Best time to travel to Los Angeles

Hummingbirds in Los Angeles

This wee zippy bird moves so fast that you'll have to try hard to take a nice picture

Best time: mid-February–early September (best in May–July)

Rufous Kolibrí (Selasphorus rufus) in North Hills, Los Angeles, CA
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The world's smallest bird is one of the most amazing creatures on earth. Its name was given for the ability to "hum" while flapping its wings more than 150 strokes per second. These strokes create the "buzz" which resembles the sounds produced by a large bumblebee. Like no other birds, hummers can hover in the air and fly backward. You'll rarely find a seated hummingbird. Most of the time they fly from flower to flower searching for nectar. Each hummer boasts incredible coloring reminiscent of precious stones, and this bird's heart beats 1,250 times per minute during a flight, and 250 times in rest.

California has three endemic species of hummingbirds. Anna's hummingbird (Calypte anna) is the largest Californian hummingbird. Another common species is Allen's hummingbird (Selasphorus sasin), a coastal bird often spotted in Palos Verdes, San Pedro, Long Beach, and Catalina. The Costa's hummingbird (Calypte costae) occupies a desert area around Palm Springs and Palm Desert all year round.

Other species such as the black-chinned (Archilochus alexandri), rufous (Selasphorus rufus), calliope (Selasphorus calliope), and broad-tailed (Selasphorus platycercus) hummingbirds, migrate between Mexico and Canada across California. The migrators are seen in the Golden State between mid-February (when they start moving north) and early September (when they set off on the return journey south). The greatest variety of hummingbirds show up in Los Angeles from May to July.

Very often the hummingbirds fly into gardens of private houses and circle around flowers. The birds play an important role in nature—pollinating plants while collecting nectar. However, the hummers also feed on spiders and insects. You can attract a couple of these little guys to your backyard window by putting out a feeder filled with sugar water (one part sugar to four parts water). Just remember to clean and change your artificial nectar regularly, especially in warmer weather.

Practical info

When is the best time to visit California to see the greatest variety of hummingbirds?

In California, tourists can observe a variety of hummingbirds which are present throughout the year, including three endemic species. The migratory species arrives in California in between February and September, with the diversity being the greatest in Los Angeles between May to July, while one can spot the endemic Costa's hummingbird year-round in Palm Springs and Palm Desert. Allen's hummingbird can be witnessed throughout the year on Catalina Island, San Pedro, Long Beach, and Palos Verdes. Show more

Where can I spot Allen's hummingbird in California?

Allen's hummingbird is one of the coastal birds in California and found throughout the year on Catalina Island, San Pedro, Long Beach, and Palos Verdes. The bird has stunning coloring and exceptional hovering abilities. These birds play a significant role in pollinating plants while searching for nectar. Their swift flight and ability to fly without moving forward or backward make them an enjoyable sight for people to watch and capture in photographs. Show more

What is the difference between endemic and migratory hummingbird species in California?

Endemic hummingbird species do not leave a particular region and inhabit it throughout the year. There are three endemic species in California: the Anna's hummingbird, the Costa's hummingbird, and the Allen's hummingbird. Migratory hummingbirds visit different regions and seasons worldwide, stopping by California between February and September. The number of migratory species varies depending upon the time and location of their visit. Show more

How can I attract hummingbirds to my backyard in Los Angeles?

Hummingbirds can be attracted to a backyard by using different methods; putting out sugar water (one part sugar to four parts water), planting flowers containing nectar, and providing a water source. Since hummingbirds are attracted to the color red, it is best to keep a red-accented feeder. Nectar should be regularly cleaned and changed, particularly in warm weather. It is better to avoid pesticides and insecticides since they can harm the birds and plants. Show more

What role do hummingbirds play in pollinating plants in California?

Hummingbirds are essential in pollinating flowers by collecting nectar while transferring pollen from one plant to another. These birds are particularly fond of brightly colored flowers, with the preference for shades of pink and red. Besides pollination, they also feed on insects and spiders, making them a valuable asset to the ecosystem. By drawing hummingbirds to a garden, the overall health of the ecosystem and gardens can be positively impacted. Show more

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Last updated: by Eleonora Provozin