Deep Dive: Costa's Hummingbird

by Chris Anderson on May 28, 2023
Costa’s Hummingbird is less than 4 inches tall.1 They usually live in desert habitats in California and Arizona, within washes or sage scrub.2 They feed on plants like agave, desert honeysuckle, fairy-duster, ocotillo, and chuparosa, but will also eat at hummingbird feeders.2&3 Because they feed on naturally occurring desert plants, they have a very important role as pollinators.1
These hummingbirds have striking colors. Males will have an iridescent purple patch on their throats that extend down their necks on either side. The rest of their bodies will be green, white, and black. Females will look more muted with white and green coloring. If you look closely at these birds, when they are perched, they have a hunched posture.3
Costa’s Hummingbirds will nest toward the beginning of the year before the high heat of the summer kicks in.1&2 They’ll then migrate to skirt around the high temperatures during the summer. They’ll usually move to coastal areas in California and sometimes the northern parts of Mexico (although they won’t travel as far south as other hummingbird species).1&2
These hummingbirds can enter into a state of torpor to protect themselves from the weather and save energy. Hummingbirds in general are non-stop, and Costa’s Hummingbirds usually have a heart rate of up to 900 beats per minute! They can slow that down to 50 when needed!1
Lesson Planning Made Easy
If you’re looking for an easy way to mix things up in the classroom and help students learn more about wildlife, we’ve got just the thing:
The Great Predator Debate discusses the history and challenges of human and carnivore interactions throughout the western U.S. Hear from wildlife managers, wildlife advocates, recreational rights groups, hunting and ranching groups, and more about the future of wildlife. 
At a 45-minute run time, it makes for the perfect film to fit into a classroom lesson! (Recommended for ages 12+)

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