Allen’s Hummingbird


The Allen’s Hummingbird, Selasphorus sasin, is a species of hummingbird, a family of small passerine birds.

The Allen’s Hummingbird is a small bird, with mature adults reaching only 3 to 3½ inches in length. The male Allen’s has a green back and forehead, with rust-colored rufous flanks, rump, and tail.

The male’s throat is also an iridescent orange-red. The female and immature Allen’s Hummingbirds are similarly colored, but lack the iridescent throat patch, instead having a series of speckles on their throat.

Females are mostly green, featuring rufous colors only on the tail, which also has white tips. The female and immature Allen’s Hummingbirds are so similar to the female Rufous Hummingbird that the two are almost indistinguishable in the field. Both species’ breeding seasons and ranges are common factors used to differentiate between the two species in a particular geographical area. / CC BY-NC 2.0

Hummingbird video: The first bird shown is a female Allen’s Hummingbird, and has a faster wing beat than the Anna’s hummingbird (2nd bird show). At times the wing beats were a perfect multiple of 30, so the camera’s shutter froze the wings in the same position in the wing stroke cycle for several frames in a row – giving the illusion that the wings had actually stopped moving for short periods of time. Notice the bird is swallowing and looking around while she seems to hang there otherwise motionless.

The courtship flight of the male Hummingbird is a frantic back and forth flight arc of about 25 feet similar to the motion of a swinging pendulum, followed by a high-speed dive from about 100 feet. The male is also highly aggressive and territorial. Hot-tempered despite its diminutive stature, a male Allen’s Hummingbird will chase any other males from its territory, as well as any other hummingbird species, and they have even been known to attack and rout predatory birds several times larger than themselves such as kestrels and hawks.

The Allen’s Hummingbird constructs its nest out of plant fibers, down, and weed stems, coating the nest with lichens to give it structure. The nest is placed above ground on a tree branch or the stalk or stem of a plant. The female lays two white eggs, which she will incubate for 15 to 17 days. The young will leave the nest about three weeks after hatching. The mother will continue to feed the fledglings for several more weeks, then the young are left to fend for themselves.

Like all hummingbirds, the Allen’s Hummingbird’s high rate of metabolism requires it to feed frequently, about every 10 to 15 minutes. The Allen’s Hummingbird drinks nectar from flowers, as well as eating any small insects it finds crawling around the flower blossom, which provide it with needed protein.

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