Allen’s Hummingbird

Selasphorus sasin

Name root – Selaphorus, selas meaning “light” and phorus meaning “carrying”; meaning of sasin has been lost since its original description by Rene Lesson but may refer to the Nootka Indian name for the bird.  Named for C. A. Allen, an amateur ornithologist who thought he collected the type specimen in 1877, but later found out it was originally described by Rene Lesson in 1830.

Distribution – Breeds from southwestern Oregon south to southern California.  Winters in the highlands of central Mexico primarily in the states of Mexico, Distrito Federal, Morelos and Puebla.

Texas – Rare but regular fall migrant and winter visitor to west Texas east to the coastal plains.  The first birds usually arrive in late July in west Texas, with some birds still moving through in November.  Winter birds can occur at selected locations in the southern half of Texas from El Paso to east Texas.  Some wintering individuals can linger into early spring.  Most of the valid information on the distribution of this species in the State has been gathered by hummingbird banders.  First Texas record; 1 March 1976 in Houston, Harris County (fide Beavers 1977).

Habitat – Open oak woodlands, chaparral, riparian woodlands and residential areas.

Adult male Allen's Hummingbird in Fort Davis, 2 September 2007

Tail features of the above bird

Immature male Allen's Hummingbird in the Davis Mountains, 16 August 2006

Adult male Allen's Hummingbird banded in Fort Davis on 7 August 2009

Tail of the above bird

Immature male Allen's Hummingbird in the Christmas Mountains on Augsut 31, 2010

The same individual short after being banded, note the tail pattern diagnostic for the species.

Adult male Allen's Hummingbird in Alpine on September 2, 2010 (Carolyn Ohl-Johnson)

A second adult male in Alpine on September 2, 2010 showing a spread tail. Note the diagnostic pattern for the species. This individual is not molting as much as the above bird (Carolyn Ohl-Johnson).