Southern California boasts a wide array of Hummingbirds. Each adds color and vibrancy to the beautiful landscape of the American West.
This article will explore the similarities and peculiarities between some of these species and then will rank them in the one way a bird of this level of vitality can be: the likelihood that they would be fun at a party.
Bring out your top of the line backyard bird feeders because you read that right, the article we have all been waiting for: this is the conclusive ranking of Southern California Hummingbirds based on the likelihood they would be fun at parties.
6. Rufous Hummingbird (Selasphorus Rufus)
In last place we have the Rufous Hummingbird. The Rufous Hummingbird is a fascinating bird if a bit of a loner.
The iridescent red/orange color of the males and the more muted but beautiful deep green of the females will catch the eye of any who sees them darting through the air.
Relative to its size, the Rufous Hummingbird has one of the longest migrations of any bird. Spanning from the mountainsides of southern Alaska to the forests of Guerrero, Mexico, Rufous Hummingbirds’ migration pattern spans nearly 4,000 miles round trip.
Individuals in Southern California can expect to see Rufous Hummingbirds on their migration journeys between February and May, and then again between June and October.
Though there are nearly 22 million mature Rufous Hummingbirds, according to recent studies, the population is experiencing an annual decline of over two percent. As a result, Rufous Hummingbirds are now considered a “near-threatened” species.
But, their declining population is not why they have ranked the least likely to be fun at parties, that is due to their temperament; Rufous Hummingbirds are aggressive and fiercely territorial.
They tend to chase away all other hummingbirds, and even some larger species of birds, from their feeding ground, which is not the kind of energy one would want at a dinner party.
5. Anna’s Hummingbird (Calypte Anna)
Up next is Anna’s Hummingbird, named after a French Duchess named Anna Massena. This lively bird has several distinct characteristics.
The males have a stunning magenta crown that catches the light beautifuly and can surprise the observer into wondering how a color that bright can occur naturally. The females’ color is much more muted and carries a similar deep green tone to the female Rufous Hummingbird.
But their muted tones do nothing to stop the male Anna’s Hummingbirds from doing daring feats of agility to catch the females’ attention. Their courtship ritual includes the male performing a death-defying dive from staggering heights of up to 130 feet.
Anna’s Hummingbirds also hold the distinction of being the one non-migratory bird on this list. They tend to stay in one habitat year-round.
Their non-migratory nature enables them to have the northernmost year-round habitat range of any Hummingbird species. Instead of migrating south to warmer temperatures for the winter, Anna’s Hummingbirds have adopted the same strategy as bears: when it gets cold, they get fat.
It seems to be working well for them as the mature population of Anna’s Hummingbirds is increasing. In the last 10 years alone, the population of Allan’s Hummingbirds has risen an astonishing 35%.
They find themselves this low on the list for these two reasons: their non-migratory nature puts off guy-from-high-school-who-never-left-their-hometown vibes, and if they’re willing to dive from over 100 feet in the air just to impress a lady, who knows what kind of crazy and dangerous stunts they would try to impress the guests at your birthday party.
4. Allen’s Hummingbird (Selasphorus Sasin)
Next on the list is the Allen’s Hummingbird. This small, coastal bird would liven any work party.
The males sport a rust-red color, with tasteful green accents, which mirrors the fiery ocean sunsets and the deeply wooded forests that they inhabit along California’s coast. Their breeding ground stretches from the coast of Oregon all the way down to the coast of Baja, California.
As the male Allen’s Hummingbird courts the female, he vibrates his tail feathers to produce a buzzing sound as he bobs back and forth like a pendulum in order to catch her eye.
Not altogether unlike a single guy in a nightclub trying to catch a girl’s attention on the dancefloor.
If the female likes the male’s display, this process leads to the females laying one or two eggs in nests that they have built using materials such as moss or spider webs. The mother will stay with those eggs, which eventually hatch as all eggs do, until the hatchlings are several weeks old when the mother leaves and the hatchlings must fend for themselves.
Like the Rufous Hummingbird, Allen’s Hummingbirds’ are territorial over their feeding grounds and have been known to even drive large birds away to maintain their hold on their feeding ground.
This species’ population is on the rise, as significant portions of its breeding grounds are protected and conserved.
The Allen’s Hummingbird would bring surfer-bro energy to any bonfire night with friends, and who knows, maybe they’ll bust out their tail feathers and start playing a song. Who doesn’t love live music?
3. Costa’s Hummingbird (Calypte Costae)
The Costa’s Hummingbird adds a special flair to its dating routine.
Though the females have a muted green color with a white belly, the male’s color is a deep green with vibrant purple under its beak. This purple plays a crucial role in the Costa’s Hummingbird’s courtship.
The Costa’s Hummingbird’s courtship consists are flying back and forth while carefully utilizing the sun’s rays to reflect off their neck’s purple patch. In other words, Costa’s Hummingbird use the sun as their wing man… The sun!
There is plenty of sun to go around because the Costa’s Hummingbird dwells in arid desert regions in Baja, California, and down into Mexico.
Like other Hummingbirds, the Costa’s Hummingbird dines on long-tubed flowers’ nectar, as well as small insects they find among the flowers.
The Costa’s Hummingbird’s flair alone would make a great addition to one’s party. The ability to use the environment to their advantage, adds to the charm of the Costa’s Hummingbird, and would greatly entertain your guests.
2. Calliope Hummingbird (Selasphorus Calliope)
This mountainous Hummingbird is the smallest breeding bird in both the United States and Canada.
Even more impressive, the Calliope Hummingbird is believed to be the smallest long-distant migrant in the world. With the average size of the males being around three inches, and a migration pattern stretching from Canada all the way to Mexico.
Both the males and the females have a deep green color but are differentiated by their accents.
The males have streaks of iridescent red wine color under their beaks that at times can look like Chester A. Arthur’s non-goatee (seriously, check it out). The females have a streak of muted pink on both sides of their torso.
Belonging to the same Genus, the Calliope Hummingbird’s courtship ritual is like that of the Allen’s Hummingbird. The male creates a high-pitched buzzing sound by beating its wings at faster than the normal rate and then dives from heights of up to 20 meters.
Like most Hummingbirds, the Calliope Hummingbirds diet consists of nectar from flowers, or small winged insects which are caught through a process called “hawking.”
When a Calliope Hummingbird is hawking, they perch on a branch and wait for a winged insect to pass by. As the unlucky insect flies across the Calliope Hummingbirds’ vision, the Calliope Hummingbird takes flight and snatches the insect out of mid-air, like a hawk.
Though small, the Calliope Hummingbird is going to bring energy to any party, with its stories of long treks and hunting tales despite its small stature.
1. Black-Chinned Hummingbird (Archilochus Alexandri)
The final hummingbird on the list, the undisputed holder of the top spot on our list of Southern California Hummingbirds most likely to be great fun at parties, is the unimaginatively named Black-Chinned Hummingbird.
Male and female Black-Chinned Hummingbirds look remarkably similar apart from one distinct characteristic: from the neck upward, the male Black-Chinned Hummingbird is entirely black. Hence the name: Black-Chinned Hummingbird (though I can’t help but think that “Black-Headed Hummingbird would have been more fitting).
Black-Chinned Hummingbirds are adaptable to a variety of different environments. Their breeding habitats span as far north as Canada, as far south as Mexico, as far west as the coast of California, and as far east as Oklahoma.
They live in mountains, forests, meadows, and even the shrubs of Southern California. They work in all of these environments, finding nectar and pollinating flowers as they are doing it.
They intentionally build their nest shrubs close to larger predatory birds as a way to protect their young. The Black-Chinned Hummingbirds are too small to interest the larger predators, but the presence of the larger predators keeps the Black-Chinned Hummingbirds’ direct rivals far away. Brilliant.
The Black-Chinned Hummingbirds naturally adaptive characteristics, alongside its inclination to build strategic relationships to protect their young, make Black-Chinned Hummingbirds the perfect guest at any kind of party. 10 out of 10, would invite to a party again.