The Magnificent Hummingbird is a big, beautiful hummingbird.
At least, the Magnificent Hummingbird is big compared to most of the other hummingbirds found in the United States. The Magnificent is 4.5 to 5.25 inches. Most hummingbird species in the US are between 3 and 4 inches long.
It has the bright colors of a tropical hummingbird, but you can see the Magnificent Hummingbird in some canyons in the southwestern United States. The birds come in from Mexico. We were amazed the first time we saw one at Ramsey Canyon Preserve. And when this large and loud hummingbird shows up at a feeder, you know it.
Same bird, different look
This is a hummingbird that likes the shade. It is not always easy to see the bright blue green on its gorget (throat) and the purple colors on its forehead. Many times, the Magnificent Hummingbird looks like a dark silhouette on its perch.
Side view of a male Magnificent Hummingbird
In the photo above, the male Magnificent’s gorget and head have not caught the light. Its head and gorget appear very dark. From the distance, no color is visible.
Male Magnificent Hummingbird colors
Here he has turned his head and the sunlight hit him just right. You’ll notice that this picture does not show his bright purple forehead – it depends on your angle of view. And on luck. This photo and the one above it were taken seconds apart.
Female Magnificent Hummingbird
The female is not as colorful or as dark. The females seem to be more shy than the males.
A Big but Shy Hummingbird
The Magnificent Hummingbird is surprisingly big hummingbird for the U.S. It stands out when you see it.
- Magnificent Hummingbird: 4.5 to 5.25 inches long
- Ruby-throated Hummingbird: 3.25 to 3.75 inches long
- Anna’s Hummingbird: 3.5 to 4 inches long*
The Magnificent’s wing humming sounds loud and low compared to the smaller hummingbirds.
The Magnificent is somewhat shy and perches back in the trees at feeding stations. But it can be assertive with smaller hummingbirds at feeders. Males will often chase each other, vocalizing as they fly about the feeding station and brush.
See a Magnificent Hummingbird
Here are the places we have seen one or more Magnificent Hummingbirds during spring and summer. Bring your binoculars since the Magnificents can be skittish, and you’ll want to look at them perching in nearby trees.
Each of the sites currently allows day visitors for a small cash donation. Make sure you check their hours. Some stay open late, some do not.
- Miller Canyon – Beatty’s Guest Ranch at the CAS
- Cave Creek – Southwestern Research Station
- Nature Conservancy Ramsey Canyon Preserve
- Ash Canyon B&B
- Cave Creek Ranch
This list is not comprehensive. There are other locations that allow day access, including other Bed and Breakfast places. Check the Arizona birding listserv and other birding sites. Ask around once you are in the area.
Photos were taken in 2014 at Miller Canyon near Sierra Vista, Arizona and at feeding stations on Cave Creek, near Portal, Arizona.
*Source: A Field Guide to the Hummingbirds of North America by Sheri Williamson