Violet-Crowned Hummingbird

Leucolia violiceps

In the 1980s, scientists were studying hummingbird behaviors. They found as nectar became scarce, larger hummingbirds tended to chase away smaller species. This tactic enabled them to keep the sugary food to themselves. The large Violet-Crowned was near the top of the “humming order”. Smaller species were out-competed by the larger hummingbirds.

These are the only hummingbirds in the U.S. without a bright gorget or throat patch. They thrive at middle elevations in canyons with sycamore trees. They feed on nectar and small insects, often visiting hummingbird feeders. Some birds migrate south into Mexico for the winter, but others stay on their breeding grounds year-round.

These hummingbirds are resident throughout most of their range. But sometimes they will wander short distances to visit different habitats and follow seasonal bloom of trees and shrubs. In the United States and northern Mexico, they are considered migratory. But overwintering records in Arizona indicate increasing numbers remain in breeding areas. This species may be best viewed as a wanderer, expanding their range north.

Taxonomists recognise two subspecies of Violet-Crowned Hummingbird.

  • A. v.  ellioti occurs from southwestern USA, south to Michoachán and Hidalgo. Populations in the north may withdraw southward in winter.
  • A. v. violiceps is resident from southeastern Michoacán and central Guerrero, Morelos, and Puebla south to Oaxaca.

I have been visiting Arizona for almost 25 years, but I never met this species until 2023, as I was heading home from an 8700 mile tour of North America. I had heard of The Paton Center for Hummingbirds in Patagonia for many years, but I never took the opportunity to visit. I found it first on the outbound leg of my expedition. But it was on my second visit several months later that I received the gift of meeting this species. 

Range Map for Violet-Crowned Hummingbird
Range Map

5 Photos

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