Rufous HummingbirdSelasphorus rufus

adult male
Laure W. Neish/VIREO
adult female
Dr. Joseph Turner/VIREO
Rolf Nussbaumer/VIREO
adult female
Laure W. Neish/VIREO
adult male
Glenn Bartley/VIREO
Rufous Hummingbird
Rufous Hummingbird



3 1/2-4" (9-10 cm). Male has bright rufous upperparts and flanks and iridescent orange-red throat. Female green above, with rufous tinge on rump and flanks, and much rufous in tail. Adult male Allen's Hummingbird has green crown and back; female and immature Allen's not safely separable from Rufous in field, but have narrower outer tail feathers. Female Ruby-throated and Black-chinned similar, but lack rufous on rump and flanks. See Calliope and Broad-tailed Hummingbirds.


An abrupt, high-pitched zeee; various thin squealing notes.


chips & trills #2
chips & trills #1


Mountain meadows, forest edges; on migration and in winter frequents gardens with hummingbird feeding stations.


Breeds from southeastern Alaska, British Columbia, southwestern Alberta, and western Montana south to Washington, Oregon, Idaho, and northern California. Winters mainly in Mexico. Occurs in small numbers along Gulf Coast during migration and in winter.


In the East, this species is known as a scarce migrant and winter visitor to Louisiana and Florida. While in that area it feeds chiefly on the flowers of hibiscus and salvia, which often bloom all winter long. A few birds generally spend the winter but may disappear abruptly when the first severe cold spell occurs. Hummingbirds share certain traits. The first bird to discover a source of food defends it. Even when satiated, it will perch nearby and intercept intruders in the air with angry buzzing. If a female is disturbed when feeding, she gives a "no trespassing" signal by fanning and waving her tail. Females, therefore, have developed distinct tail patterns, whereas males, facing the opponent, signal with their brilliant throat patches, called gorgets.


2 white eggs in a lichen-covered cup of plant down and spiderweb attached to a horizontal branch.

Similar Species

Broad-tailed Hummingbird

4-4 1/2" (10-11 cm). Male metallic green, with rose-red gorget; green crown; broad tail with little rufous.

adult male

Allen's Hummingbird

3-3 1/2" (8-9 cm). A very small hummingbird. Male has iridescent green crown and back; rufous rump and tail.

adult male

Calliope Hummingbird

2 3/4-3 1/4" (7-8 cm). The smallest North American hummingbird. Male metallic green above; has white gorget with purple-violet rays, which can be raised to give a whiskered effect.

adult male

Black-chinned Hummingbird

3 1/4-3 3/4" (8-10 cm). A small hummingbird. Male green above with iridescent black chin underlined by violet-purple throat band.

adult male

Ruby-throated Hummingbird

3 1/2" (9 cm). Tiny. Needle-like bill. Metallic green above, white below; male has brilliant, iridescent red throat. Immature male lacks red throat.

adult male

Anna's Hummingbird

3 1/2-4" (9-10 cm). A medium-sized hummingbird. Both sexes metallic green above; male has dark rose-red crown and gorget and grayish chest.


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