Calliope Hummingbird

All About the Calliope Hummingbird

The Calliope Hummingbird is the smallest bird north of Mexico in North America.  You typically find it in mountain areas, especially in the northwestern United States.  The Calliope Hummingbird usually winters in Mexico.  

You can recognize a Calliope Hummingbird by its coloring and size.  It’s a very tiny hummingbird that’s green on top.  A male Calliope Hummingbird has red and white streaks on its throat, while a female has a whitish throat and a cinnamon chest and belly.  The sound made by this kind of hummingbird is very similar to the buzzing of a bee, even more so than other kinds of hummingbirds.

The Calliope Hummingbird drinks nectar and may also consume birds they catch during flight.  They typically hover over flowers while they’re drinking the nectar from them.  This type of hummingbird also drinks sap from trees if they can find a well made in a tree by a sapsucker.  You won’t see this type of hummingbird traveling in large numbers.  The Calliope Hummingbird usually migrates by itself, traveling over 4,000 kilometers each way alone.  The bird typically spends wintertime in lowland areas and deserts, although breeding is usually reserved for more mountainous terrains.

This type of hummingbird is the smallest long-distance migratory bird in the world.  Flight speed, endurance, and size of the brain all influence how far a bird can migrate, so researchers find it interesting that this tiny hummingbird can travel so far during migration.  It’s also an unusual bird because it prefers colder climates despite its tiny size. 

The males typically arrive back at the breeding grounds before females in the spring.  This type of hummingbird usually breeds in parts of western Canada, including British Columbia and Alberta.  You also may find Calliope Hummingbird breeding grounds in Washington state, Oregon, Nevada, Wyoming, and California.  A few males usually set up a territory, and several females will build nests within that territory and raise the young. 

The Calliope Hummingbird usually builds its next in trees.  Females usually build the nests in the base of an old pine cone on a branch in a tree.  Usually the branch is shaded by other branches to protect the eggs.  Females usually lay two eggs, which are incubated for a little over two weeks.  They may even use the same nest more than once. 

Researchers have not spent a lot of time studying the Calliope Hummingbird.  They say more research is needed before they can determine the best way to conserve the bird’s population.  However, they do know that many species of hummingbirds and insects that pollinate flowers are decreasing.  They believe these decreases in population numbers may include loss of habitat, more pesticides, and non-native plants being introduced to the environment.  The Calliope Hummingbird is even more susceptible to natural disasters, diseases, and changes in landscape because of its restricted habits for wintering. 

The Calliope Hummingbird is a unique species that deserves much more study to understand exactly how it’s able to do the things it does each year.




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