Hummingbirds of the Pacific Flyway

As you may have heard, Audubon is all about hummingbirds these days. With that in mind, we thought we'd share with you a quick primer about some of the hummingbirds that ply the Pacific Flyway this time of year. These certainly aren’t all the hummingbirds, but they’re a good start. (photo of Anna’s Hummingbird by Lee Karney/USFWS)

Anna’s Hummingbird

The Anna’s Hummingbird might be the most common of the hummingbirds to frequent California. Once restricted mainly to west side of California and Baja, it has expanded its range clear up intoCanada– but still sticking to the far west. It’s a striking bird, with green feathers and a red-pink chin. This hummingbird’s migratory patterns are complicated and, to a nonscientist, hard to follow. It doesn’t head down to South America or anything like that. Instead, it might move to higher elevations or other local areas more to find food than anything else.

Allen’s Hummingbird

The Allen’s Hummingbird looks quite a bit different from the Anna’s, but similar to the Rufous Hummingbird. It has a lot of rust in its feathers, with a bit of green, and pink around the chin. Unlike the Anna’s, the Allen’s has a distinctive migratory pattern between breeding areas along the California and Oregon coasts to winter areas of southern Mexico. The thing is, the timing of this migration is a bit unusual. It will arrive in California for breeding season as early as January, and then start heading back south to “winter” as early as May or June. (photo by USFWS)

Rufous Hummingbird

The Rufous Hummingbird is coming up the coast right now from its winter ground in Mexico. People are seeing them in California as the birds head toward the Pacific Northwest and Canada to breed. (photo by USFWS)

Black-chinned Hummingbird

The Black-chinned Hummingbird enjoys a wider range than any of the other hummingbirds on this list. While it is a migratory bird in the northern part of the state, the birds in the far south probably look more like residents. When they do migrate, they’re heading down to the west coast of central Mexico. The Black-chinned Hummingbirds begin to arrive in northern California in April. (Photo by Peter LaTourrette)

Costa’s Hummingbird

This is a classic desert bird, known to frequent the hot places of the Southwest, includig the Sonoran and Mojave deserts. That said, it’s not always at the desert – in the really hot months, it may move over to the scrub habitats of the Pacific Coast. It is a migratory bird, but the patterns vary among the birds that reside and breed in specific deserts and in Mexico. (photo by Peter LaTourrette)

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