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Description of the Calliope Hummingbird


The Calliope Hummingbird is a very small hummingbird with a short, thin bill, greenish upperparts, and a short, square tail.

Males have a streaked red gorget and greenish flanks.  Length: 3 in.  Wingspan: 4 in.

calliope hummingbird


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Photograph © Alan Wilson.


Females have a spotted throat, a white line above the gape, and buffy flanks.

calliope hummingbird


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Photograph © Alan Wilson.

Seasonal change in appearance



Juveniles resemble adult females.


Broad-tailed Hummingbirds have thicker bills and longer tails.


Calliope Hummingbirds eat nectar.


Calliope Hummingbirds forage by hovering to take nectar from flowers.


Calliope Hummingbirds breed across much of the western U.S., and winter primarily in Mexico. The population is not well measured, but may be stable.

More information:

Bent Life History

Visit the Bent Life History for extensive additional information on the Calliope Hummingbird.

Wing Shape

The shape of a bird's wing is often an indication of its habits and behavior. Fast flying birds have long, pointed wings. Soaring birds have long, broad wings. Different songbirds will have a slightly different wing shape. Some species look so much alike (Empidonax flycatchers) that scientists sometimes use the length of specific feathers to confirm a species' identification.

Wing images from the University of Puget Sound, Slater Museum of Natural History

Fun Facts

The Calliope Hummingbird is the smallest breeding bird in North America, and the smallest long-distance migrant bird in the world.

During migration and winter, other larger hummingbirds are dominant over Calliope Hummingbirds when it comes to defending feeding sites.


The commonly heard call consists of a soft, high chip, while the song is a whistle. A buzzy rattle is given when one bird is chasing another.


Attracted by flowering plants and sugar water in feeders.


The Calliope Hummingbird’s nest consists of a cup of plant down and fibers, the outside covered with lichens, and is placed in a tree, usually a conifer.

Number: Usually lay 2 eggs.
Color: White.

Incubation and fledging:
The young hatch at about 15-16 days, and begin to fly in about another 3 weeks, though continuing to associate with the adults for some time.