News and Opinion from Sisters, Oregon

Sisters Country birds

As the smallest bird in North America, and the smallest long distance migrating bird in the world, the Calliope Hummingbird's [Selasphorus calliope] migration of 5,000 miles from southern Mexico to western mountainous regions is prodigious and inspiring.

When heading north the Calliope flies along the Pacific coast and returns south along the Rocky Mountains for a round trip total of 10,000 miles. This tiny hummer weighs in at 0.1 ounce which is similar to a ping-pong ball. Named after the Greek muse Calliope and Stellula which means little star.

The Calliope female builds the nest at altitudes of 4,000 to 11,000 feet in conifers and incubates the two to three white eggs for 15 to 16 days, and feeds the chicks for another 20 days before they leave the nest. Insects and flower nectar feed the Calliope's energy needs as they maintain wing beat speeds of 50-200 beats per second and a heart rate that can reach 1,280 beats per minute. The males perform mating dives reaching 100 feet as they try to impress the females.

A group of hummingbirds are known as "tune," a "hover," "glittering," or a "bouquet." To view more images of the Calliope Hummer, visit


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