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
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.
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