Backyard Birds

Black-chinned Hummingbirds: Description, Similar Species & Behavior

The Black-chinned Hummingbirds average 8.25 – 9.5 cm (3.2 – 3.7 inches) in length, and weigh between 3.0 -3.5 g (0.11 – 0.12 oz). Females are generally larger than males, weighing around 3.5 g (0.12 oz), while the male weighs in at about 3.0 g (0.11 oz). (Dawson 1923; Terres 1980).

Common physical traits: The adult of either gender has a metallic green upper plumage and a whitish under plumage with green flanks (sides). Both sexes have a white spot behind their eyes. The black bill is fairly straight, long and slender.

The adult male can easily be identified by his velvet black face and chin. The upper throat is black, but there is a glossy blue-violet band on the lower throat area (only visible in the right light conditions), bordered by a white collar below. His tail is dark and forked.

Black-chinned Hummingbird (Archilochus alexandri)

The female has a green face, white chest and throat area with a few black spots. The female has white tips on the outer feathers of her dark, rounded tail.

Immature males look like females but may have dark streaking on the throat. Immature females look like adult females.

A rare leucistic hummingbird was photographed in New Mexico. An image is published below, additional photos are available via the following webpage:

White Black-chinned Hummingbird Images

Hummingbird Resources

Similar Species:

The male Black-chinned Hummingbird can easily be confused with the male Costa’s Hummingbird and Anna’s Hummingbird – both of which have a purple throat. Although none of them have the black upper throat of the Black-chinned, their purple throat can appear black in poor light. However, the Costa’s and Anna’s Hummingbirds can be differentiated from the Black-chinned by the broad extensions on the sides of the throat.

Female Black-chinned Hummingbirds look similar to females of other species that might occur in their range, for example the female Ruby-throated Hummingbirds. The Ruby-throated Hummingbird’s outer flight feathers are knife-shaped, but they are club-shaped in the black-chinned.

Juvenile White Male Black-chinned Hummingbird (Archilochus alexandri)
Female Black-Chinned Hummingbird


The Black-chinned Hummingbirds are solitary birds. Males and females only get together for the few seconds it takes for them to mate and they will separate immediately afterwards.

They are usually seen hovering at flowers and feeders, darting erratically to catch flying insects. During hovering, a low-pitched humming sound can be heard – which is produced by its wings.

These birds are very territorial. Males guard their territories from a high perch and give vocal warnings to intruders. When warnings are ignored, they will make excited chippering sounds and proceed to chase the intruders.


Gordon Ramel

Gordon is an ecologist with two degrees from Exeter University. He's also a teacher, a poet and the owner of 1,152 books. Oh - and he wrote this website.

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