Allen's Hummingbird

Selasphorus sasin

Extremely similar in appearance to the widespread Rufous Hummingbird, the Allen's Hummingbird breeds only along a narrow strip of coastal California and southern Oregon.

Interesting Information

  • Breeding male and female Allen's Hummingbirds have different habitat preferences. The male sets up a territory overseeing open areas of coastal scrub vegetation or riparian shrubs, where he often perches conspicuously on exposed leafless branches. The female selects nest sites in more densely vegetated areas and forests.

  • Two subspecies of Allen's Hummingbirds are recognized. They differ only slightly in appearance, but sedentarius of very southern California is nonmigratory, and the more northerly breeding, slightly smaller sasin spends the winter in Mexico.

  • The Allen's Hummingbird is remarkably early migrant compared with most North American birds. Northbound birds may depart on spring migration as early as December and arrive on the summer breeding grounds as early as January. Adult males may begin their southward fall migration in mid-May and arrive on winter grounds as early as August.


Adult Description

  • Size: 9 cm (4 in)

  • Wingspan: 11 cm (4 in)

  • Weight: 2-4 g (0.07-0.14 ounces)

  • Tiny bird, small and compact hummingbird.v

  • Extensive rusty in most plumages.

  • Male with iridescent red throat and shiny green back.

  • Tail projects slightly beyond wingtips when perched.

  • Extensive rufous in tail.

  • Bill black, straight, and moderately long.

  • Outer tail feather extremely narrow.

Sex Differences

Male with red throat; female throat white with a few red feathers. Male extensively orange on body and head, female with green back and head. Male's tail orange with pointed black tips, female's tail orange, green, and black with rounded white tips.


Gorget (throat) iridescent scarlet. Gorget with elongated feathers projecting slightly to the sides. Top of head and back dull metallic bronze or bronze-green. Sides of face, sides of chest, and flanks plain cinnamon-rufous. Tail feathers pointed, and colored orange with dark tips. Outermost tail feather very narrow. Wings dusky. Chest white. Belly and undertail coverts buffy. White spot behind black eye. Legs and feet dusky. Occasional individuals have orange in rump.


Chin, throat, and chest dull white. Center of throat with variably sized patch of red feathers. Sides and flanks cinnamon-rufous. Back metallic bronze-green, head slightly duller. Wings dusky. Outermost three pairs of tail feathers orange at bases, black in the middle, and white on the tips. Middle pair of tail feathers bronze-green, dusky at tips, with orange edges to green base. Next pair out with rufous base, then bronze-green, and black tips. Undertail coverts pale cinnamon.


Immature similar to adult female, but has less spotting on throat and less rufous on flanks; male more rusty in the base of the tail.


Photo taken from: The Sibley Field Guide by David Allen Sibley

© 2003 Cornell Lab of Ornithology


Breeds in moist coastal areas, scrub, chaparral, and forests. Winters in forest edge and scrub clearings with flowers.



Hovers at flowers and sap wells, catches insects in flight and plucks them from leaves.


Flower nectar, small insects, and tree sap. Comes to hummingbird feeders.



Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
     Subphylum: Vertebrata
Class: Aves
Order: Apodiformes
Family: Trochilidae
    Subfamily: Trochilinae
Genus: Selasphorus
Species: Selasphorus sasin
    Subspecies: Selasphorus sasin sasin
  Selasphorus sasin sedentarius

Similar Species

  • Rufous Hummingbird is very similar; females and immature birds nearly indistinguishable in the field. Male Rufous Hummingbird has an orange back and rump. Beware the rare Rufous Hummingbird male with a green back; if it has any completely rufous feathers, not rufous-edged, on the back, it is a Rufous Hummingbird. The outermost tail feather, difficult to see in the field, is broad in all plumages of Rufous Hummingbird.

  • Female Broad-tailed Hummingbird and Calliope Hummingbird have buffy sides and rufous in the tail. Calliope is pale buffy on the sides, has little rufous in the tail, and has a very short tail, about the same length as the wings when perched. Broad-tailed has paler buffy sides, has little rufous in the tail, and lacks the central red spot on the throat.

Bird Sound

Does not sing. Calls buzzy; also sharp chips. Wings of adult male make a high, buzzy trill.

Eggs look like this

Photo taken from: ARCTOS Collaborative Collection Management Solution