The Americas are home to 352 kinds of hummingbirds, with the United States hosting as many as 15 of those species. Both Canada and the United States have similar legislation. In the states, an additional 9-10 species are known as vagrants and may appear from time to time.
The Costa’s hummingbird, a regular resident of southern California and Baja, as well as a migrant between the southwestern United States, is the species we’re looking at in this article. Mexico and the United States are also included. We’re about to present you with close-up and intimate pictures of this remarkable species, as well as some intriguing facts and details. Let’s get to the fun stuff right now, without wasting any more time!
MEET THE COSTA’S HUMMINGBIRD
COSTA’S HUMMINGBIRD OVERVIEW
Scientific name: Calypte costae
Weight: 2-3 g
The heat of the Sonoran and Mojave deserts, as well as the Baja peninsula’s coastal breezes, are comfortable habitats for these medium-sized hummingbirds. While other species are more retiring, Costa’s hummingbird may be lured to outside feeders.
Hummingbirds from Costa Rica have a squatting posture with a short neck and tail. In addition, unlike most other species, their bill is somewhat shorter. While the sexes are easily distinguished if you understand what to look for, Costas are mostly green and gray.
If the sunlight isn’t hitting the feathers just right, male Costa’s hummingbirds have an iridescent purple throat and crown that can appear almost black. Like a wide purple mustache, their purple gorget feathers stretch out on either side of the neck. Green on the back, white on the chest, and pale green down their sides. As the purple feathers gradually develop in one by one, immature males will develop a speckled appearance.
The back of a female is green, and the head and cheek are light grayish. The underparts are pale. They have a little white eyebrow stripe and white dots on their tail corners if you get a good close-up view. Costa’s females have an unmarked neck, which may be used to differentiate them from those of other species with throat spotting.
The Costa’s hummingbird has an interesting courtship display that it performs for the female during mating rituals. Those peculiar lengthy face feathers come into play there.
Males will conduct a flying performance that will take them directly towards a staring lady, where they’ll circle her a few times before soaring straight up and diving down in a large U-shape. This aerial performance might be prolonged for several minutes.
They will hover slightly near to the female, fanning out their facial feathers to catch the sunlight, until that isn’t enough to convey their message. Take a look at the video below for further information.
Males will watch their territory and pick between three to four perches that they may use to investigate intruders. On plants like ironwood, acacia, and palo verde, perches are usually dead twigs. Costa’s, on the other hand, are less aggressive than other hummers, and they will often be dominated by bigger hummers in “fighting.”
Costa’s stay in some areas all year and travel short distances throughout the year. Far southern California, Baja California (Mexico), and the Sonoran Desert in southwestern Arizona and northern Mexico are home to the population that remains in one area throughout the year.
Migrants may go as far north as the Sonoran Desert to breed in the spring, and may spend the winter along Mexico’s western coast.
In the winter, the migratory population stays on Mexico’s western shore, then breedes in the spring in Utah’s desert regions, as far north as Nevada’s and southern Utah’s desert regions.
The Sonoran Desert scrub, Mohave Desert scrub, and California/Mexican coast are the three major habitat types where Costa’s may be found. They may be found in the Sonoran and Mohave Deserts throughout the breeding season, although most of Costa’s leave after their juveniles are old enough to care for themselves. They may be heading for higher ground.
They spend their time in woodlands and scrub, especially around streams and springs, in the Mohave Desert. They may be found in desert scrub and deciduous woods with tree morning-glory, cardon cactus, and elephant tree on the California coast, but among desert scrub and deciduous woods with tree morning-glory on the Baja peninsula.
MATING & NESTING
The Costa’s breeding season lasts approximately mid-March to mid-April, although nest development may begin as early as January. The male creates a home and provides food and drink, attracting a female through the mating procedures we previously outlined.
The male keeps his area safe while the female Costa’s hummingbird creates the nest. She’ll make a cup-shaped nest of little leaves, bark, lichen, and downy plant material bound together with spider silk in about 5 days. In shrubs and trees such as palo verde, cholla, acacia, and ironwood, nests are about 3-7 feet above the ground.
For 15-18 days until the eggs hatch, she can sit in the nest and incubate them. It is just big enough for her to do so. She takes care of the chicks for around three weeks after they have fled the nest. The breeding season is coming to an end in May.
Costa’s are short-distance migrants since they only occur in a restricted region and are generally difficult to detect. However, most will come in February, when they reach their breeding grounds in early December or January. They can avoid the desert during the super hot summer months by nesting this way, which is possible from March to May.
During the summer, it’s less clear where they go, although they presumably head to higher elevation / cooler weather areas. They then migrate to northern Mexico in the autumn to spend the winter.
Costa’s are not on any population watch lists at the time of this writing. Between 1968 and 2015, the population decreased gradually, but it is still about 3.4 million people. The clearing of the desert scrub for urbanization and animal grazing, as well as desert fires, pose their greatest danger.
HOW TO ATTRACT THIS BIRD
Costa’s will visit backyard feeders if you live in the right location. Nonetheless, as previously stated, they regularly succumb to bigger hummers. Therefore, setting up a few feeders distributed around your yard may help the Costa’s choose from a variety of species. The “quieter” feeder, with less people, will be the most popular.
- Place sugar and water in hummingbird feeders.
- Penstemon, desert honeysuckle, chuparosa, fairy duster, and other tube-shaped colorful flowers are often planted or hung.
- Place a shallow birdbath or rock fountain in the area. Costa’s frequent, especially in hot and dry countries, will be drawn to any available water source.
FACTS ABOUT COSTA’S HUMMINGBIRDS
1. COSTA’S GET THEIR NAME FROM A FRENCH NOBLEMAN
In 1839, Jules Bourcier published the first formal description of the Costa’s. The Marquis de Beauregard, a French statesman, historian, and ornithologist, was the inspiration for Bourcier’s choice of name for the hummer. Hummingbird specimens were a big interest of Costa’s.
2. COSTA’S CAN TRAVEL MUCH FURTHER THAN THEIR TYPICAL DESERT HABITAT
Costa’s hummingbirds may be seen traveling beyond their usual area on occasion. They’ve been sighted in the Pacific Northwest, Alaska, and British Columbia, among other places in western North America.
3. TO CONSERVE ENERGY, COSTA’S CAN ENTER A TORPID STATE
In the desert, nights can be quite chilly. These hummingbirds may enter a torpor, or a state of decreased metabolism comparable to hibernation, in order to conserve energy. The Costa’s heart rate is able to slow to just 50 beats per minute while they are sleeping, compared to their normal reading of 500–900 beats per minute.