Allen's Hummingbird - Sure it's Not a Rufous?

Allen's Hummingbird, also known as Selasphorus sasin, is quite similar to the Rufous Hummingbird.

Although similar to the Rufous in appearance, it doesn’t cover the same ground. The Allen’s species is found predominantly in southern Oregon and along a small coastal California strip section.

It’s also similar to the Broad-tailed Hummingbird. In fact, Allen’s, Broad-tailed & Rufous are all of the same genus, Selasphorus.


Male Colors: Red, iridescent throat. Head & back are a metallic, dull bronze or green. Cinnamon colored flanks & sides of chest.

Female Colors: A dull white chest, chin & throat. Red patch at center of throat. Head is a dull bronze-green. Cinnamon at flanks & side.

Size: Tiny, about 3 inches.

Bill: Black, straight, long bill.

Tail: Male tail feathers are “pointed” orange. Dark at the tips. Very narrow outermost feather. Female has 3 outermost tail feathers that have white tips, a black middle & an orange base. The middle tail feathers are bronze-green and have orange to green base & dusky tips. Cinnamon color shows on the undertail.

Feeding Habits

Like all hummers, they’ll feed from your feeder. As well, they feed on tree sap, insects and nectar from flowers. They can pluck insects in mid-flight or hover over flowers or shrubs and snatch them from the leaves and branches.

These are aggressive hummingbirds when it comes to defending their food sources. They’ve been known to attack and get rid of birds that are many times bigger.

Allen’s Migration & Habitat

These little guys leave for their spring breeding grounds earlier than other hummingbirds. They’ll sometimes leave in early December and be in their California and Oregon areas by January to mid-March.

As well, they’ll start south early. Many times they start their southward journey in May and arrive in the Mexico region in August.

There are two sub-species of Allen’s. One lives in California all year and the slightly smaller species is the one that migrates to Mexico. There have been sightings along the Gulf Coast, too.

The Allen's Hummingbird likes to live and breed in forests, scrubs and coastal areas that are moist.

Mating Habits & Nesting

When males come north to find feeding and mating areas they like to settle in shrubbery areas or in places that look over coastal scrubs. On the other hand females like to build nests with greater areas of tree cover.

When courting a female the male Allen’s will swing back and forth like a pendulum. He arcs like this at about 25 feet and then flies up to about 100 feet and does his dive from there.

Nests are usually built about 1-15 yards off the ground. The female likes to use trees and shrubs that have a lot of thickets, vines and other types of vegetation. You’ll find their nests inside the shrubs or sitting on a small tree branch or twig.

Like other hummers they’ll use spider webs to weave together leaves and grass. They line the inside of the nest with downy resources and the outside is covered with lichens, bark and moss.

They lay two eggs. The eggs take between twelve and twenty-two days to hatch.

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Hummingbirds > Types of Hummingbirds > Allen's Hummingbird