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BROAD-TAILED HUMMINGBIRD

THE BROAD-TAILED HUMMINGBIRD SOUNDS LIKE A MISSILE WHEN IT ARRIVES

BROAD-TAILED HUMMINGBIRD

Overview

The Broad-tailed Hummingbird, scientifically known as Selasphorus platycercus, is a small, vibrant bird species commonly found in the Mule Mountains near Bisbee, Arizona. This region, characterized by its diverse flora and distinct mountainous terrain, provides an ideal habitat for these birds.

Physical Description

Size and Shape

The Broad-tailed Hummingbird is a medium-sized hummingbird, measuring about 3.5 to 4 inches in length. They possess a slender, streamlined body typical of hummingbirds, with relatively small feet and a long, straight, and slender bill ideal for nectar feeding.

Coloration

Males of this species exhibit a striking iridescent green back and crown, with a brilliant red throat (gorget). The underparts are predominantly white with greenish flanks. Females, on the other hand, lack the bright throat patch and are more subdued in color, with a green back and speckled throat.

Tail

True to their name, the Broad-tailed Hummingbird has a notably broad tail, especially in males. The tail feathers are tipped in white, which are more prominent during flight.

Habitat and Distribution

Mule Mountains Environment

In the Mule Mountains of Bisbee, Arizona, the Broad-tailed Hummingbird thrives in mixed habitats ranging from mountainous woodlands to meadows and gardens. They are particularly attracted to areas with abundant flower growth.

Migration and Range

These hummingbirds are migratory, spending winters in Mexico and Central America. During the breeding season, which includes the spring and summer months, they migrate north to mountainous regions in the western United States, including Arizona.

Behavior and Diet

Feeding Habits

Broad-tailed Hummingbirds feed primarily on nectar from flowers, utilizing their long bills and rapid wing beats to hover and feed. They also consume small insects and spiders for protein.

Flight and Vocalization

Their flight is swift and agile, often accompanied by a distinctive wing-trill sound produced by males. Their vocalizations include a series of high-pitched chips and buzzes, used for communication and during courtship displays.

Breeding and Nesting

Nesting Sites

Females are solely responsible for nest building, typically choosing sheltered locations on branches of trees or shrubs. The nest is a compact cup made of plant fibers and spider webs, camouflaged with bits of bark and lichen.

Eggs and Incubation

The female lays 1 to 3 tiny, white eggs, which she incubates for about 15 to 19 days. The hatchlings are altricial, meaning they are born blind and featherless, requiring significant parental care.

Conservation Status

While the Broad-tailed Hummingbird is not currently listed as threatened or endangered, it faces challenges due to habitat loss and climate change. Conservation efforts focus on preserving natural habitats and promoting environmentally friendly practices.

In conclusion, the Broad-tailed Hummingbird in Bisbee's Mule Mountains represents a beautiful and integral part of the region's biodiversity. Their presence adds to the ecological richness and aesthetic appeal of this unique Arizonian landscape.

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