Male vs Female Hummingbird: What Are the Differences?

Hummingbirds are among the smallest birds in North America, and they are known for being small, beautiful, and fast. After all, they can beat their wings up to 80 times a minute! Like many other creatures in the animal kingdom, hummingbirds are sexually dimorphic, so there are differences between males and females of the species. Take a look at the unique qualities of male vs female hummingbirds and see how you can learn to tell them apart quickly and easily!

Comparing a Male Hummingbird and a Female Hummingbird

Male Hummingbird  vs Female HummingbirdMale hummingbirds have more brightly colored patches while female hummingbirds have duller colors.

A-Z-Animals.com

Male HummingbirdFemale Hummingbird
SizeWeight: 0.07oz-0.7oz Height: 2in-8inWeight: 0.07oz-0.7oz Height: 2in-8in
Gorget– Has a brightly colored patch on its chest to attract mates – Colors can be red, orange, blue, or others – Reflect and refract light– Lacks any bright colors on its gorget. – Common colors include white, dull brown, or green
Colors-Bright colors to attract mates – Integrate bright red, pink, green, and purple into their feather colors.-Have duller colors to avoid predators and safely incubate eggs – Common colors include white, brown, and dark green
Behavior– Show more aggression around food sites, including manmade feeders – Will leave the female after she has laid eggs – Perform courtship displays– Nesting behaviors are unique to females – Will aggressively defend their nests  

The 4 Key Differences Between a Male Hummingbird vs Female Hummingbird

hummingbird in flight with blurred backgroundMale hummingbirds are brighter and smaller than female hummingbirds

Keneva Photography/Shutterstock.com

The biggest differences between a male hummingbird vs a female hummingbird is their size, color, and gorgets. Female hummingbirds are slightly larger than males because they must carry and lay eggs.

Male hummingbirds are more brightly colored than female hummingbirds. Males’ colors include bright red, pink, purple, green, and more. A female hummingbird is usually dull in color compared to males, with dark green, brown, and white in their feathers.  

Lastly, male hummingbirds have brightly colored areas on their chest called gorgets. These gorgets integrate the brightest colors of the hummingbird’s feathers, and they are used to attract females. These are the greatest differences between male and female hummingbirds, and we’re going to explore them in more depth.

A The Best Nest Boxes Birds Will Actually Use for 2022

Male Hummingbird vs Female Hummingbird: Size

Male hummingbirds are smaller than female hummingbirds. Neither the males nor the females of this species get very large, though. Both males and females range between minuscule weights of 0.07oz to 0.7oz and only grow between 2 inches and 8 inches tall.

That being said, the female hummingbirds tend to be slightly larger than males because they have to produce and lay eggs, and that requires a bigger body. Thus, female hummingbirds are the larger of the two. Still, you probably won’t be able to differentiate between a male and female hummingbird just by looking at their size; they’re much too small for that.

Male Hummingbird vs Female Hummingbird: Gorget

close up of a ruby-throated hummingbirdThe orange pattern on the bird’s throat is called a gorget, and they are attributed to males.

iStock.com/Jessica Maruszewski

Male hummingbirds have a gorget and female hummingbirds do not. Gorgets are the most definitive feature of male hummingbirds aside from color, and they are the best way to tell them apart. A gorget is a patch of brightly colored feathers located around the throat of a hummingbird.

Male hummingbirds use their gorgets in an attempt to attract female hummingbirds for courtship. These birds will have gorgets that vary in terms of color and the brightness of the flowers. The birds that have the brightest gorgets are often the ones that are chosen for mating.

Interestingly, this patch of feathers has an iridescent sheen to it, making the feathers stand out from the rest of their body even more. If you see a hummingbird with a brightly colored throat, then it’s most likely a male.

Sometimes, the color of the gorget doesn’t end at the throat. It can extend to the birds’ head and wrap almost all the way around the eyes.

Male Hummingbird vs Female Hummingbird: Colors

Males have bright colors and females have dull colors. Male feathers may integrate a variety of bright colors including red, pink, and even the color purple. These colors are meant to catch the eye of a female hummingbird when the time comes to breed.

Although males have bright colors in their feathers, females do not. It’s believed that females try to keep a low profile to hide from predators since they are the ones tasked with nesting and incubating their young. Thus, common colors on female hummingbirds include white, brown, and dark green.

If you see a bird with a lot of bright colorings, especially on the neck and face, then you’re probably looking at a male!                                        

Male Hummingbird vs Female Hummingbird: Behavior

baby hummingbird chicks and motherFemale hummingbirds build their nests and raise their babies alone

Agnieszka Bacal/Shutterstock.com

Male hummingbirds are more aggressive than females when around food, but females are much more aggressive around their nesting areas and babies.

That is not the only difference in behavior between these two birds, though. Males will perform courtship displays that include complex vocalizations and flying techniques while showing off their colors. Male hummingbirds also do not mate for life; they leave the female after mating.

Females do the nesting along, and they are not afraid to defend the nests against larger creatures. Hummingbirds will even attempt to hurt humans if they get too close to their nests, but they are usually just trying to get you to leave.

Thus, if you see a hummingbird defending a nest of baby hummingbirds, then it’s probably a female.

Many differences exist between male and female hummingbirds. The easiest way to tell them apart from one another is by looking at their colors and gorgets. Other than that, behaviors provide some clues that can be evaluated with the other available information to clue you into their sex. However, size is neither a simple nor a reliable way for someone to tell if these animals are male or female from a distance.

FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions)

Do Hummingbirds Migrate?

Many species of hummingbirds migrate, and they do so alone. The distance they travel depends on where they are living.  

How Many Eggs Do Hummingbirds Lay?

Most of the time, hummingbirds only lay two eggs at a time. However, a female hummingbird can lay many eggs throughout her lifetime.

Are Hummingbirds Herbivorous, Carnivorous, or Omnivorous?

Hummingbirds are omnivorous birds. Although they are most often seen eating nectar or commercial foods that humans put out for them, hummingbirds will eat insects, spiders, and more. Interestingly, hummingbirds do not like to compete for food, so they will avoid flowers that have bees in or around them.  

Jack Benz

Leave a Comment