Hummingbird Nectar

Broad-Billed Hummingbird

( Cynanihus latirostris )

The Broad-billed Hummingbird is a Mexican species that can be found in western Texas, southwestern New Mexico and southern Arizona. In Arizona, it is a common summer resident in rocky canyons in desert-like mountain habitats, where streams or springs supply sycamore or mesquite growths from the Guadalupe Mountains, west along the border to the Baboquivaris, then north to at least the Santa Catalinas. Its genus name, Cynan thus, is derived from the Greek kyanos, blue, and anthos, bright, in reference to the male’s brilliant blue throat feathers. Its species name, latirostris, is from the Latin latus, wide, and rostrum, beak, or as we say in the vernacular, broad- billed.

This small, 3-1/2 to 4 inch long hummingbird can be distinguished from all other North American hummingbirds by its red, black tipped bill. The male is metallic bronze-green above, with a glossy blue-black or dark steel blue tail, and dark underparts. He does have a small white patch behind its eye which can cause some confusion with the rarer White-eared Hummingbird. But the White-eared has a much longer and broader white stripe behind each eye. The Broad-billed really has only a spot. The female Broad-billed resembles the male, but has pearl-gray underparts. Both male and female utter calls exactly like the chatter of Ruby-crowned Kinglets. The male produces a high pitched humming during aerial displays.

Photo by Doris Evans

The Broad-billed Hummingbird migrates through Tucson, and sometimes stays around town, where it has been known to visit backyard feeders. It has been seen feeding on the flowers of ocotillos, agaves, penstemons, paintbrushes, and other flowers. Insects are an important component of its diet. It feeds on aphids, leathoppers, root gnats, flower flies, spiders, daddy-longlegs, and miscellaneous bees, wasps, ants, and bugs. Females have been seen chasing large butterflies away from food sources, but they ignore smaller ones.

Nesting occurs over a wide span of time in Sonora and Sinaloa, from January to August. Birds in breeding condition have been found in Queretaro as late as November and December. Egg records exist for Arizona between April and July. In southern Texas, they occur from May to August.

In 1951, an ornithologist, Brandt, described three nests he found in Sabino Canyon.

One was placed out on a small willow twig about three (3) feet above the ground, close to the channel of the stream. The second nest was an old one on a dead willow branch also only about three (3) feet above the water. Not far away from the old nest, the third nest was built a little higher on a drooping sycamore limb above a dry stream bed. All three were situated in such a way that they imitated the compact little balls of leaves and vegetation formed during floods, and they were composed of this vegetational debris so that they were very inconspicuous. Nests have also been found in hackberry bushes, mesquites, and apricot trees. The nests are lined with white plant down and bits of leaves. They can be variably decorated with white cotton thread or the flowers of plants, but only rarely have lichens been known to have been used. Most of the nests contain two white, elliptical eggs.


Broad-Billed Hummingbird Range

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InfoNatura: Animals and Ecosystems of Latin America [web application]. 2007. Version 5.0 . Arlington, Virginia (USA): NatureServe. Available: http://www.natureserve.org/infonatura. (Accessed: February 12, 2013 ).

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