Costa’s Hummingbird (Calypte costae) is a desert hummingbird that arrives in winter just in time for winter rains to stimulate growth of flowers—it departs in summer when the flowers die for the year. It is also a chaparral hummingbird, arriving in time for the spring bloom. In the first two or three years after a fire in the chaparral, flowers that attract Costa’s Hummingbirds may cover the hillsides and the hummingbird may become one of the most numerous birds. Rather than finding a home that can support the birds over many years, the Costa’s Hummingbird’s strategy is to take advantage of food that is abundant for a short time only, then move on in search of new opportunities.
Did you know? Like many hummingbirds, the Costa’s Hummingbird can enter a torpid state where it reduces its body temperature and lowers its heart rate to 50 beats per minute (normally 500-900 beats per minute) during low nighttime temperatures.
To learn more about the Costa’s Hummingbird, visit the San Diego County Bird Atlas online. You can also check out the book from your local library.
PHOTO CREDIT: Patricia Ware