yellow throated hummingbird

What’s the Story With Yellow-Throated Hummingbirds?

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Hummingbirds are some of the most vibrantly colored birds in the world. Their shiny iridescent feathers range from green and pink to orange and blue.

Are there yellow-throated hummingbirds? Because they are so small and move so fast, it can be difficult to get a good look at a hummingbird to identify its features or take a high-quality photo.

That can leave you with a lot of questions — did that hummingbird have a golden or yellow throat? Did I see some blue on that hummingbird’s head? What color were its back, belly, and wings?

You might spot some yellow or gold on a hummingbird’s throat and wonder, “What kind of hummingbird is that?” Well, we have answers for you!

There aren’t any hummingbirds with an all-yellow throat, but Allen’s Hummingbirds do have a golden-orange throat that can look yellow at a glance. Additionally, some hummingbirds end up with a yellow chest or throat because they have been feeding off of pollen-filled flowers, and the yellow pollen has rubbed off on them.

What Kind of Hummingbird Has a Gold Colored Throat?

Meet the Allen’s Hummingbird!

Allen’s Hummingbirds are mostly orange, but they are sometimes described as golden or golden-brown. The adult male’s throat is dark brownish-red, but the immature male or female will have a lighter-colored throat that may look golden.

When the sun hits just right, that dark red throat can shimmer like gold.

Allen’s Hummingbirds spend the summer breeding season on the Pacific Coast, rarely traveling inland. They migrate through southern California and most of Mexico, then spend the winter in a very small area around Toluca, Mexico.

What Is the Difference Between an Allen’s and an Anna’s Hummingbird?

If you live within the range of Allen’s Hummingbird, you’re also in the range of Anna’s Hummingbird. Being able to distinguish between these two can be a helpful skill!

Anna’s Hummingbirds are one of the most common hummingbirds on the west coast of North America. They are mostly iridescent green with a pale chest and throat. Anna’s Hummingbird male’s head is bright pink, and his throat is orange and pink. The female is plainer in her appearance.

Once you know that both Anna’s and Allen’s Hummingbirds are present in an area, you can usually differentiate between males very easily. Look for pink on Anna’s Hummingbird’s head, and red on Allen’s.

Females are more of a challenge, as they are not as colorful. However, you can distinguish between the two by looking for a lightly colored, iridescent green back on an Anna’s Hummingbird, and a mostly pale, beige back on an Allen’s.

Are There Any Yellow Hummingbirds?

If you see a photo of a yellow hummingbird, you should embrace your inner skeptic. Hummingbirds come in many gorgeous colors, but there are no all-yellow hummingbirds or even mostly-yellow hummingbirds.

The images that you’ve seen are likely just Photoshopped images designed to capture your attention — but not to reflect real life!

How Do Some Hummingbirds Get a Golden Yellow Throat?

yellow throated hummingbird

Some hummingbirds appear to have an all-yellow throat, which can cause some confusion for birders who can recognize their species otherwise.

How would a hummingbird like a Costa’s or Anna’s end up with a yellow throat, considering these small hummingbirds don’t have any yellow feathers?

It’s all in the pollen!

Hummingbirds with particularly long bills will reach deep into colorful flowers to consume the nectar they produce. When these flowers have a lot of pollen to distribute, the hummingbirds will unintentionally collect this pollen on their throats.

And there you have it! A yellow-throated hummingbird that shouldn’t have one at all.

What Is the Rarest Kind of Hummingbird?

There are some competitors for the rarest hummingbird, but a contender is definitely the Santa Marta Sabrewing.

This hummingbird is large compared to other hummingbirds, and it is only found in the Sierra Nevada de Santa Maria mountains in Colombia. At one point, they were suspected of being extinct, thanks to habitat destruction and deforestation.

However, as recently as 2022, these vibrant, blue and green hummingbirds were discovered in the region yet again!

Other rare hummingbirds include:

Can the Ruby-Throated Hummingbird Have a Yellow Throat?

Male Ruby-Throated Hummingbirds have a very easy-to-spot ruby-colored throat. Can they ever have a yellow or golden throat?

No, that wouldn’t be likely, especially because pollen is less likely to show up on their brightly colored throat and breast. However, they can have an orange-colored throat in some situations.

As birders have observed Ruby-Throated Hummingbirds that have what looks like an orange throat, naturalists have tried to understand what’s going on.

One popular theory is that the orange shows up as part of a summer molt on some individuals (please note that this article about the phenomenon has great information, but it also includes images of dead hummingbird specimens, which may be upsetting to some readers).

Mysterious Gold-Throated Hummingbird Collected in 2023

Earlier in 2023, researchers in Peru thought that they had discovered a brand new hummingbird species. The individual that they found had shimmering gold feathers on its throat, but as we’ve covered in this article, there are no other hummingbirds with a true, golden-yellow throat.

This specimen was collected in Cordillera Azul National Park in the Andes Mountains. The bird’s yellow throat suggested that it was a new species, but the researchers conducted DNA testing to be sure.

What they found is that the hummingbird was a never-before-documented hybrid! Its genetic parents are the Heliodxoa Gularis and the Heliodoxa Branickii.

This fascinating question remains: how does a hybrid of two pink-throated hummingbirds produce a yellow-throated one? This little bird and its coloration will continue to be a fascinating thing to study for biologists now and in the future!

The findings were reported in the Royal Society Open Science journal, in which researcher Chad Eliason said, “Based on the speed of color evolution seen in hummingbirds, we calculated it would take 6 (million to) 10 million years for this drastic pink-gold color shift to evolve in a single species.”

The Amazing Colors of Hummingbirds

Hummingbirds are fascinating creatures with incredible variations in their colors. In North America alone, you can expect to see the following colors:

  • Shimmering bronze
  • Dark and iridescent greens, including emerald green
  • A range of reds, including copper red, rose red, and reddish-brown
  • Purple
  • White
  • Gray
  • A variety of blues, from bright to dark blue

If you live on the west coast of North America, you may see an Allen’s Hummingbird with a throat that appears to be very dark, golden brown, or golden orange.

Throughout the world, hummingbirds of any color could have a yellow throat from pollen that rubs off while they are collecting nectar. And in Peru, one singular yellow-throated hummingbird has just been discovered as a new hybrid of two other species!

If you want to know more about hummingbirds, check out our Wild Bird Scoop hummingbird migration guide, which gives an overview of when hummingbirds arrive and leave each state in the US.

It also includes information about each state and which hummingbirds you will find there. With this information, you can be prepared to watch for the right hummingbird varieties at the right time for where you live.

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