The buff-bellied hummingbird is a small but remarkable bird known for its distinctive coloring to its remarkable flying skills. This Texas native has kept researchers guessing as many of its behaviors are still unknown.
Don’t let the ‘buff’ part of its name fool you. The buff-bellied hummingbird, like other hummingbird species, has flashy, metallic-looking feathers.
Let’s look at 12 fascinating facts about the buff-bellied hummingbird.
1. Everything’s Bigger In Texas, Including The Buff-Bellied Hummingbird
The buff-bellied hummingbird is one of the largest hummingbirds you will find in the United States. Although the males are slightly larger than the females, on average, the buff-bellied hummingbird is between four and five inches long.
The wingspan of the buff-bellied hummingbird measures about three inches. They are lightweights, though. The buff-bellied hummingbird only weighs between .10 and .17 ounces.
2. It Is The American Cousin
The buff-bellied hummingbird is the only member of its genus to live in the United States. All its cousins are native to Mexico, Honduras, Guatemala, and other parts of Central America.
It hasn’t strayed too far from the U.S.-Mexico border, though. The buff-bellied hummingbird makes its home in the southeastern region of the United States.
It is found mostly in Texas, but has also been sighted in Florida, Alabama, and Louisiana.
3. It Looks Like It’s Wearing A Full Metal Jacket
The back, wings, and head of the buff-bellied hummingbird are covered with deep green feathers. The feathers are so iridescent that they appear metallic when the sun hits them.
As the name suggests, the underbelly and throat of the bird are a light buff color. You can identify a male buff-bellied hummingbird because its coloring will be brighter than a female’s.
Males also have a distinctive white mark on their necks that females don’t have.
4. They Might Live In Your Garden
Although buff-bellied hummingbirds can make their homes in grasslands and wooded areas, they have adapted quite well to urban and suburban settings. They are often spotted in city parks, citrus groves, or residential gardens.
They like areas with plenty of foliage and plant variety. The suburban homes with extensive landscaping and gardens are especially attractive to the buff-bellied hummingbird.
5. The Buff-Bellied Hummingbird Has A Hearty Appetite
The buff-bellied hummingbird has a voracious appetite. They can consume up to half their body weight in food each day.
The buff-bellied hummingbird feeds on a variety of nectar, including flowers, fruits, and tree sap.
Attracted to the color red, the buff-bellied hummingbirds will seek out red tubular flowers, including red salvia, trumpet vine, and Turk’s cap. They also feed on small insects, such as mosquitoes and aphids, which they catch in mid-air.
6. Buff-Bellied Hummingbirds Like A Free Meal
With a big appetite to satisfy each day, the buff-bellied hummingbird isn’t above taking hand-outs. In fact, it loves a free meal.
In residential areas, buff-bellied hummingbirds are frequent visitors to hummingbird feeders. They use their long tongues to lap up the sugar water mixture homeowners fill their feeders with.
7. The Buff-Bellied Hummingbird Has A Curved Bill
The bill of the buff-bellied hummingbird is long, slender, and curved. The bird also boasts an impressively long tongue that is well-adapted to lapping up nectar from deep within flowers.
When it eats, the buff-bellied hummingbird will hover over a flower, extend its bill into the center of the blossom, and allow its long tongue to reach all the nectar.
With its well-suited tongue, the buff-bellied hummingbird can lap up nectar at a rate of up to 13 times per second.
8. The Buff-Bellied Hummingbird Has A Well-Studied Song
Biologists have done extensive studies of the buff-bellied hummingbird’s vocalizations. They have discovered that during mating season, the birds will make a “tzi-wee” call. When they feed, the birds make a “tik” sound.
The buff-bellied hummingbirds make a repetitive cry when they are chasing other hummingbirds out of their territory. This call sounds like “see-see-see-suu-suu-see-see”.
9. Buff-Bellied Hummingbirds Are Migratory
Even though they live in hot Texas, the buff-bellied hummingbird is still migratory. It travels south for the winter.
During the winter, they migrate to Central America and northern South America.
10. Female Buff-Bellied Hummingbirds Build Cup-Like Nests
The buff-bellied hummingbird typically builds their nests in the forks of branches in shrubs, bushes, or small trees. The nests are often found between three and ten feet above the ground.
They are difficult to spot, however, as the female buff-bellied hummingbird camouflages them with moss and other plant material.
Buff-bellied hummingbird nests are designed like tiny cups. They are constructed from plant fibers and spider webs and lined with downy feathers. Only the females build the nest.
11. Female Buff-Bellied Hummingbirds Handle Most Of The Parenting
The male buff-bellied hummingbird does not help with the nesting but does provide food for the female and chicks. The female lays two eggs, which hatch after about two weeks of incubation.
Once the chicks have grown and fledged, the female and male will separate, and the male will move on to another nesting area.
12. Mother Buff-Bellied Hummingbirds Use Their Long Bills Like Feeding Tubes
The long bills of the buff-bellied hummingbirds have another purpose. The females use it to feed their hatchlings.
She inserts her bill deep into the throats of her offspring and feeds them a regurgitated mix of nectar and insects.