Common Valley Hummingbirds

By Jim Gain

Learn 100 Common Valley Birds is a photo blog series highlighting the 100 most common Valley bird species.

Post #2 in the Learn 100 Common Valley Birds series. (Species 2, 3 and 4/100.)

This is a three-fer post featuring the three most common hummingbirds, Anna’s, Black-chinned and Rufous that are likely coming to your feeders right now (summer). When viewed in direct sunlight with their resplendent gorgets in full glory, few birds elicit a reaction quite like hummingbirds do. The hummingbird represents an ancient symbol of joy and happiness. Its colorful appearance brings good luck and positive energy to our lives.

Let’s start with the most common one, Anna’s Hummingbird.


Anna’s Hummingbird – Male


Anna’s Hummingbirds are Common Year-round Residents of the Central Valley and are frequently found at backyard feeders. Like many hummingbird species, these three are sexually dimorphic with the males having the boldest and easiest to identify markings. At 3.9 inches in size, Anna’s Hummingbirds are the largest of the three hummers in this post.


Adult male Anna’s Hummingbirds feature a bold pinkish-ruby gorget (throat patch) that is subtended (bordered along the bottom) by a grayish-white breast. The pinkish-ruby feathers also appear on the top of their head.

Anna’s Hummingbird – Male

Females and first-year male Anna’s Hummingbirds are more challenging as they lack the pinkish-red gorget and head feathers.

Anna’s Hummingbird – Female



The Black-chinned Hummingbird is a Fairly Common Summer Visitor, arriving in mid-April and hanging around the Central Valley until mid-September. At 3.5 inches, the Black-chinned Hummingbird is slightly smaller than the Anna’s Hummingbird. The Black-chinned Hummingbird is the second-most likely hummingbird that residents will encounter of the 6 hummingbird species that have visited the Central Valley.

Throughout the Central Valley, this species is widespread in many habitats at low elevations, often coming into backyard gardens and nesting. Other hummingbirds may stay through the winter, at least in small numbers, but the Black-chinned Hummingbird is almost entirely absent from the valley in winter.


Black-chinned Hummingbird – Male

The Black-chinned has a thinner, longer and straighter bill than both the Anna’s and Rufous hummingbirds. It is metallic green above and dull grayish-white below. They are best identified by their smallish gorget that is bordered by a pure white throat. Their gorget tends to look solid black unless viewed straight-on in good light when the lower edge takes on a glowing purple hue.

Black-chinned Hummingbird – Male

As with the other hummingbirds featured in this post, females and first-year males lack the colored gorget and make identification a challenge that is best left for the experts.

Female, Creative Commons Image by VJAnderson



The Rufous Hummingbird is a Fairly Common Spring & Fall Migrant as it travels between its wintering grounds in Mexico to its nesting territory in Canada. It can be seen visiting feeders in March to April and again on its return journey from mid-July to mid-September. At 3.3 inches, the Rufous Hummingbird is the smallest of the three hummingbirds featured in this post.

The Rufous Hummingbird is North America’s “extremist” hummingbird, venturing far from the equatorial tropics, it reaches the northernmost latitude of any hummingbird (61° N). (From Birds of the World)


Rufous Hummingbird – Male

The Rufous Hummingbird stands out from Anna’s and Black-chinned by the bold rufous coloration on its belly, back and tail feathers. It has a white throat and adult males have a brownish-red gorget.

Rufous Hummingbird – 1st Year Male

First year males tend to have greenish instead of rufous feathers on its back.

Previous posts from the Learn 100 Common Valley Birds series,

5 thoughts on “Common Valley Hummingbirds”

  1. Hi Jim,
    Really like this series as well as your new Stanislaus County Birds website. I’m a fairly new member of Stanislaus Audubon as I recently moved to Oakdale from Pleasanton. Hope to have the opportunity to meet you someday.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.