Nature Canada
Neal Weisenberg

Meet North America’s Smallest Bird: The Calliope Hummingbird

Measuring three inches long and weighing in at just one-tenth of an ounce, the Calliope Hummingbird is a tiny sight to behold. Considered small even for a hummingbird, its hunched posture makes the Calliope Hummingbird look even more compact. Its standout feature is the magenta colouring on male’s throats. 

The Calliope Hummingbird can be found within British Columbia and Alberta and has even been spotted as far southwest as Saskatchewan. They like to breed in mountain meadows, thickets close to streams, and open forests regenerating from forest fires or logging. It’s the smallest migrating bird, spending winters in the pine-oak forests and open shrubby areas in Mexico.

Neal Weisenberg - Calliope Hummingbird
Neal Weisenberg – Calliope Hummingbird

A Name Good Enough For A Greek Muse

The Calliope Hummingbird gets its name from one of the muses of Greek mythology, Calliope, who represented eloquence and epic poetry. In ancient Greek, Calliope means “beautiful-voiced.” Given how this tiny bird has an unmelodic song typical of hummingbirds, we have to scratch our heads and wonder how the species ended up with the name. 

While they are quieter than most hummingbirds, you can still hear them making mechanical buzzing and twittering sounds vocally and with their wings. While in mating season, male calliopes hover in front of and above the female, producing a loud buzz. Sometimes the pair will go into an aerial dance, circling each other a constant distance apart.

Get Your Bird Feeders Ready

The Calliope Hummingbird gets its nutrition from the nectar of flowering plants, flying insects, and feeders put up by bird lovers. They forage for small flying insects by perching on a branch and diving to catch their prey in midair.

Thinking of setting up a hummingbird feeder? Don’t forget, it’s important to keep your bird feeders clean and the mixture fresh! It’s recommended to change the mix every four to five days, or more frequently during bouts of hot weather. 

Bird Friendly City Program

Birds of all shapes and sizes migrate to and from Canada, and the Calliope Hummingbird is one of them. It’s our job to make sure that our cities, towns, and municipalities are safe for these creatures to come and go and thrive in. Through the Bird Friendly City Program, people are coming together to make their cities safer for our winged friends. 

Learn more about what you can do to help and stay up to date by joining our email list. 

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Canada’s wilderness is the world’s envy. It’s our duty to keep our true north strong and green.