Conservation status Has adapted fairly well to suburban habitats, but surveys still show decreasing populations in recent decades.
Family Hummingbirds
Habitat Brushy canyons, parks, gardens. Breeds in a variety of semi-open habitats, including open oak woods, streamside groves, well-wooded suburbs, city parks. Winters mostly in foothills and mountain forests in Mexico. Migrants also occur in high mountain meadows in late summer.
A close relative of the Rufous Hummingbird, Allen's has a more limited range, nesting mostly in California. This is one of the two common nesting hummingbirds in northern California gardens (Anna's is the other). Females and immatures of Allen's Hummingbird are almost impossible to separate from Rufous females without close examination, so the status of the species in migration is still being worked out by dedicated hummingbird banders.

Feeding Behavior

At flowers, usually feeds while hovering, extending its bill deep into the flower. At feeders, may either hover or perch. To catch small insects, may fly out and take them in midair, or hover to pluck them from foliage; also sometimes will take spiders or trapped insects from spider webs.


2. White. Incubation is by female only, 17-22 days. Young: Female feeds the young. The nest stretches as the young birds grow. Age of young at first flight about 22-25 days.


Female feeds the young. The nest stretches as the young birds grow. Age of young at first flight about 22-25 days.


Mostly nectar and insects. Takes nectar from flowers, and will feed on tiny insects as well. Favors red tubular flowers such as penstemon, red monkey-flower, red columbine, paintbrush, scarlet sage; also flowers of other colors, such as the yellow blooms of tree-tobacco. Will also feed on sugar-water mixtures in hummingbird feeders.


Male's courtship display is in J-shaped pattern: flying high, diving steeply with metallic whine at bottom of dive, then curving up to hover at moderate height; often preceded by a back-and-forth pendulum flight in front of the female. Nest site is in a tree or shrub, rarely on a weed stalk, usually low (but rarely up to 90 feet above the ground) on a horizontal or diagonal branch. Nest (built by female alone) is a neatly constructed cup of green mosses and plant fibers, held together with spider webs, lined with plant down. The outside is camouflaged with bits of lichen.

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

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One subspecies on California's Channel Islands and parts of the adjacent mainland (Palos Verdes Peninsula, etc.) is nonmigratory. The rest of the population winters as far south as southern Mexico. Moves north up the Pacific Coast in late winter, and at least some go south through the mountains in late summer.

  • All Seasons - Common
  • All Seasons - Uncommon
  • Breeding - Common
  • Breeding - Uncommon
  • Winter - Common
  • Winter - Uncommon
  • Migration - Common
  • Migration - Uncommon

See a fully interactive migration map for this species on the Bird Migration Explorer.

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Songs and Calls

A low chup, and an excited zeeee chuppity-chup.
Audio © Lang Elliott, Bob McGuire, Kevin Colver, Martyn Stewart and others.
Learn more about this sound collection.