Photo: Rick & Nora Bowers/Vireo

White-eared Hummingbird

Hylocharis leucotis

Abundant at times in the high mountain forests of Mexico, this little jewel is an uncommon visitor to the southwestern United States. In southern Arizona canyons where hummingbird feeders are maintained, lone White-eareds sometimes show up and remain for weeks at a time. Although the species has been known as a summer visitor to Arizona at least since the 1890s, there have been few proven records of its actually having nested there.
Conservation status Widespread and locally very common in Mexico. Could be vulnerable to major clearing of forest in mountains.
Family Hummingbirds
Habitat Montane forest, pine-oak woods. In Mexico and Central America found mostly in clearing and edges of coniferous forest in higher mountains, as well as pine-oak woods at middle elevations. In the U.S., has been seen most often coming to feeders in mountain canyons, in areas dominated by oak, pine, or Douglas-fir.
Abundant at times in the high mountain forests of Mexico, this little jewel is an uncommon visitor to the southwestern United States. In southern Arizona canyons where hummingbird feeders are maintained, lone White-eareds sometimes show up and remain for weeks at a time. Although the species has been known as a summer visitor to Arizona at least since the 1890s, there have been few proven records of its actually having nested there.
Photo Gallery
  • adult male
  • adult female
  • juvenile male
  • adult male
Feeding Behavior

At flowers, usually feeds while hovering, extending its bill and long tongue deep into the center of the flower. At feeders, may either hover or perch. To catch small insects, it may fly out and grab them in midair, or hover to pluck them from foliage; sometimes takes insects from spider webs.


Eggs

2. White. Incubation is by female only, 14-16 days. Young: Female feeds the young, sticking her bill deep into their mouths and regurgitating tiny insects, perhaps mixed with nectar. Age of young at first flight about 23-26 days.


Young

Female feeds the young, sticking her bill deep into their mouths and regurgitating tiny insects, perhaps mixed with nectar. Age of young at first flight about 23-26 days.

Diet

Mostly nectar and insects. Takes nectar from flowers, and will feed on tiny insects as well. Will also feed on sugar-water mixtures in hummingbird feeders.


Nesting

Has been known to nest only a few times in the United States. Where the species is common, males gather in loose groups (scattered about 60-100 feet apart) and perch in trees, singing short songs to attract females. When female visits, male follows her back to her nesting territory and performs flight display. Nest site is 5-20 feet above ground in shrub or tree, saddled on twig or placed in fork. Nest (built by female) is a compact cup of grasses, moss, pine needles, spider webs, lined with plant down. The outside is camouflaged lichen and moss.

Illustration © David Allen Sibley.
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Text © Kenn Kaufman, adapted from
Lives of North American Birds

Migration

Probably a permanent resident over most of its range. Occurs north of Mexican border mostly in summer; has wintered at feeders in Arizona a few times.

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Migration

Probably a permanent resident over most of its range. Occurs north of Mexican border mostly in summer; has wintered at feeders in Arizona a few times.

Songs and Calls
Breeding male utters a long, monotonous clinking sound: tink-tink-tink.
Audio © Lang Elliott, Bob McGuire, Kevin Colver, Martyn Stewart and others.
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