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From Charms To Shimmers: Collective Names of Hummingbirds

What is a group of hummingbirds called

Hummingbirds are surreal little creatures! Like feathered fairies, these tiny birds entertain with metallic, shining colors and fearless attitudes.

Hummingbirds forage on their own, but several can gather at feeders and flowering bushes. They don’t exactly flock together but lucky birders can see several at the same time.

What do we call a group of hummingbirds? Why do groups of hummingbirds have those names?

 

What Is A Group Of Hummingbirds Called?

When birders see hummingbirds, they usually refer to them by the names we give to each species. A lot of people also call them by shortened names or nicknames. For example, if you live in the eastern USA and Canada, you might hear people referring to Ruby-throated Hummingbirds as “Ruby-throats” or even “Rubies.”

Out west, there will be “Anna’s,” “Black-chinneds,” and other species. Many folks also name the hummingbirds that come to their yards! Like pets, they might call them names like “Zippy,” “Ruby,” or even “Jimmy.”

It's rare to see hummingbirds together in groups

Although we can see several hummingbirds together, since they don’t exactly interact with each other like other birds do, we don’t refer to them as “a flock”.

However, there is an official term for a group of hummingbirds. A group of these small birds is known as “a charm.”

This is a fitting term for lovely little birds that are fun to watch and have jewel-like plumage.

 

Why Is It Called A Charm?

Names for groups of birds can date back hundreds of years. Some of these terms for birds can even be seen in printed books that date back to the 15th century.

In general, the most frequently used collective nouns for birds are for common flocking species like crows and geese. Those terms are usually associated with the bird’s appearance and/or behavior.

For example, the term for a flock of crows is known as “a murder” because crows in Europe often feed on carrion. As for hummingbirds, it’s hard to say when “a charm” was first used. It doesn’t appear in many books and may have been invented and locally used before becoming accepted as the main term for a group of hummingbirds.

However, it’s no surprise that “a charm” has become the most accepted name for a group of these beautiful little birds.

The term basically comes from attributes related to their colors and how we feel about them.

Given their beauty and adorable nature, it’s hard not to like hummingbirds! Or, we could also say that it’s hard not to feel charmed by these lovely birds. Since a charm also refers to a small piece of jewelry, this is a perfect term for a group of shining, beautiful hummingbirds.

 

Other Names For A Group Of Hummingbirds

There have been several terms used for a group of hummingbirds. Three of the most common are “a bouquet,” “a chattering,” and “a glittering.”

A bouquet of hummingbirds came about because the bright pinks, reds, and other colors on hummingbirds can remind us of flowers. Since hummingbirds also feed on flowers, “a bouquet” is a nice term for these lovely birds.

Looking at their plumage, it is easy to see why a group of hummingbirds is called a shimmer or a charm

A chattering of hummingbirds refers to the sputtering sounds that hummingbirds make. Although hummingbirds don’t usually sing like other birds, they do make lots of chattering sounds.

They are also especially vocal around other hummingbirds, even if most of the sounds seem to be related to bickering with each other!

Glittering is one of the better terms for a group of hummingbirds. Most hummingbird species do have glittering plumage, even the duller females. Although they might seem dull in the shade, just wait until that hummingbird flies into sunlight!

When the sun hits the gorget of a male Ruby-throated Hummingbird at the right angle, it really does look like it has a glowing ruby on its throat! The same goes for Anna’s Hummingbirds and so many other species.

A few other terms for a group of hummingbirds include “a hover”, “a trouble”, and “a shimmering”.

 

How Often Do Hummingbirds Gather In Groups?

Hummingbirds can be seen together but these birds are actually loners. All hummingbird species forage on their own and none form long-term pair bonds. This solitary nature has everything to do with their constant feeding needs.

While other birds might flock together to feed on seeds and for protection, hummingbirds have to eat so often, they can’t afford to share their food. When a hummingbird finds a bunch of flowers to feed from, it has to feed ASAP and as much as possible.

Hummingbirds do not gather in groups often

If not, since the hummingbird has to eat every 15 minutes or so, if it doesn’t get enough food, the small bird can become weak and quickly die!

Even so, hummingbirds can occur in groups. Although they don’t flock together, they will gather at a good food source. It’s why we see so many at feeders and at spots with lots of flowering bushes.

If few other flowers are available and those food sources are the only ones around, lots of hummingbirds can appear. The same thing can happen during migration. While hummingbirds are moving through an area, lots can gather at a feeder. If you have that happen, be happy that you are helping those little birds with vital food!

 

Frequently Asked Questions

Are hummingbirds social creatures?

No, hummingbirds are not social creatures. However, hummingbirds can gather at the same food source.

When do hummingbirds form groups?

Hummingbirds form groups when they gather at a feeder or other food source.

Do hummingbirds migrate in groups?

No, hummingbirds do not migrate in groups. They migrate on their own but can occur in the same general area.

 

Conclusion

A group of hummingbirds is known as “A Charm”. They can also be known as “A Glittering”, “A Chattering”, “A Shimmering”, and other terms. However, although we can see a bunch of hummingbirds at feeders and other food sources, they don’t flock together on purpose.

If you see A Charm of hummingbirds at your feeders, consider yourself lucky and know that you are helping those beautiful little birds!

About the Author

Patrick O'Donnell

Patrick O'Donnell has been focused on all things avian since the age of 7. Since then, he has helped with ornithological field work in the USA and Peru, and has guided many birding tours, especially in Costa Rica. He develops birding apps for BirdingFieldGuides and loves to write about birds, especially in his adopted country of Costa Rica.

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