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Broad-tailed Hummingbird

Scientific name: Selasphorus platycercus

Length: 4 inches (10 cm)

Identification: Medium in size for a hummingbird, the broad-tailed hummingbird has a long, bright green body and a broad, mostly dark tail. With a rose-red gorget (throat), a green crown, and white underparts, the male has a metallic green body, otherwise. Females have also the green crown, but their chin and throat are white with various amounts of dark streaking. The female tail feathers are dark, but have the signature female white tips on the outer tail feathers.

Habitat and range: Found throughout western America down to southern Mexico and into the highlands of Guatemala, a mountain meadow is a common setting for the broad-tailed hummingbird.

FYI: At 50 to 75 wing beats per second, the hummingbird actually makes a characteristic high-pitched humming sound with its wingtips. Source: "Broad-tailed Hummingbird," Book of North American Birds, (Pleasantville, New York: Reader's Digest Association, Inc., 1990), p. 197. Twenty-five times faster than a chicken, the hummingbird's metabolism burns energy at a phenomenal rate to keep its wings moving. Source: "Hummingbird," The International Wildlife Encyclopedia, 1969, Vol. 9, p. 1136. The broad-tailed is the hummingbird of the Rockies. The sound of the broad-tailed hummer's wings can generally be heard before it is seen. Cactus blossoms are the beginning of the feeding season for the broad-tailed hummingbird at the lower altitudes. Moving up to gooseberries at higher elevations as the snow melts, the hummer instinctively feeds on the next target of opportunity, until it will be found on the rocky slopes at the 12,000 feet (3,658 m) level. Source: "Hummingbird," The Audubon Nature Encyclopedia, 1965, Vol. 5, p. 898.

Outside links:

Pictures: click picture(s) for larger version, photo credits, and description.

Select a hummingbird by its name:
(in alphabetical order)

Allen's Hummingbird

Anna's Hummingbird

Black-chinned Hummingbird
Blue-throated Hummingbird


Booted Racket-tail Hummingbird


Broad-billed Hummingbird
Broad-tailed Hummingbird


Calliope Hummingbird


Costa's Hummingbird
Crimson Topaz Hummingbird


Long-tailed Hermit Hummingbird


Magnificent (Rivoli's) Hummingbird
Peruvian Sheartail Hummingbird   Plain-capped Starthroat Hummingbird   Red-billed Streamertail Hummingbird
Ruby-throated Hummingbird   Rufous Hummingbird   Sword-billed Hummingbird
Violet-crowned Hummingbird   White-eared Hummingbird   Xantus' Hummingbird

Select a hummingbird's nest by its name: (in alphabetical order)

Allen's Hummingbird (nest) & another

Anna's Hummingbird (nest) & another

Bearded Helmetcrest Hummingbird (nest)
Black-chinned Hummingbird (nest) & another & with mother


Broad-billed Hummingbird (eggs only)


Buff-bellied Hummingbird (nest)
Calliope Hummingbird (nest)


Costa's Hummingbird (nest) & another & with mother


Fork-tailed Emerald Hummingbird (nest)
Giant Hummingbird (nest)


Glittering-bellied Emerald Hummingbird (nest)


Golden-bellied Starfrontlet Hummingbird (nest)
Purple-throated Sunangel Hummingbird (nest)   Ruby-throated Hummingbird (nest)   Rufous Hummingbird (nest) & with parents
Sappho Comet Hummingbird (nest)   Xantus' Hummingbird (nest)  

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