How to Detect a Female From a Male Hummingbird

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Around 300 different species of hummingbirds exist around the Americas in places such as the United States, the Caribbean, Ecuador and Canada. Major noticeable differences occur in male and female hummingbirds, such as appearances, overall size, breeding roles and behaviors. You can easily identify the sex of a hummingbird if you look closely.

Appearance

Male and female hummingbirds can be identified simply based on the color of their feathers. Male hummingbirds have bright feathers to attract females and to deter males by expressing their dominance. A patch of brightly-colored feathers on the necks of males is known as a gorget. A gorget's color range includes red, purple, orange, blue and pink. When hit with sunlight, the gorget will glisten due to refraction, or the bending of sunlight against the different-sized feathers. Males can make the gorget appear to be black to avoid attracting predators. Unlike males, female hummingbirds have no bright feathers to display. Females are often brown or dull green in color. Immature male hummingbirds typically resemble females in that they have no bright feathers.

Size

Although it is hard to tell, female hummingbirds are typically larger than males. For example, females usually weigh between 2.8 and 4.5 grams, while males weigh between 2.4 and 3.6 grams. This size difference is because females lay eggs and their bodies need to be able to support this process, from actually laying the eggs to sitting upon them to keep them warm.

Breeding

In mating situations, it is simple to tell a male and female hummingbird apart. Once a male hummingbird finds a female to mate with, he will do a series of dances to impress her. Sometimes females even join males in their dances. Males and females do not mate for life, and males play no role in caring for their offspring. After mating, the female will build a nest and raise her offspring on her own. Females will chase away males that come too close to their nest, as the bright males attract predators.

Behavior

In general, male hummingbirds are much more aggressive than females. They need to be aggressive to attract females and to defend their territory. Males also do a lot of scratchy chirping to attract females or to bicker with other males. Both male and female hummingbirds migrate to warmer temperatures, often traveling more than 2,000 miles to breeding grounds. Males often begin to migrate before females.

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Author

Amanda Williams has been writing since 2009 on various writing websites and blogging since 2003. She enjoys writing about health, medicine, education and home and garden topics. Williams earned a Bachelor of Science in biology at East Stroudsburg University in May 2013. Williams is also a certified emergency medical technician.