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Calliope Hummingbird

Scientific name: Stellula calliope

Length: 2 3/4 - 3 1/4 inches (7 - 8 cm)

Identification: The distinctive purple-violet streaks on the calliope hummingbird's white gorget (throat) distinguishes it from all other North American hummingbirds, which have solid-colored gorgets. Males are metallic green above with a whitish breast. Females are green above and white below, having white-tipped corners of tail feathers, dark streaks on the throat, and buffy (light yellow-brown) flanks.

Habitat and range: The calliope hummingbird is found in the mountain meadows of northwestern America and southern coastal British Columbia.

FYI: The calliope hummer is the smallest bird in North America at about 3 inches long. Since they inhabit the colder mountainous regions of western North America, they become torpid -- a type of hibernation or "noctivation" -- by lowering their body temperature at night, reducing their heartbeat, and bringing down their respiration -- to conserve energy. Source: "Calliope Hummingbird," Book of North American Birds, (Pleasantville, New York: Reader's Digest Association, Inc., 1990), p. 196. The tiniest hummingbird is the bee hummingbird of Cuba at 2 inches (5 cm) long -- which is an endangered species -- while the largest is the giant hummingbird of the Andes Mountains of South America at 8.25 inches (21 cm) long. Source: Donald F. Bruning, "Hummingbird," World Book Encyclopedia, 2005, Vol. 9, pp. 433-434. The word "calliope" comes from the Greek kalliope, meaning "beautiful voice." A calliope is a keyboard musical instrument, often played in circus parades and on riverboats, producing sound by sending steam through whistles. Joshua C. Stoddard of Worcester, Massachusetts invented the calliope in 1855. Evidently, the one who christened this hummer the "calliope" thought that it had a "beautiful voice." Of course, this has nothing to do with the voice of a calliope hummingbird, but, click on the link, if you would like to hear a calliope play the
"Stars and Stripes Forever" -- courtesy of Mechanical Music Digest's Calliope Home Page!

Outside links:

Pictures: click picture(s) for larger version, photo credits, and description.

Select a hummingbird by its name:
(in alphabetical order)

Allen's Hummingbird

Anna's Hummingbird

Black-chinned Hummingbird
Blue-throated Hummingbird


Booted Racket-tail Hummingbird


Broad-billed Hummingbird
Broad-tailed Hummingbird


Calliope Hummingbird


Costa's Hummingbird
Crimson Topaz Hummingbird


Long-tailed Hermit Hummingbird


Magnificent (Rivoli's) Hummingbird
Peruvian Sheartail Hummingbird   Plain-capped Starthroat Hummingbird   Red-billed Streamertail Hummingbird
Ruby-throated Hummingbird   Rufous Hummingbird   Sword-billed Hummingbird
Violet-crowned Hummingbird   White-eared Hummingbird   Xantus' Hummingbird

Select a hummingbird's nest by its name: (in alphabetical order)

Allen's Hummingbird (nest) & another

Anna's Hummingbird (nest) & another

Bearded Helmetcrest Hummingbird (nest)
Black-chinned Hummingbird (nest) & another & with mother


Broad-billed Hummingbird (eggs only)


Buff-bellied Hummingbird (nest)
Calliope Hummingbird (nest)


Costa's Hummingbird (nest) & another & with mother


Fork-tailed Emerald Hummingbird (nest)
Giant Hummingbird (nest)


Glittering-bellied Emerald Hummingbird (nest)


Golden-bellied Starfrontlet Hummingbird (nest)
Purple-throated Sunangel Hummingbird (nest)   Ruby-throated Hummingbird (nest)   Rufous Hummingbird (nest) & with parents
Sappho Comet Hummingbird (nest)   Xantus' Hummingbird (nest)  

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