How to Identify Female Hummingbirds: A Comprehensive Guide

Identifying female hummingbirds can be challenging since they look similar to their male counterparts. However, there are distinguishing features, such as the shape of their bills and the colors of their feathers.

To tell female hummingbirds apart, check for a shorter bill than the males and less bright coloring. Hummingbirds are among the most captivating birds due to their incredible abilities, such as flying backward and hovering in one place.

Identifying the females is crucial, especially during breeding season when they gather resources for their young ones. Being able to tell them apart also helps researchers monitor and collect data on different species of hummingbirds.

Physical Characteristics of Male and Female Hummingbirds

Male and female hummingbirds exhibit some physical differences, although the specific characteristics can vary among different species.

Here are some general physical characteristics of male and female hummingbirds:

Male Hummingbirds

  • Plumage: Male hummingbirds often have more vibrant and colorful plumage compared to females. They may have iridescent feathers that can appear bright and shimmering, displaying a range of colors like green, blue, red, or purple.
  • Throat Patch or Gorget: Many male hummingbirds possess a distinct throat patch or gorget, which is often brightly colored. This gorget can appear brilliant when the bird is in good light or during displays.
  • Tail Feathers: Males may have elongated tail feathers, called streamers, which can extend beyond their body length. These streamers can add to their overall visual appeal and are used during courtship displays.
  • Size: In some hummingbird species, the males can be slightly larger in size compared to females, although the difference may be minimal.

Female Hummingbirds

  • Plumage: Female hummingbirds generally have less vibrant plumage compared to males. Their feathers are often duller and lack the bright iridescent colors seen in males. This muted plumage helps them camouflage and blend into their surroundings.
  • Throat Markings: While males have a distinct Gorget, females may have subtle markings on their throat, but these markings are usually less prominent and less colorful.
  • Tail Feathers: Females typically have shorter tail feathers compared to males. Their tails are often rounded or slightly forked, without the elongated streamers.
  • Size: In many hummingbird species, females are slightly larger or similar in size to males, but there can be variations depending on the species.

Behavioral Differences Between Male and Female Hummingbirds

Male and female hummingbirds also exhibit some behavioral differences, particularly related to courtship, territory defense, and nesting. However, it’s important to note that these behaviors can vary among different species.

Here are some general behavioral differences between male and female hummingbirds:

Male Hummingbirds

  • Courtship Displays: Males often engage in elaborate and energetic courtship displays to attract females. These displays can involve flying in specific patterns, diving, or hovering in front of females while displaying their colorful plumage.
  • Territory Defense: Males are generally more aggressive in defending their feeding territories and nesting areas. They may vigorously chase away other males or intruders from their territories.
  • Singing and Vocalizations: Male hummingbirds may produce unique vocalizations, songs, or chirping sounds during courtship displays or territorial defense. These vocalizations can help attract females or communicate with other males.
  • Mating Competition: Male hummingbirds compete with each other for access to females. They may engage in aerial battles, chase each other, or perform competitive displays to establish dominance and secure mating opportunities.

Female Hummingbirds

  • Nest Building: Females are primarily responsible for constructing the nest where they will lay their eggs. They collect and weave materials like plant fibers, spider silk, and moss to create a small cup-shaped nest, often placed on a branch or in a protected location.
  • Incubation and Nest Care: Once the eggs are laid, females undertake the responsibility of incubating the eggs and caring for the hatchlings. They keep the eggs warm by sitting on them and feed the young birds after they hatch.
  • Selecting Mates: Female hummingbirds have the choice of selecting a mate based on various factors, including the male’s display quality, plumage, and vigor. They may assess multiple males and choose the most suitable mate.
  • Feeding and Foraging: While both male and female hummingbirds feed on nectar, females may spend more time foraging for insects and spiders, as these provide essential protein for egg development and chick rearing.

Can Hummingbirds See Gender Differences in Other Hummingbirds?

Can hummingbirds see gender differences in other hummingbirds? Hummingbirds have exceptional vision and can see colors that humans can’t. However, their ability to distinguish gender differences in other hummingbirds is not well understood. While they may be able to detect certain physical traits, such as size or plumage, it is unclear how far can hummingbirds see these subtle differences. Further research is needed to uncover the extent of their visual capabilities in this regard.


Identifying female hummingbirds can be tricky but it’s important for bird enthusiasts. Spotting female hummingbirds can be done by observing their size, coloring, and behavior.

Female hummingbirds are larger than the males and lack the bright, iridescent feathers. Look for greenish-gray plumage and a straight, pointed beak.

Females also tend to be more aggressive towards other birds. You can better appreciate these creatures’ incredible diversity and beauty by identifying both male and female hummingbirds.

Remember, every bird sighting is a privilege and a chance to learn more about the world around us.



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