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Calliope Hummingbird

Stellula Calliope

North America’s smallest bird, the Calliope weighs about as much as a ping pong ball! The iridescent throat feathers create a reddish-purple fan called a ‘gorget’. This gorget is a defining feature on the males. Both males and females have iridescent green backs and wings, with pale underparts.

Did you know?

Many bird species have iridescent feathers, which appear to glow. How does it work? We see colour as the reflected wavelengths from “white” light. That is, if we see something as blue, it’s the blue wavelength that is reflected from the surface – the rest of the colour spectrum is absorbed. In the case of iridescence, the feather structure contains microscopic structures that reflect the different wavelengths based on the angle of light. So, as the viewing angle changes, so does the colour – the effect is electric!

Where it lives

In spite of its size, this hummingbird winters in Mexico and ranges up into middle and eastern BC and western Alberta. This migration sees them travelling up to 8,000 km’s a year! They prefer open forests and woodland edges, orchards and flower gardens.

Conservation concern

Low conservation concerns.

  • The Cornell Lab of Ornithology
  • E-Bird Canada
  • BC Bird Atlas

What you can do

Consider hanging a hummingbird feeder to attract these and other hummingbirds. Remember though, feeding birds is a responsibility – don’t start something you are not prepared to commit to. To ensure you’re prepared to take this on, here is a good article.

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