Hummingbird Species: Black-chinned Hummingbird

This small hummingbird species can be found wagging their tails as they feed throughout the western United States.

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Black-chinned hummingbird perched among a container filled with succulents including orange-flowering ‘Blue Elf’ aloe.

Do you enjoy visits from hummingbirds?  As a resident of Arizona, which is home to 18 hummingbird species, I see hummingbirds almost everyday.  Every once in a while, I have the opportunity to view a hummingbird up close.

On a recent visit to a Tucson nursery, I had an up close encounter with a black-chinned hummingbird (Archilochus alexandri).  He was perched on a pot filled with a variety of succulent plants

black-chinned hummingbird Arizona

This little bird was sitting just 5 feet from where I was standing and didn’t seem bothered by my presence.  In fact, I didn’t see him at first and almost bumped into him as I went to take a close look at the plants in the container.

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The narrow strip of purple on the black-chinned hummingbird can be seen in this photo.

The most prevalent hummingbird species in Arizona are Anna’s hummingbirds, but right away, I knew that this was not an Anna’s, which tend to be larger.  Black-chinned hummingbirds are rather skinny and aren’t particularly colorful.  Males have a black-chin with a small strip of purple on their throats.

It was a hot day and his beak was open as he was panting – I could see his little tongue.  Hummingbirds do not sweat, so they rely on panting (like dogs do) to dissipate excess heat.

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Black-chinned hummingbird species perched on Lady’s Slipper (Pedilanthus macrocarpus).

I believe that this small hummingbird was a juvenile male because of his black throat had not completely filled in.  Female black-chinned hummingbirds have a white throat.

Black-chinned hummingbirds migrate up into the western United States in the summer from western Mexico where they spend their winters.

hummingbird cleaning itself

When feeding, black-chinned hummingbirds are known to wag their tails.  This little one spent a lot of time grooming himself while I stood a few feet away taking pictures.  I enjoyed this unexpected opportunity to view this particular hummingbird species up close.  He appeared quite tame and didn’t mind my presence.  I was so glad that I had my camera with me!

Black-chinned hummingbirds prefer dry climates and are equally at home in the deserts and woodlands of the western United States.  For more information on hummingbird species found throughout the west, check out this great article –  Attracting Western Hummingbird Species.

Noelle Johnson
Noelle Johnson is a horticulturist and certified arborist who lives and gardens in the desert Southwest. When she is not writing or helping other people with their gardens, you can find her growing fruits and vegetables, and planting flowering shrubs and maybe a cactus or two.