When we think of hummingbirds, the first thing that comes to mind is their vibrant plumages and amazing flying skills.
Female hummingbirds, although more subtle in appearance, possess a remarkable allure and hold many intriguing secrets of their own.
Let’s look closer at the unique qualities of male and female hummingbirds so you can tell them apart quickly and easily!
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Female vs. Male Hummingbirds
Female hummingbirds vary from male hummingbirds in quite a few ways. They have duller plumage, have different nesting behaviors, and female hummingbirds are larger in size.
When trying to identify if a hummingbird is male or female, it’s highly recommended that you look at the plumage, specifically the neck and head feathers.
Female hummingbirds are duller than male hummingbirds. Male hummingbirds have colors that include pink, green, bright red, purple, and more. Female hummingbirds are dull in color compared to males, with brown, white, and dark green in their feathers. Additionally, male hummingbirds have brightly colored throat feathers called gorgets.
Gorgets are the most distinct feature that male hummingbirds have besides color. They’re the best way to tell males and females apart. A gorget is an area of brightly colored feathers on a hummingbird’s throat. Males use their gorgets to attract female hummingbirds for the mating season.
Gorgets can vary in terms of brightness and color; birds with the brightest gorgets are the ones that are chosen for mating. Some of the most beautiful and common examples include Broad-billed Hummingbirds, Costa’s Hummingbirds, Ruby-throated Hummingbirds, and Anna’s Hummingbirds.
These throat feathers stand out more than the rest of the birds’ plumage because they have an iridescent sheen to them. If you see a hummingbird with brightly colored throat feathers, it’s most likely a male.
It’s important to note that depending on the hummingbird species, the gorget can extend beyond the throat. Some gorgets extend to the bird’s head and wrap almost entirely around the eyes.
Female hummingbirds are not as aggressive as male hummingbirds regarding food. However, female hummingbirds are more aggressive than males regarding their nesting areas and babies.
Additionally, male hummingbirds use courtship displays that involve complex flying techniques and vocalizations while showing off their colors to attract females.
Females do not participate in the courtship displays and complete the nesting process alone. They’re not afraid to fiercely defend their nest against any predators, including ones much larger than them.
Hummingbirds have even been known to become aggressive towards humans that get too close to their nest. However, they’re not out to hurt you; they’re just trying to get you to leave. So if you see a hummingbird defending a nest, it’s most likely a female.
Female Hummingbird Size
Neither male nor female hummingbirds are very large, but female hummingbirds are larger than males. They can be anywhere from 2 to 8 inches tall.
Female hummingbirds are commonly a bit bigger than males because they have to carry and lay eggs. However, it’s not recommended that you rely on size to differentiate a male from a female.
Hummingbirds are such small birds that you most likely won’t be able to tell.
How to Tell a Younger Hummingbird’s Gender
To identify the gender of a young hummingbird, you have to look for the details on the throat. Unfortunately, in some species, you really can’t tell. This is because young male hummingbirds don’t hatch with the bright gorget.
Male hummingbirds start to get hints of their gorgets about a month after they leave the nest, but they can appear earlier in some hummingbird species.
In the summer months, you can rely on identification with throat feathers because young male hummingbirds will have spotty iridescent feathers on their throats.
Young female hummingbirds are far less confusing to identify because they look almost identical to adult female hummingbirds when they leave the nest.
Female Hummingbird Lifecycle
Hummingbirds have an average lifespan of 3 to 5 years. They are not a species of bird that mates for life. A male will leave once the mating process is over. It takes around 12 to 14 days for hummingbirds to hatch.
The clutch size is 1 to 3 eggs. Hatchlings will fledge the nest when they’re about a month old and become independent birds.
The Female Hummingbird: Frequently Asked Questions
How can you tell a female hummingbird?
Female hummingbirds are larger than males, behave differently, and are not as bright as male birds. Females have to be larger because they carry eggs. Female hummingbirds behave differently because they don’t do a courtship display to attract a mate and are not as aggressive when it comes to food.
However, females are more aggressive than males when it comes to their nesting areas and babies. If you see a hummingbird defending a nest, it’s most likely a female. Lastly, female hummingbirds are not as bright as males. They lack the gorget and bright colors throughout the rest of their bodies.
Is there a size difference between male and female hummingbirds?
Yes, there is a size difference between male and female hummingbirds. Neither male nor female hummingbirds are very large, but female hummingbirds are usually a little bit bigger than males because they have to carry and lay eggs.
Do female hummingbirds have red throats?
No, female hummingbirds do not have red throats. Gorgets are a distinct feature that only male hummingbirds have. The gorget is a brightly colored area of feathers on a hummingbird’s throat. It’s used to attract female hummingbirds.
Do hummingbirds mate for life?
No, hummingbirds do not mate for life. Male hummingbirds leave the female once mating is finished.
Even though male and female hummingbirds can be tough to tell apart at a quick glance, they have many differences in appearance and behavior.
Males are smaller, brighter in color, and more aggressive, while females are larger, duller, and aren’t as aggressive toward other birds.
However, it is tough to determine the gender of juvenile hummingbirds, and in the case of wild hummingbirds, the only ethical way to find it out is to observe their plumage and behavior.