At a Glance
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.
All bird guide text and rangemaps adapted from Lives of North American Birds by Kenn Kaufman© 1996, used by permission of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
Arroyos and Canyons, Desert and Arid Habitats
Flitter, Hovering, Rapid Wingbeats
Range & Identification
Migration & Range Maps
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.
3 1/2" (9 cm). Broad white ear stripe, blackish cheek patch. Male has shining green and purple on head (but often looks dark), red bill base. Female and young have duller bill, paler underparts with green spotting. Note that some other hummers have white ear stripes. Broad-billed Hummingbird can be very similar but has longer bill, more blue-black in tail; usually in drier habitat.
About the size of a Sparrow
Black, Green, Orange, White
Narrow, Rounded, Short
Notched, Rounded, Square-tipped
Songs and Calls
Breeding male utters a long, monotonous clinking sound: tink-tink-tink.
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.
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2. White. Incubation is by female only, 14-16 days.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Widespread and locally very common in Mexico. Could be vulnerable to major clearing of forest in mountains.