Hummingbird Male Vs Female: How to Tell the Difference

Peter Pyle, staff biologist at The Institute for Bird Populations, says the head and neck feathers distinguish mature male and female hummingbirds.

"The adult males are all pretty easy to identify just based on the coloration of the gorget, which is the throat feathers, and the crown feathers, which are the glittering ones on the head that really flash when they hit the light," adds Peter.

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Female gorgets are less brilliant than males'. Their white necks may have dull gray-brown spots or a little patch of iridescent feathers, depending on the species. Their back and wing feathers are also less colorful.

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“With raptors like owls and hawks, the females are bigger and there's a really elegant theory behind that, involving prey size brought in to feed chicks,” Peter explains. He said academics don't know why female hummingbirds are bigger than males.

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You can also tell a male from a female hummingbird by its behavior. These birds have very distinct daily routines during breeding season.

When not hunting, males perch on trees and shrubs. The lookouts protect their territory and feeders from other males and watch for females to mate with.

“It’s typical with all birds that bigger, stronger males may dominate and be aggressive—especially toward other males,” adds Peter.