How to Identify Black-Chinned Hummingbirds

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Black-chinned hummingbirds wag their tails as they feed across the western United States. Learn what the males and females look like and where to spot them.

black-chinned hummingbirdCourtesy Sherman Barr
Male black-chinned hummingbird

Arizona is home to many types of hummingbirds, including black-chinned hummingbirds. Let’s learn more about this species, including how to identify the males and females and details about their call, range and migration habits.

female black chinned hummingbirdCourtesy Tammy Windsor Brown
Female black-chinned hummingbird

Male and Female Black-Chinned Hummingbirds

The Anna’s hummingbird is the most prevalent hummingbird species in Arizona. But Anna’s tend to be larger. Black-chinned hummingbirds measure about 3.25 inches. Both sexes have a long, very slightly decurved bill. At rest, their wingtips extend past their tail. The male has a metallic-green back, black chin and throat with a blue-violet band at the lower edge (the band is not always visible). They also have dull white underparts, darker flanks brushed with metallic green, and dark tail feathers.

Females and juveniles are subdued with a metallic-green upper body and drab gray underparts with light metallic-green flanks. Their outer tail feathers are tipped with white; the central pair of tail feathers is metallic green. Learn more about the life of a female hummingbird.

Species Behavior

When feeding, black-chinned hummingbirds wag and fan their tails. Black-chinned hummers often find a favorite perch from which they can oversee their territory and will return to that perch repeatedly.

Check out jaw-dropping facts about hummingbirds.

Black-Chinned Hummingbird Call

Their high-pitched warbling song is seldom heard. You may hear chipping calls when they’re chasing intruders. The male’s aerial courtship display produces a trill at the bottom of the dive. Learn about the many sounds of hummingbirds.

black chinned hummingbirdCourtesy Gregory Plank

Black-Chinned Hummingbird Habitat

Black-chinned hummingbirds are equally at home in the deserts and woodlands of the western United States, as long as there are food sources. Prior to southward migration, black-chinned hummingbirds often appear at high elevations, seeking nectar flowers that bloom late in summer.

Check out frequently asked questions about attracting hummingbirds.

Black-Chinned Hummingbird Range and Migration

Black-chinned hummingbirds undergo twice yearly journeys to and from their breeding grounds. They migrate up into the western United States in the summer from western Mexico, where they spend their winters. They are a common breeding-season resident from northern Mexico and much of Texas northward through Arizona, most of New Mexico and Nevada, throughout Utah, western and southern Colorado, most of Idaho, eastern Oregon and eastern Washington, and into south-central British Columbia. Their migration range overlaps their breeding range and includes virtually the entire West from the Rockies to the Cascades and Sierra Nevada. Some birds winter along the Gulf Coast of Texas.

To learn more, check out The Hummingbird Handbook: Everything You Need to Know About These Fascinating Birds, published by Timber Press.

John Shewey
Lifelong birding enthusiast John Shewey is a veteran writer, editor, and professional outdoor photographer, with credits in Birdwatching, Portland Monthly, Northwest Travel & Life, and dozens of other magazines, and co-author of Birds of the Pacific Northwest, a Timber Press Field Guide, and The Hummingbird Handbook. John has photographed birds from the mountains of Alaska to the jungles of Central America to the islands of the Caribbean, and his website chronicles many of these travels in rich photographic detail.