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Broad-tailed Hummingbird

Silhouette HummingbirdsHummingbirds
Broad-tailed HummingbirdSelasphorus platycercus
  • ORDER: Caprimulgiformes
  • FAMILY: Trochilidae

Basic Description

A jewel of high mountain meadows, male Broad-tailed Hummingbirds fill the summer air with loud, metallic trills as they fly. They breed at elevations up to 10,500 feet, where nighttime temperatures regularly plunge below freezing. To make it through a cold night, they slow their heart rate and drop their body temperature, entering a state of torpor. As soon as the sun comes up, displaying males show off their rose-magenta throats while performing spectacular dives. After attracting a mate, females raise the young on their own.

More ID Info
image of range map for Broad-tailed Hummingbird
Range map provided by Birds of the World
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Find This Bird

Look out for Broad-tailed Hummingbirds at feeders. Listen for the male's loud wing trills as he guards territory around a choice feeder spot.

Broad-tailed Hummingbirds spend only a few short months in the United States so you'll need to get to a meadow sometime from late May to early August to catch them. In these areas, stop along forest openings and meadows that are filled with flowers and listen for the loud metallic trill of their wings. Hummingbirds frequently return to one or two favorite perches, so a great way to get good looks is to follow one with your eyes (not binoculars) until it lands on its perch. Visiting a hummingbird feeder in the mountains is also a good way to get good looks at Broad-tailed Hummingbirds.

Other Names

  • Colibrí Coliancho (Spanish)
  • Colibri à queue large (French)

Backyard Tips

If you live within the range of the Broad-tailed Hummingbird, putting up a sugar water feeder may give you an opportunity to watch one in your yard. Use a ratio of one part table sugar dissolved in four parts water, and don’t use food coloring. Learn more about feeding hummingbirds.

Adding native flowers to your yard is another way to attract hummingbirds while also adding beauty to your yard.

  • Cool Facts