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Rufous Hummingbirds: Description & Similar Species

Hummingbird Information


Rufous Hummingbird (Selasphorus rufus)


Overview … Alternate (Global) Names

Distribution / Habitat and Status

Description and Similar Species … Calls / Vocalizations

Breeding / NestingDiet / Feeding



Size / Measurements

The Rufous Hummingbirds average 8 cm (3 inches) in length; and weigh between 3 – 4 grams.

The female is slightly larger than the male with an average weight: of 3.41 g, while the male’s average is 3.22 g.]

It has a wingspan of 10 cm or 4 inches.

Because of their small size, they are vulnerable to insect-eating birds and animals.



The adult male is easily identified by his vivid iridescent orange-red throat patch (gorget). His sides, face, upper plumage and black-tipped tail are reddish-brown. His chest, abdomen and throat (other than the reddish throat patch) are creamy white. Some males have some green coloration on the back and / or crown.

The female has a greenish-bronze crown and back with some white. She has iridescent orange streaks that gather together towards the middle of her otherwise white throat. She has a whitish chest and reddish-brown sides. Her tail is dark with white tips on her outer tail feathers with a rufous base.

They have a long, slender, nearly straight bill, and tiny feet. Their tail feathers taper to a point when folded.

Even though their wings are fairly short, Rufous Hummingbirds are known for their fast, darting flight and pinpoint maneuverability. They outfly all other hummingbird species and usually dominate at bird feeders against the slower, less-maneuverable hummingbirds.

Similar species:

Females, immature birds, and the rare green-backed males are extremely difficult to differentiate from Broad-tailed and Allen’s Hummingbirds. A proper id usually requires taking into consideration the breeding seasons and ranges of these species. The male Allen’s Hummingbird can be differentiated from the male Rufous Hummingbird by his green back, while the adult male Rufous Hummingbird’s back is rusty-colored.

They are also easily confused with the Calliope Hummingbird.

Rufous Hummingbird versus the similar Ruby-throated Hummingbird (Identification)

Species Research by Sibylle Johnson


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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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