The broad-tailed hummingbird is a fairly early spring migrant, but is always welcome in its western breeding range.
- Bill: Long, straight, black
- Size: 4 inches long with 5-inch wingspan, long tail
- Colors: Green, white, gray, buff, red, iridescent, rufous
- Markings: Dimorphic species. Males have iridescent green upperparts, a white chin and an iridescent red gorget with a thin white line separating the gorget from the upperparts. The chest is white and the underparts are gray with green flanks. Wings are black. Females have green upperparts and white underparts with buff or rufous flanks, and the white throat shows iridescent flecks. Tips of the female's outer tail feathers are white. Both genders have rufous edging on the tail.
Habitat and Migration:
These neotropical migrants prefer relatively high elevations of open pine or pine and oak forests and mountain meadows. While they are found year-round in central Mexico and as far south as Guatemala, their summer breeding range extends to mountain forests and alpine meadows as far north as Idaho and Wyoming. In winter, some broad-tailed hummingbirds will stay near the Gulf of Mexico.
The most familiar sound from the broad-tailed hummingbird is not vocal, but its distinctive metallic zinging wing trill, though this buzzing is not usually heard when the bird is hovering. These hummingbirds do not sing, but they do have a series of high-pitched chips, chitters and chits for different calls.
These solitary hummingbirds can be aggressive when defending their territory and preferred feeding areas. They typically feed in low- to mid-level vegetation, gleaning insects from foliage and sipping at appropriate flowers. In terms of posture, broad-tailed hummingbirds usually hold their tails closed while hovering. At night, these birds often enter torpor to conserve energy.
Broad-tailed hummingbirds are polygamous and promiscuous. Courtship display flights in wide U-shapes are common, but no long term bonds are formed. The female parent will construct the nest and will incubate the eggs for 14-16 days. After hatching, she will continue to feed and care for the altricial hatchlings for a further 21-26 days. Each brood contains 2 eggs, and 1-2 broods are laid per year.