California Hummingbirds–Selashorus sasin (Allen’s Hummingbird)

While 27 species of hummingbirds have been documented in the United States, only 14 of those are documented in California. 

1.  Selashorus sasin (Allen’s Hummingbird)   About 3” long with long, straight, thin black bill. 

Male Description

Adult males have an iridescent copper-red (scarlet) gorget, or throat, with elongated feathers projecting slightly to the sides.  Dull metallic bronze or bronze-green back and top of head.  Chest white, belly and undertail coverts (feathers covering the bases of the longer main feathers) buffy.  Sides of chest, sides of face, and flanks plain cinnamon- rufous (a color described as reddish-brown or rust).  Forked, pointed orange tail feathers with dark tips.  The outermost tail feather is very narrow.  Wings, legs, and feet are dusky.  White spot behind black eye.  Sometimes orange in rump.

Female Description

Adult females have a few reddish gorget feathers.  Chin, throat, and chest are a dull white.  Sides and flanks are cinnamon-rufous.  Back is metallic bronze green.  The head is slightly duller.  Wings are dusky, and the tails are rounded.  The outermost three pairs of tail feathers are orange at bases, black in the middle, and white on the tips.  The middle pair of tail feathers are bronze green, dusky at tips, and orange edges to green base.  The next pair rufous base, then bronze green, and black tips.  Undertail coverts pale cinnamon.  Immatures resemble females. 

Immature Description 

Immatures resemble females, but with less spotting on throat and less rufous on flanks,  Males are more rusty in the base of the tail.

Some Allen’s Hummingbirds are year-round residents of California.  The migratory Allen’s Hummingbirds are smaller than the residential. 

Range

Frequents moist coastal areas, and in the spring migratory birds follow the coast north.  In the fall, migratory birds follow the mountain foothills south.  

Nesting 

Males attract females by displaying an aggressive J-curved flight pattern, posing, and making whistles, booms, and rattle sounds with their feathers and voice.  Males and females do not form lasting pair bonds  Females construct the nest, incubate the eggs, and feed the nestlings on their own.  Females build the nest prior to mating. 

Birds begin nesting in February usually in Monterey pines, live oaks, redwoods, eucalyptus, and sometimes near human habitations.  Nest is made up of fine rootlets, dry leaves, willow down, and hair held together with spiderweb and lichens camouflage the outside .  Two, white, small, oval-shaped eggs are laid and incubated 15-17 days.  Chicks are fed twelve times a day for a maximum of 65 days with regurgitated food from its crop.  One or two broods are raised in a season. 

Favorite Plants

Although the Allen’s Hummingbird will feed on a wide variety of wildflowers and garden plants, its favorite plants include Agave Americana (Century plant), Aquilegia Formosa (Western columbine), Arbutus menziesii (Madrone), Castilleja coccinea (Indian paintbrush), Epilobium canum (California fuchsia), Mimulus cardinalis (Scarlet monkey flower), Nicotiana glauca (Tree tobacco), Salvia splendens (Scarlet sage), and Tecomaria capensis (Cape honeysuckle).

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