Black Chinned Hummingbird

Some Interesting Facts about the Western Black Chinned Hummingbird

Did you know that the Black Chinned Hummingbird is the most common hummingbird in the American West?  Well it is. 

Here are some other fascinating this about this curious little bird:

The Black Chinned Hummingbird, like most hummingbirds, has a surprisingly long life span.

These little birds live over ten years.  This is surprising because they have very high metabolisms.  You know how you measure your pulse at the doctor’s office to see how healthy you are?  Well, if you took a hummingbird into a doctor’s office you would find that, on average, his heart beats more than a thousand times per minute.

He needs this high metabolism to support his life style.  The distinctive hum that comes from the frenetic pace of the hummingbird’s beating wings can only be sustained by an equally frenetic metabolism. 

The Black Chinned Hummingbird’s Sweet Tooth

Like most hummingbirds, the Black Chinned Hummingbird survives on a diet of flower nectar, which he supplements with yummy insects and spiders!  Despite its high metabolism and need to get a great deal of energy from its diet, the Black Chinned Hummingbird is picky about which nectar it chooses, showing a distinct preference for sweeter, more sugary nectars.  So you might say the Black Chinned Hummingbird has a real sweet tooth—or, in this case, sweet beak.

So if you want to have some little Black Chinned Hummingbird visitors to your porch this summer, you should be sure to get one of the sweeter nectars for you hummingbird feeder.  Here are some other tips for setting up your hummingbird feeder:

  1. Remember that the Black Chinned Hummingbird migrates south to Mexico for the winter, so January may not be the best time to set up your hummingbird feeder.
  2. Hummingbirds are attracted to red which is the color of most hummingbird feeders, but if you are having trouble attracting hummingbirds to your feeder try attaching a red ribbon, putting up more feeders at different locations or surrounding your feeder with the sorts of nectar producing flowers that hummingbirds are attracted to.
  3. Avoid putting honey or artificial red dye in your hummingbird feeder mix as it may harm the hummingbird’s health.
  4. To keep bees away from your hummingbird feeder, be sure to wipe it off and change its contents every three to four days.  Hummingbirds will tend to drip the contents on the side of the feeder while licking it up.  If you observe bees around the feeder, then clean more often.

The Black Chinned Hummingbird and the Origin of Fire: A Native American Mystery

The Ohlones, sometimes called the Costonians, tell a tale about how the hummingbird stole fire from the beavers and brought it back to the world.  But what kind of hummingbird was this?  In most retellings of the story, Hummingbird’s mouth is turned red by the fire he steals.  Many have thought this to be evidence for another kind of hummingbird, like the Ruby Throated Hummingbird.

The Ohlone, however, lived in the San Francisco Bay Area before the coming of the Spanish in 1776.  The Bay Area is well outside of the Ruby’s stomping grounds on the East Coast and well within the Black Chin’s territory.  One possibility is that perhaps when the burns cooled they created the black chins distinctive charred facial pigmentation.

Whatever the case may be, there is no doubt these are one of the most fascinating and beautiful little fluttering creatures on the West Coast.  So next time you are out in your garden doing some summer gardening and hear the unique hum of fluttering hummingbird wings, look up.  It might just be the Black Chinned Hummingbird paying your flowers or feeder a visit.




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