Costa’s Hummingbird
(Calypte costae)

The Costa’s hummingbird is a desert dweller. In Utah they can be found only in the Mojave Desert region in the southwestern corner of the state. They breed early, starting in March to avoid the heat of the summer. These hummingbirds are relatively common in the Red Cliffs Desert Reserve. They are most likely observed in southern Utah from spring through fall. However, some individuals have been wintering in Washington County during recent years.

Costa’s hummingbird have large heads but are very tiny. It is the only North American hummingbird with long flared extensions on the sides of its gorget that drape down like a big moustache. Its unique gorget and the top of its head flash a shiny metallic violet to purple color when they meet the rays of the sun.

Males perch on tall twigs or plant stems that rise above the deserty landscape of their territories. To defend his territory, he turns towards the rival and flares his colorful gorget. These hummingbirds are often heard before they are seen, and males sing a distinctive, high-pitched whistle, often repetitively, while perched or during their diving display.

Range map courtesy of