Calliope Hummingbirds Grace Northern California

by Larry Jordan on April 27, 2010

Calliope Hummingbird photos by Larry Jordan

The Calliope Hummingbird is the smallest bird breeding in North America at a mere 3 1/4 inches in size.  I discovered these beauties when I went out to try and get some photos of the Rufous Hummingbirds I had seen at the feeders.

This female is so small, she half disappears as she enters a flower of the Sapphire Dragon tree blooming next to the feeder.  She is distinguished from the Rufous Hummingbird by her smaller size and wings which extend beyond her shorter, square tipped tail.

The buff color on her sides is lighter than on the Rufous Hummingbird and, if you look at the top photo you can see that, in front of her eye there is a dark spot, then a pale line that goes over the base of her bill.  Compare this to the perched Rufous Hummingbird female below.

Also the pattern of spots on the throat of the Calliope Hummingbird are smaller and more evenly distributed than those on the Rufous Hummingbird, but the facial pattern seems to me to be the most distiguishing difference for identification of the female.

The male Calliope Hummingbird, on the other hand, is easily identified by his gorget.

The male hummingbird gorget (pronounced gawr-jit, meaning “armor for the throat”) is arguably his most spectacular attribute.  The male Calliope Hummingbird’s gorget shows purple-red rays spreading out below his beak against an all white background.

Those feathers can also be folded like a dark inverted “V” on his throat.

He is the only hummingbird in the U.S. with this gorget pattern.

That iridescent green crown really makes him quite the jewel too, doesn’t it?

I found an incredible photo by Wally Rufous of the Calliope Hummingbird in a courtship display of his gorget.  You can see it here.  It is absolutely amazing!

Go check out the other posts at IATB #124 and Skywatch Friday!

Amber Coakley April 27, 2010 at 9:12 pm

I am super-wowed by that gorgeous gorget! And it’s hard to believe that the female in that second photo is practically consumed by that flower. Dazzling flower, BTW – pretty sure we don’t have those around here.

I had my first hummingbird visit the garden I built for them about 1 week ago. I’m pretty sure it is a Ruby-throat. Yay!

That picture you linked to is amazing! So THAT’s what those gorgets are for!
.-= Amber Coakley´s last blog ..Black-Crowned Night-Herons at The Rookery =-.

jason April 28, 2010 at 4:20 am

Fantastic shots! I love that second one. She pretty much could vanish inside that flower if she wanted to.

I’m fascinated by that linked gorget image. I’ve never seen one in full display like that. Beautiful.

Idaho_Birder April 28, 2010 at 8:09 am

Awesome photos! I just had a Calliope at my feeder this morning in the Boise Idaho foothills.
.-= Idaho_Birder´s last blog ..Virginia Rail at Carey Lake WMA, Idaho =-.

chris April 29, 2010 at 5:22 am

What a lucky man you are. I’ll give anything to get them over here… These are gorgeous birds and you got splendid photos. Probably not so easy thought as they move a bit 😉
.-= chris´s last blog ..Geese migration/Migration des oies =-.

Nisha April 29, 2010 at 11:51 am

Awesome birdy shots. I especially came to see the birds. 🙂
.-= Nisha´s last blog ..Sunset at Koh Phayam =-.

Tricia April 29, 2010 at 12:18 pm

If awards were being given out for best Sky Watch photos each week, you’d win it HANDS DOWN this round – Hummers are soooo hard to capture!
.-= Tricia´s last blog ..Sky Watch Friday – Spring Moon =-.

Martha Z April 29, 2010 at 12:21 pm

Great shots of the Calliope Hummer. I have had aa Annas display his gorget for me but of course, I did not have my camera at the time.
.-= Martha Z´s last blog ..Sky Watch—Death Valley =-.

Lily April 29, 2010 at 7:36 pm

they really are lovely! thanks for sharing these beautiful hummers!
.-= Lily´s last blog ..leaves of spring =-.

J Bar April 29, 2010 at 9:52 pm

Amazing captures.

Hilda April 30, 2010 at 12:02 am

Such wonderful captures and a great hummingbird tutorial! Thank you.
.-= Hilda´s last blog ..Curvilinear =-.

Irene April 30, 2010 at 3:23 am

The beauty of nature; the effort you made! Just lovely. Thanks for sharing.

Celine April 30, 2010 at 10:07 am

Excellent shots, thanks for sharing.
.-= Celine´s last blog ..SWF: Sundown =-.

Joy K. May 2, 2010 at 5:31 am

I love the bird-in-flower picture. In another context, the caption could read “Bird Consumed by Carnivorous Monster-Flower!”
.-= Joy K.´s last blog ..Silent Scream =-.

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