The broad-billed hummingbird is an exceptionally beautiful member of the hummingbird family. The male has an emerald body, a sapphire throat, and a striking red bill.
While this bird is populous in Mexico, it visits the southwestern United States in flowerful ravines and backyard gardens.
This article provides an introduction to the broad-billed hummingbird with interesting facts and stunning photos.
Scientific name: Cynanthus latirostris
Length: 3.5 – 3.9 inches
Wingspan: 4.7 inches
Weight: 0.11 – 0.14 ounces
Male broad-billed hummingbirds are known for their colorful, iridescent feathers and vividly bright red bill.
Females are duller and unremarkable in their coloration in comparison. The male weighs a little more than the female.
The male broad-billed hummingbird has iridescent plumage that appears purple, blue, and green in the light. Green is typically on the back and crown.
They have a blue throat with a blue-green-purple underside. There are white feathers where the belly meets the notched tail.
Their bills are red with a black tip.
Female (and immature) broad-billed hummingbirds are considerably less colorful. They have green backs with dull, dingy white underbellies and throats.
They have a white stripe that curves downward behind the eye.
The bill is black.
Immature males have a white eye stripe and duller plumage like females.
As they age, they will show patchy spots of iridescent feathers growing in. The bill will be primarily black with some red at the base.
In flight, these hummingbirds’ wings make a loud cricket-like, metallic sound. Both females and males will chitter and chirp as they forage, warn intruders, or compete over food sources.
They not only use flight for courtship but for warning any other male hummingbirds to stay away from their territory. Males perch high to look over the territory.
They are attracted to the sound of diurnal owls. Owls are predators of hummingbirds so they will mob them by diving at their heads to scare them off.
After courtship and mating, males have no further involvement in the breeding cycle. Females build the nest, incubate the eggs, and raise the young, which become independent after fledging.
A large portion of the broad-billed hummingbird population lives year-round in Mexico. Short-distance migrants, however, come to the United States for the breeding season.
In Mexico, they are found in a variety of places such as canyons or tropical deciduous forests.
In the United States, broad-billed hummingbirds are in the southwestern area of New Mexico and the southeastern section of Arizona. They tend to live in areas with cottonwoods, sycamores, and mesquites.
Broad-billed hummingbirds consume nectar from flowers and feeders and also eat insects. They catch insects mid-air or glean them from foliage and spider webs.
They can be protective of nectar sources, defending them from other hummingbirds.
Broad-billed hummingbirds also practice a feeding behavior called “trap-lining”. This is when the hummingbird visits separated foraging areas in a regular and repetitive sequence.
This allows the hummingbird to find reliable sources of food throughout the season.
They hover and drink from the blooms of plants such as mescal agave, desert honeysuckle, cactus, New Mexico thistle, and morning glory. They eat bugs such as plant lice, dance flies, ants, and spiders.
The habitat of the broad-billed hummingbird is within their somewhat limited range.
This includes open areas near streamside groves of cottonwood or sycamore trees, dense mesquite areas, and open oak woodlands (foothills).
They breed below elevations of 6,500 feet typically around 3,000 to 5,000 feet. Foraging however occurs up to an elevation of 9,800 feet.
In Mexico, the habitat of the broad-billed hummingbird is in lowland thorn forests, tropical decision forests, and mountain canyons.
To court the female, the male broad-billed hummingbird calls from his high perch.
He then performs a flight display by hovering about 1 foot in front of her and arcing side to side like a pendulum. He may also fly vertically higher and then chase the female.
After mating, the male is no longer involved and the female builds the nest, incubates the eggs, and feeds the hatchlings.
She builds a nest 3 to 9 feet up from the ground on a downward-positioned branch of a deciduous shrub or tree. Often nests are built near a stream or rocky outcrop formations.
The cup-shaped nest looks much like clumped vegetation, made of bark, grasses, leaves, and plant downs, and wrapped with spider webs.
The exterior is camouflaged with native plant material such as leaves and bark. The finished nest is about 1 inch tall and ¾-inches wide.
After the nesting season is over, broad-billed hummingbirds often travel to higher elevations to feed on ample supplies of nectar.
They migrate southward towards Mexico, but some may remain permanent residents in the United States close to the Mexican border.
The broad-billed hummingbird is of low conservation concern. They have an estimated population of 200,0000 in the U.S.
Here’s a close-up video of a male and female broad-billed hummingbird in Arizona:
How To Attract The Broad-Billed Hummingbird
If you live in the limited range of the broad-billed hummingbird, they will visit nectar feeders. Hummingbird feeders should have a ratio of 1 part white sugar to 4 parts water.
You can also plant native plants that broad-billed hummingbirds prefer. These include trumpet honeysuckle, bird-of-paradise, Indian paintbrush, ocotillo, morning glory, Texas betony, and superb penstemon.
Broad-Billed Hummingbird Facts
- They consume 1.6 to 1.7 times their body weight of nectar daily.
- The broad-billed hummingbird overlap ranges with Rivioli’s hummingbirds and white-eared hummingbirds.
- This hummingbird does not use lichen to camouflage nests, which is unlike other hummingbird species.