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Allen's Hummingbird
Selasphorus sasin
Anatomy of a Bird

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.

Range Map My Photos Of This Bird
2003 Cornell Lab of Ornithology
Cool Facts Taxonomic Hierarchy Illustration
  • 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.
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
     Subphylum: Vertebrata
Class: Aves
Order: Apodiformes
Family: Trochilidae
     Subfamily: Trochilinae
Genus: Selasphorus
Species: Selasphorus sasin
  • Selasphorus sasin sasin
  • Selasphorus sasin sedentarius
Photo taken from:
The Sibley Field Guide to Birds of Western North America by David Allen Sibley




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

  • Breeding Location: Bushes, shrubs, and thickets, Scrub vegetation areas
  • Breeding Type: Solitary nester, Semicolonial, Promiscuous
  • Breeding Population: Common to fairly common
  • Egg Color: White
  • Number of Eggs: 2
  • Incubation Days: 15 - 22
  • Egg Incubator: Female
  • Nest Material: Moss, stems, weeds, and plant down.
  • Migration: Neotropical Migrant
  • Condition at Hatching: Helpless, with black skin and some down on back.
Body Head Flight
  • Length Range: 10 cm (3.75 in)
  • Weight: 3 g (0.1 oz)
  • Size: 1. Very Small (3 - 5 in)
  • Color Primary: Green, Rufous or Rust, Sheen or Iridescence
  • Underparts: White with red-brown on sides and flanks.
  • Upperparts: Green
  • Back Pattern: Solid
  • Belly Pattern: Solid
  • Breast Pattern: Solid
  • Bill Shape: Needle
  • Eye Color: Dark brown.
  • Head Pattern: Eyeline, Plain, Unique pattern
  • Crown Color: Green
  • Forehead Color: Green
  • Nape Color: Green
  • Throat Color: Copper-red
  • Cere color: No Data
  • Flight Pattern: Hovers when feeding., Swift darting direct flight.
  • Wingspan Range: 12 cm (4.75 in)
  • Wing Shape: Pointed-Wings
  • Tail Shape: Fan-shaped Tail
  • Tail Pattern: Solid
  • Upper Tail: Red-brown
  • Under Tail: Red-brown
  • Leg Color: Black


Food Habitat
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. Breeds in moist coastal areas, scrub, chaparral, and forests. Winters in forest edge and scrub clearings with flowers.
Other Names Similar Species Conservation Status
  • Colibri d'Allen (French)
  • Chuparmirto petirrojo, Zumbador de Allen (Spanish)
  • 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.
Populations may be declining.
Video Sources Used To Construct This Page:


  • Mitchell, D. E. 2000. Allen?s Hummingbird (Selasphorus sasin). In The Birds of North America, No. 501 (A. Poole and F. Gill, eds.). The Birds of North America, Inc., Philadelphia, PA.

All photos 2008 Rick Swartzentrover - Free for non-profit use.
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