Rufous Hummingbird Selasphorus rufus


Justification of Red List category
This species is precautionarily considered to be undergoing a moderately rapid decline, even though the threats to the species have been difficult to ascertain. Therefore, it has been listed as Near Threatened.

Population justification
Partners in Flight (2019) estimate the population of mature individuals to total ~22,000,000.

Trend justification

Partners in Flight (2019) currently estimate a ~2.1% decline in mature individuals each year, which equates to a ~19% reduction over a ten year period. Rates of decline are estimated to have decreased since 2006 and similar rates of decline are supported by Sauer et al. (2017). Although the North American Breeding Bird Survey estimated annual declines to be ~1.45% between 2010-2015, which corresponds to a ~14% across the stipulated ten year period, they conclude that estimates population reductions may reach up to ~32% in a worst-case scenario (Sauer et al. 2017). The rate of population decline is therefore tentatively placed in the band 10-29% over three generations.

Distribution and population

Selasphorus rufus is a migratory hummingbird that breeds in western North America from south-eastern Alaska (U.S.A.) through western Canada and into north-west U.S.A.. In the non-breeding season it migrates to southern California, the Gulf Coast of U.S.A. and across much of Mexico.


During the breeding season this species occurs in a broad range of habitats from secondary succession vegetation and mature forest to parks and residential areas (Healy and Calder 2006). In the non-breeding season it occurs in a variety of habitats, including scrubland, arid thorn forest and mixed pine-oak-juniper forest (Healy and Calder 2006, Powers et al. 2018). It feeds on nectar from several different plant species, as well as on arthropod prey (Powers et al. 2018), and breeding may be timed to coincide with the flowering of food plants (Powers et al. 2018) (recorded from end of March to mid July; Healy and Calder 2006).


In some cases human activity may actually benefit this species. Forest degradation may increase the availability of certain food flowers (see Healy and Calder 2006), and food availability can be artificially increased by the presence of feeders, which can also help increase abundance (Healy and Calder 2006, Powers et al. 2018). However, while the species may tolerate some forest degradation, habitat destruction could impact the species (Rosenberg et al. 2016, Powers et al. 2018); forest loss is currently estimated at ~5% across the stipulated ten year period throughout this species's range (Tracewski et al. 2016). As this species is typically found in cooler climates, climate change is likely to be a potential threat (Rosenberg et al. 2016). However, the full reasons behind the continued declines are not fully understood.

Conservation actions

Conservation Actions Underway
No direct actions are known, but it is placed on the Yellow Watch List by Partners in Flight (Rosenberg et al. 2016).

Conservation Actions Proposed
Conduct targeted research to get better ideas of the population size and trends and the threats to this species. There are also a range of potential ecological questions that may require further research such as more accurately assessing the diet and population dynamics of the species, further investigating the breeding biology of the species, and investigating its ability to colonise new potential habitats (see Healy and Calder 2006).


Text account compilers
Everest, J.

Butchart, S., Ekstrom, J., Meehan, T. & Westrip, J.R.S.

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2024) Species factsheet: Selasphorus rufus. Downloaded from https://datazone.birdlife.org/species/factsheet/rufous-hummingbird-selasphorus-rufus on 24/02/2024.
Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2024) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from https://datazone.birdlife.org on 24/02/2024.