California Hummingbirds–Lampornis clemenciae (Blue-throated Hummingbird)

4.  Lampornis clemenciae (Blue-throated Hummingbird)

The Blue-throated Hummingbird is a large hummingbird, almost the size of some sparrows, with its length at 4.5-5.5 inches, and an 8 inch wing span.  Both sexes have a long, thin bill, a prominent white stripe behind the eye,  a black stripe passing through the eye, a white cheek streak, bronze-green backs, gray belly and breast, and a long, broad, black rounded tail (occasionally washed with blue-black) with broad white tips on the outer two feathers.  Exhibits direct and hovering flight with very rapid wing beats.  When approaching other hummers at flowers or feeders, they aggressively flash their striking black and white tail feathers.  Vocalizations are unusually complex for both sexes (sharp “seeep!” which is repeated with frequency). 

Male Description 

Males have a bronze green back and crown with a gray underside, bronze-brown rump, and gorget that shimmers metallic blue (appears black in poor light). 

Female Description 

Females have a bronze green back and crown, with a gray throat, bronze-brown rump, and gray underside. 

Immature Description 

Resembles adult female with buffy edging on most feathers, particularly the crown and rump. 

Range 

The Blue-throated Hummingbird is found in Mexico, southeastern Arizona (a few are year-round residents), New Mexico, western Texas, and on rare occasion California.  Winters in Mexico.  It breeds in southwestern mountains, and may nest as late as October.  Males are frequently found at higher elevations. 

Nesting 

Typically nests from April-July.  Nests frequently in wooded canyons, and usually near streams.  Nests anywhere where overhead shelter is available (under rock ledges, eaves, bridges, water towers, beneath tree branches, and inside buildings).  The nests are composed of plant fibers, cotton materials, mosses, and weed stems bound with spiderweb. Uniquely, the outer covering consists of green moss.  The nest is larger than most North American hummingbird nests.  It is 3 inches high and 2.5 inches wide.  Female incubates two white eggs.  Three broods may be raised in one season; and it may last as late as October.  Females return to the same nesting sites each year and frequently will build new nests on top of old ones.  Males fan their tails during courtship, displaying the white tips on the tail.  Males utter complex squeaky songs during the breeding season. 

Favorite Plants 

The Blue-throated hummingbird feeds on insects and nectar.  Readily attracted to flower gardens and sugar-water feeders.  Commonly visits Agave (century plant), Aquilegia (columbine), Epilobium (California fuchsia), Gilia, Lobelia, Lonicera  (honeysuckle), Lupinus, Menthas (mints), Nicotiana glauca (tree tobacco), Penstemon, Salvia splendens (scarlet sage), Salvias.

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This entry was posted in Attracting Hummingbirds, Hummingbird Flowers, Hummingbirds, Identifying Hummingbirds and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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