One of the most colorful hummingbirds to appear in North America, the broad-billed hummingbird has only a limited range in the United States. Within that range, however, these birds are common and easily seen.
- Bill: Needle thin, broad base, red and black
- Size: 3.5 inches long with 5.5-inch wingspan, forked tail
- Colors: Green, blue, black, white, gray, red
- Markings: Dimorphic species. Males have an iridescent green body that is darker below. The blue throat may seem black depending on the light. The tail is blue-black and contrasts with white undertail coverts. Wings are dark and the bill is red at the base with a black tip. Females have iridescent green upperparts and grayish white underparts. The wings are gray and a gray patch is visible on the cheek contrasting with a thin white brow line behind the eye. The tail can show blue and has white tipped outer feathers. Females’ bills show less red than males’ bills.
Habitat and Migration:
Broad-billed hummingbirds prefer dry, arid habitat including scrub areas in canyons and foothills below 5,000 feet elevation. They can be found year-round in central and western Mexico, and their summer range extends further north into southeastern Arizona as well as southwestern New Mexico and Texas.
These hummingbirds have a very short, sharp “jee-dit” call as well as sharp chirps that may be followed by squeaking or rattling.
They are not very vocal birds, but the characteristic “wing hum” can be heard regularly in flight.
Broad-billed hummingbirds are solitary birds and can be strongly territorial. They will dive at intruding hummingbirds and other small birds, giving chase until their territory is clear. When feeding, they wag and spread their tails, showing off the tail color and central fork clearly.
Because of the southern range of these birds, they regularly produce 2 broods of 2 eggs each annually. The female parent will incubate the eggs for 13-14 days, and she will continue to care for the altricial young for an additional 15-20 days until they are mature enough to leave the nest. Male hummingbirds have no part in incubation or hatchling care.
Attracting Broad-Billed Hummingbirds:
Broad-billed hummingbirds are strongly attracted to the color red and will easily visit hummingbird feeders and flower gardens displaying that color. Birders who wish to attract these beautiful birds should plant flowers to attract hummingbirds and might consider adding a gazing ball or other red accents to the garden.
- White-Eared Hummingbird (Hylocharis leucotis)
- Xantus’s Hummingbird (Hylocharis xantusii)
- Violet-Crowned Hummingbird (Amazilia violiceps)
Photo – Broad-Billed Hummingbird – Male © Joan Gellatly
Photo – Broad-Billed Hummingbird – Female © Joan Gellatly