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Broad-tailed Hummingbird

Selasphorus platycercus

Length: 4.25 inches Wingspan: 5 inches Seasonality: Rare Visitor
ID Keys: Rosy throat (male), green back and sides, light underparts, female with rufous on sides.

Broad-tailed Hummingbird - Selasphorus platycercusDespite often inhabiting high open mountain meadows, the Broad-tailed Hummingbird is often heard without being seen, as its wings make an odd metallic trilling when in flight.  Highly territorial, they will fiercely defend select patches of wildflowers, with the most common opponent being each other.  

Habitat: Primarily found in mountain clearings and forests, up to elevations of 10,000 feet or more.  Migrants can be found in a variety of semi-open habitats, both in the mountains and in the lowlands.

Diet: Feeds primarily on nectar. Also will feed on tiny insects, and will drink sap from holes created by sapsuckers.

Behavior: Aggressive with others of the same species, but sometimes dominated by other hummingbird species.  Typical hummingbird feeding behavior.

Breeding: South Dakota Birds and Birding (SDOU 2001) reports one nest with young was reported in 1874 in the Black Hills, but no recent breeding has been identified. 

Song: A musical chip and repeated chattering. 

Migration: Summers throughout much of the inland West of the United States and Mexico, mostly at high elevations.  Primarily winters in Mexico. 

Interactive eBird Map: Click to access an interactive eBird map of Broad-tailed Hummingbird sightings

Similar Species: Calliope Hummingbird

Feeders: Will attend feeders for sugar water.

Conservation Status: Generally stable throughout it's normal range.

Further Information: 1) USGS Patuxent Bird Identification InfoCenter, Broad-tailed Hummingbird

2) Cornell University's "All About Birds - Broad-tailed Hummingbird"

3) Broad-tailed Hummingbird

Photo Information: April 19th, 2014 - Mount Lemmon, near Tucson, Arizona - Terry Sohl

Additional Photos: Click on the image chips or links below for additional, higher-resolution photos of Broad-tailed Hummingbirds.


Click on the map below for a higher-resolution view
Broad-tailed Hummingbird - Selasphorus platycercus - Range map
South Dakota Status: Historically, the species was considered relatively common in the Black Hills, but they are only rare visitors in recent decades.  Given the close proximity of breeding populations in Wyoming, it is possible there are more Broad-tailed Hummingbirds in the southwestern part of the state than are being reported.

Additional Broad-tailed Hummingbird Photos
Click for a higher-resolution version of these photos
 Broad-tailed Hummingbird - Selasphorus platycercusBroad-tailed Hummingbird - Selasphorus platycercusBroad-tailed Hummingbird - Selasphorus platycercusBroad-tailed Hummingbird - Selasphorus platycercusBroad-tailed Hummingbird - Selasphorus platycercus