The Black-chinned hummingbird, belonging to genus Archilochus, is a migratory hummingbird species that commonly inhabit western parts of North and Central America. It is considered as one of the most adaptable hummingbird species, often residing in urban areas. According to Partners in Flight, their current worldwide breeding population stands at five million.
Species: A. Alexandria
The scientific name for Black-chinned hummingbird is Archilochus Alexandria.
Adult Black-chinned hummingbirds are 8.25 centimeters in length, and their weight is between 2.7 to 4.2 grams. Their wingspan is 40 to 49 millimeters. Their plumage is metallic green on the upper parts, and white with green flanks on the underparts.
They have a slender, straight and long bill. Adult males possess black chin and face; and a dark, forked tail. Unlike females, males possess a shiny purple throat girdle. Females have a rounded tail along with white tips. Females are mostly less brightly colored compared to males. The color of the juveniles are similar to that of an adult female, but with yellowish-beige margins on the upper part feathers.
They prefer to inhabit river groves, semi-arid countrysides, and suburban areas. They mostly breed in various types of semi-open habitats including oak groves, brushy areas, towns and streamsides. In the south-west, they are generally found along desert rivers and dense washes. They often move to higher elevations after the breeding season.
During breeding season, their northern range can be as far as British Columbia in Canada, from where their range extends southward to the western parts of US including west and South Texas, New Mexico, Colorado, Utah, Washington, Oregon, and California. Their non-breeding range is confined to the west coast of Mexico. During migration, they pass over Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, and Florida.
They are solitary, diurnal bird, staying active mostly during day-time. Pairs are only formed for breeding. As soon as breeding ends, pairs part ways. Males are extremely territorial. They do not allow any rival male in its territory. They can capture insects while in flight. They are capable of capturing many insects in a swarm. In between foraging, they sit on a branch and survey its territory. They can feed on flower nectar by stretching forward its tongue to the corolla while hovering in the air. While feeding on nectar, they also help in plant pollination. Their energy consumption rate is extremely high. They have to feed on short intervals to support its rapid metabolic rate.
Archilochus alexandri is a polygynandrous species. Their breeding season starts in April and goes on till September. Females construct the nest even before meeting a mate. Nest making process can go on for 3 days. The nest, which is 3 or 4 centimeters in diameter, is made with plant fibers, spider webbing, twigs, and animal hairs.
Once the nest making is complete, female look for a suitable mate. Courtship displays of the male include various types of airborne exhibits in order to impress females. Males go back and forth in a ‘U’ shape flight, or come closer or go further away from the female, or fly straight up in the air and dive back at great speed toward the female. Males also emit various sounds like a part of its mating display. Female lays up to 2 eggs following copulation. The eggs are white, around 1 centimeter in length and around 7 mm in width. Incubation goes on for 12 to 16 days, and it is entirely done by the female. The chicks are featherless and their first set of feathers show up within the first three weeks from hatching. The female alone feeds and take care of the hatchlings. The young ones take their first flight when they are three weeks old. The juveniles tend to be a lot larger compared to their parents. As they grow older, their size decreases. They reach sexual maturity at the age of one.
They feed on nectar from several plants including, tree tobacco, firecracker plants, larkspur and desert-honeysuckle among others. Small insects, such as spiders, ants and flies, are their primary source of protein. They mostly consume small insects during migration.
In the wild, their lifespan is between 8 to 11 years. The longest known lifespan of an individual was 11 years and 2 months.
Both male and female emit various types of sounds including, chirps, rasps and buzz trills. Often, when feeding, they produce short notes to inform nearby hummingbirds about their presence.
In the wild, their predators include roadrunners, foxes, cats, and snakes among others. However, thanks to their great light abilities, they are able to escape most of them.
The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species has kept Archilochus alexandri in the ‘Least Concern’ category.
This species is known to form hybrids with other hummingbirds. The hybrid between Black-chinned hummingbird and Anna’s hummingbird was named Violet-throated hummingbird (Trochilus violajugulum). However, it is difficult to identify hybrid individuals as they share the characteristics of both its parents.
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