Calliope Hummingbird! and NM hummingbird migration

Every year in late summer two species of hummingbirds migrate south through New Mexico and join the common Black-chinned and Broad-tailed Hummingbirds (in the lowlands and mountains respectively). The Broad-taileds also head down slope after they finish breeding at higher elevations. The odd thing is that Rufous and Calliope Hummingbirds don’t migrate north through the state, instead taking a more westerly route through Arizona and California. Late July and August is the time for New Mexican birders to get their chance to see these two distinctive species.

I saw a few Rufous Hummingbirds last summer but kept missing the tiny Calliope Hummingbird, North America’s smallest bird species. I’d never seen one, in fact…until today! I promised myself that this summer I would park myself in front of a feeder at the nature center for as long as it took to see this life bird. I didn’t know it would take all of ten minuets or that I wouldn’t have to sort out a female Calliope from the more numerous female Broad-taileds.


Melissa and I watched the little guy from about eight feet away or so and got great looks. The raspberry-colored streaks on his throat are individual feathers that stick out a little bit, giving the impression of droplets raining out from the bast of the bill. You can see that better in these photos:

Calliope Hummingbird; photo by oldbilluk from Flickr used under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

Calliope Hummingbird; photo by Len Blumin used under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

In addition the the lovely Calliope Hummingbird (US #545, NM #298, Bernalillo #220), we saw a few each of Broad-tailed and Rufous Hummingbirds, and dozens of Black-chinned Hummingbirds. Other birds were fairly quiet save for a vocal Summer Tanager and Ash-throated Flycatcher. I did notice a few early migrant Chipping Sparrows in the garden.

If you’re in New Mexico, check out those hummingbirds over the next month: you might see four different species.

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6 Responses to Calliope Hummingbird! and NM hummingbird migration

  1. Linda says:

    The Rufous and Calliope hummers arrived at my apt. feeders yesterday as well. I just spent an hour on my back patio with all my hummer friends. I have 2 feeders and in the evenings have 12-16 birds vying for space at the feeders. The Black-chinned and Broadtails are especially feisty when the aggressive Rufous are in town. The Callipoes just find their spot and eat – – the other birds don’t normally try to chase these little ones away.

    • Matt says:

      That sounds like a great way to spend an early evening. I’m looking forward to having a yard soon where I can set up feeders. The Calliope I saw seemed wary so it’s surprising that yours aren’t bothered by the other species.

  2. Pingback: Selected Blog Post–Hummingbird Migration in the Southern States Wildbird Blog for Nature Enthusiasts Duncraft's Wild Bird Blog

  3. vivian flamenco says:

    I live in Northeast Mississippi, and a calliope spent the winter in my backyard. I have been expecting her to leave here any day, but she still shows up regularly at my feeders. Any idea when she might leave and head back to the Rockies?

    • Matt says:

      Congrats on hosting such a great bird for the winter! I’d imagine she should be leaving any day now unless she is not healthy. I looked on eBird to check Calliope Hummingbird records in the southeast. Louisiana and Texas have records into the third week of April. (Even if you don’t have an eBird account, you can make bar graphs of bird species observations throughout the year under the “Explore Data” tab on the main page.) Has your hummingbird been banded? You might be able to contact someone at to have it banded or, if it showed up at your yard already banded, have someone read the band number to see where else she has been. Either way, your hummingbird visitor would help researchers learn more about hummingbird migration!

      • Vivian says:

        Yes, my calliope has been banded by Mr. Bob Sargant who is from Alabama. He came to my house when I called him about the wintering hummingbird. He was excited to discover that she was a calliope. I think she might be gone by now (April 19). The last time I KNOW I saw her was last Wednesday, April 11.

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