Black-chinned hummingbirds only live in a handful of states in the United States.
Ruby-throated hummingbirds are a prevalent hummingbird species that travel through or nest in nearly half of the country. Black-chinned hummingbirds are only found in parts of Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Nevada, Utah, Colorado, California, Arizona, New Mexico, and Texas.
If you’re lucky enough to live where they do, you can spot these little hummingbirds in nature or even attract them to your yard. If you live in North America, you will only have the chance to see them in the breeding season, which runs from spring to fall. After that, they migrate back to Central and South America to stay warm for the winter.
It can be pretty fun to show off your knowledge of Black-chinned hummingbirds when you see one, including being able to identify it as male or female!
How Do You Tell a Male From a Female Hummingbird?
The first thing to know is that hummingbirds are sexually dimorphic.
Sexually dimorphic animals are those whose appearance is dependent on their sex. Some species look the same at first glance, regardless of their sex. For example, you can’t know the sex of the average housecat unless you get pretty up-close and personal.
Hummingbirds, on the other hand, look different from each other depending on what sex they are. However, they are nowhere near the only sexually dimorphic birds.
Think about male and female cardinals, hens and roosters, peacocks, and peahens. You can quickly tell the difference between a male and a female just by taking a quick glance at these birds.
Female hummingbirds are slightly larger than males, as they need to be able to produce and lay eggs. Males are more colorful, as their bright coloration makes them more attractive to potential female mates.
Another reason females are less vibrant is that they need to hide more effectively from predators during the breeding season. If breeding females are snatched up by predators like snakes, cats, and larger birds, it’s not just one hummingbird that dies. It could potentially be the entire nest of hatchlings!
Behavioral Differences Between Male and Female Hummingbirds
The differences between males and females aren’t just appearance-based.
There are also behavioral differences.
Males are more aggressive than females around food sources. That’s one of the reasons you need to be thoughtful about where you hang your feeders.
However, females can exhibit territorial behavior, too! Instead of fighting to access a bird feeder, they will vigorously defend their territory when it is time to protect their young. If you get too close to a hummingbird nest, you might be the unintended recipient of a divebombing female who wants to chase you away.
Do Male and Female Hummingbirds Make the Same Sounds?
People don’t usually think of hummingbirds as noisy creatures, but they are actually quite expressive!
Check out this article about the wide range of hummingbird sounds that I wrote a few weeks ago. They can use their syrinx or their feathers to make these sounds. There are some differences between the sounds that males and females make.
Males use their tail feathers to “chirp” at females during mating rituals. Both males and females “hum,” which is, of course, where they get their name! They can also whistle and twitter at each other to communicate.
How Can You Tell the Difference Between a Male Black-Chinned Hummingbird and a Female Black-Chinned Hummingbird?
I love the appearance of both the male and the female Black-chinned hummingbird!
Black-chinned hummingbirds are not as populous as Rufous or Ruby-throated hummingbirds, but they’re also not rare. They are considered widespread in the regions where they live.
If you can get a close look at a Black-chinned hummingbird, it should be pretty easy to tell if it’s a male or female.
Male Black-Chinned Hummingbird
If you see a Black-chinned hummingbird from above, you’ll see its dull, metallic-green back. If you see it from the side or below, you’ll see its dull grayish-white chest and belly.
The head and throat of a male are both velvety black, though the throat fades into a shiny, almost iridescent purple.
Female Black-Chinned Hummingbird
Females have the same green back and grayish-white chest, but the throat is much paler in color.
Females also have broad white tips on their outer tail feathers.
Both females and males have black bills.
What About Immature Black-Chinned Hummingbirds?
In their immaturity, juvenile Black-chinned hummingbirds can look quite different from their adult state.
Immature males lack the dark head and throat. Instead, they may have a mottled head and just a hint of blue at the base of the throat.
How to Tell the Difference Between a Ruby-Throated Hummingbird and a Black-Chinned Hummingbird?
One thing to remember is that Ruby-throated hummingbirds and Black-chinned hummingbirds rarely live in the same regions.
Ruby-throated hummingbirds live from the Mid-West to the East Coast. Black-chinned hummingbirds live almost exclusively in western states.
If you are studying pictures of two hummingbirds, you can tell if one is a Black-chinned or Ruby-throated by looking at the throat.
A hummingbird’s throat is called its “gorget,” pronounced gor-jit. In males, a Ruby-throated hummingbird’s gorget is totally different from a Black-chinned one. Their names give the difference away, of course!
Male Ruby-throated hummingbirds have a vibrant reddish-purple gorget, whereas male Black-chinned hummingbirds have a black gorget with a small splash of purplish-blue at the base.
Females of these two species are harder to tell apart. Neither have the tell-tale colorful throats and chins, but their coloration is still different.
Female Black-chinned hummingbirds have those little white tips to their outer feathers. Their wings also extend past their tail. Ruby-throated hummingbirds have much longer tails.
How Can I See More Black-Chinned Hummingbirds?
If you want to see more Black-chinned hummingbirds, you will want to create a hospitable yard or garden!
You can use the same strategies to attract Black-chinned hummingbirds as you would for any other hummingbird species. Males and females are attracted to colorful, tubular blooms rich in nectar.
In addition to flowers, you can hang one or more hummingbird feeders! I recently wrote about the best hummingbird feeders I’ve seen on the market in 2022. Always provide clean sugar water in your feeders, and avoid letting them get overwhelmed by bees, ants, or other bugs.
Mold is another problem for hummingbird feeders, so be sure to clean each feeder regularly.
What to Look For When You Spot a Black-Chinned Hummingbird in Your Yard
Next time you see a Black-chinned hummingbird at your feeder or visiting one of your planters, take a quick look for those identifying male and female features.
A dark black head with a bit of blueish-purple at the base of the chin? That’s a male Black-chinned hummingbird.
A mottled head with a bit of iridescent green on the back? That’s your female Black-chinned hummingbird!
Good luck spotting these delightful little garden visitors! They may be small, but perhaps that is a big part of why they bring us so much joy when we see them!