Lucifer Hummingbirds are also sometimes called Lucifer "Sheartails", a
moniker given to a group of similar hummingbirds with deeply forked tails.
They are birds of dry areas of Mexico, only reaching the U.S. in a few
select places. Most notably, the Big Bend area of Texas has become
known as a reliable location to find Lucifer Hummingbirds, and they also can
often be found in a few select areas of southern Arizona. The name of the
bird likely derives from the Latin meaning of "Lucifer", which is
interpreted as "light-bearing" and likely refers to the iridescent gorget of
Habitat: Lucifer Hummingbirds are well adapted to
desert life, preferring dry slopes with scattered desert vegetation and
shrubs. They can also be found in less arid environments, including
grasslands and open woodlands, especially in the southern part of their
Diet: Typical diet of hummingbirds, primarily
nectar, but insects also comprise a portion of the diet. Young are
especially fed many insects while still dependent on the female.
Behavior: Aggressive as are many hummingbird
species. Males will actively defend flower patches from other
hummingbirds or other intruders. Females will actively defend nest
site areas from all intruders. .
Nesting: Nests are typically built on rugged rocky
slopes, cholla cactus, ocotillo, or sometimes other dry habitat vegetation.
The nest is made of a mix of plant material (plant down, plant fibers,
leaves, or tiny stems), integrated with spider webs, and with the outside
decorated with lichen or bits of bark. Females build the nest,
incubate the eggs, and raise the young without help from the male.
Song: The "song" of a male Lucifer Hummingbird is
a rattling flutter heard during the male's diving display flight.
Migration: Birds in the southern part of their
range are probably permanent residents. However, birds that sumnmer in
the U.S., as well as those in much of northern Mexico, migrate south to
central Mexico in the winter.
Feeders: Will attend hummingbird feeders
Male may appear similar to Costa's
Hummingbird, with similar purple gorget. But strongly decurved
bill on the Lucifer Hummingbird, as well as other features, make it
generally easy to identify in the field.
Conservation Status: No current conservation
concerns, populations seem stable, and may even be expanding in the limited
U.S. portion of their range.
Image Information: Color pencil drawing of Lucifer
Hummingbird by myself (Terry Sohl)
Additional Photos: Additional Photos Coming Soon!!