The Bird Book/Hummingbirds

The Bird Book by Chester A. Reed
Hummingbirds: Family Trochilidae



Hummingbirds have been truly called "Winged Gems." They are the smallest of birds, the usual plumage being a metallic green with throat or crown patches of the brightest of iridescent shining red, orange, blue or violet. Their nests are marvels of architecture being compactly and intricately made of plant fibres and downy feathers ornamented in some cases with lichens. Their flight is accompanied by a peculiar buzzing sound produced by their rapidly vibrating stiffened wing feathers. Their food is small insects and honey both of which they get chiefly from flowers.

426. RIVOLI'S HUMMINGBIRD. Eugenes fulgens.

Range. Mexico, north in summer to southern Arizona where they breed at high elevations in the Huachuca Mountains.

This is one of the most gorgeous of the Hummers having the crown a violet purple color, and the throat brilliant green. This species saddles its nest upon branches often at heights of 20 or 30 feet from the ground. They are made of plant down and generally decorated with lichens on the outside, similar to nests of the Ruby-throat. The two white eggs measure .65 x .40.

427- BLUE-THROATED HUMMINGBIRD. Cyanolcemus clemencies.

Range. Mexico, north in summer to the border of Arizona and western New Mexico.

This species is the largest of North American Hummers being 5.25 inches long, this being slightly larger than the preceding. As the name implies, it has a patch of blue on the throat, the upper parts being a uniform greenish; the outer tail feathers are broadly tipped with white. Their nests, which are placed upon the limbs of trees, are made of mosses and plant fibres covered with cobwebs. The two eggs are laid during July and August, and measure .65 x .40. 4 7429


428. RUBY-THROATED HUMMINGBIRD. Archilochus colubris.

Range North America east of the Plains and north to Labrador.

This is the only representative of the family found east of the Mississippi. It is a small species, 3.5 inches long, with greenish upper parts and a bright ruby throat. Its nest is as beautiful, if not more so, than that of any other species. They build their nests on horizontal limbs of trees at any height from the ground, but usually more than six feet. Branches an inch or more in diameter are usually selected, they not being particular as to the kind of tree, but oaks, pines and maples perhaps being used the most often. The nests are made of plant fibres and down, and the exterior is completely covered with green lichens so that it appears like a small bunch of moss on the limb. The two white eggs are laid in May or June; size .50 x.35.


Ruby-throated Hummingbird

429- BLACK-CHINNED HUMMINGBIRD. Archilochus alexandri.

Range. North America west of the Rocky Mountains; north to British Colum

bia; winters south of the United States.

Similar in size and appearance to the Ruby-throat, but with the chin and

upper throat black, the rest of the throat gorget being violet or amethyst. It is an abundant species in summer in many localities, especially in the south'ern half of its range. They build their nests a! low elewtions, rarely above ten feet, on small branches or the .fork at the end of a limit* T^he nests are made of yellowislr plant fibres and 'are 'not covered with lichens, so that they have a peculiar spongy appearance. Eggs indistinguishable from those of the Ruby-throat. Laid during April, May or June.





Calypte costce.

Range. Southwestern United States; north to southern Utah; winters south of our border.

Smaller than the last and with both the crown and the throat gorget, violet or amethyst, the feathers on the sides of the latter being lengthened. Their nests are situated in the forks of branches generally near the ground, and seldom above six feet from it. They are made of plant down with shreds of weeds, bark and lichens worked into the outside portions, and are often lined with soft feathers. The two eggs average .48 x .32. Data. Arroyo Seco, California, June 10, 1900. Nest in an alder bush. Collector, Charles E. Groesbeck.

431. ANNA'S HUMMINGBIRD. Calypte anna

Range. Pacific coast of the United States from northern California, southward, wintering in Mexico and southern California.

This handsome species has both the crown and the broadened and lengthened throat gorgets, a purplish pink; it is slightly larger than the Ruby-throat. They are very abundant In their restricted range, and nest in February and March and again in April or May, raising two broods a season. Their nests are made of plant down and covered on the outside with cobwebs and a few lichens, and are generally located at a low elevation. The white eggs average .50 x .30. Data. Santa Monica, California, March 4, 1897. Nest in a bunch of seed pods in a gum tree, ten feet from the ground. Collector, Tom Bundy.




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432. BROAD-TAILED HUMMINGBIRD. Selasphorus platycercus.

Range. Rocky Mountain regions, north to Wyoming; winters south of the United States

This species is similar to the Ruby-throat, but larger and with the back more golden green color, and the throat shining lilac. They are very abundant in Colorado and Arizona, nesting as do the Ruby-throats in the east, and their nests being similar in construction and appearance to those of that species. The eggs cannot be distinguished from those of other species.

433. RUFOUS HUMMINGBIRD. Selasphorus rufus.

Range. Western North America, breeding from the Mexican border north to Alaska and fairly abundant in most of its range.

A handsome little species with the back and tail reddish brown, and with a throat gorget of orange red, the feathers being slightly lengthened into a ruff on the side of the gorget. They nest in a great variety of locations and at a low elevation, such as vines, bushes and the low hanging branches of trees. The nest is made of vegetable fibres covered with cobwebs and often with lichens. The eggs do not differ from those of the other Hummers.



434. ALLEN'S HUMMINGBIRD. Selasphorus alleni.

Range. Pacific coast from British Columbia southward; most abundant in California. Winters in Mexico.

This species is like the last, but the back is greenish, only the tail being reddish brown. These birds generally locate their nests at low elevations near the end of overhanging branches, on vines, weed stalks, or bushes, but have been found as high as 90 feet above ground. The nests of this species are made of plant fibres and cobwebs, generally decorated with lichens. The two white eggs measure .50 x .32. Data. Santa Monica, Cal., May 29, 1896. Nest two feet from the ground in a sage bush. Collector, W. Lee Chambers.




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Atthis morcomi.

Range. This species is known only from a single specimen, taken in the Huachuca Mountains, Arizona, in 1896.


Stellula calliope.

Range. Western United States from British Columbia southward, and from the Rocky Mountains west to eastern Oregon and California.

This is the smallest of North American Hummers, being but 3 inches in length. It is greenish above and has a violet gorget showing the white bases of the feathers. They build their nests in all manner of locations from high up in tall pines to within a foot of the ground in slender bushes. The nests are made interiorly with plant down, but the outside is generally grayish colored shreds and lichens. The eggs average but a trifle smaller than those of coluftris, .45x.30.

437- LUCIFER'S HUMMINGBIRD. Calothorax lucifer.

Range. Mexico, north to southwestern Texas and Arizona.

This species, which is common in parts of Central Mexico, occurs only casually north to our borders and has not yet been found nesting there. They build small compact nests of plant down attached to the stalks or leaves of plants or weeds.

438. *REIFFER'S HUMMINGBIRD. Amizilis tzacatl.

Range. Abundant in southern Mexico; casual in southern Texas.

This species is greenish above, with a bronzy lustre ; the tail is reddish brown, and the throat and breast are metallic green. They breed abundantly about houses and nest apparently at all seasons of the year in Central America, where they are the most common species of Hummers.




Amizilis cerviniventris chalconota.

Range. Lower Rio Grande Valley in Texas and southward through Mexico.

These birds are like the last but have the underparts a pale brownish buff color. They are quite common in ^heir summer range in the United States, nesting at- a low elevation in bushes and low trees. The two eggs are white, .50x.35. Data. Brownsville, Texas, May 5, 1892. Nest of fine bark-like fibre on the outside, lined with lint from thistle plant; located on limb of small hackberry. Collector, Frank G. Armstrong.

440. XANTUS'S HUMMINGBIRD. "Basilinna xantusi.

Range. Southern Lower California.

A handsome species, greenish above, with a coppery tinge and shading into reddish brown on the tail; under parts buffy, throat metallic green, and a broad white streak behind the eye. They breed on the ranges making a similar nest to those of other Hummers, placed on weeds or bushes near the ground. The eggs cannot be distinguished from those of the majority of other species.

440.1. WHITE-EARED HUMMINGBIRD. Basilinna leucotis.

Range. A Central American and Mexican species, casually found on the ranges in Southern Arizona.

The plumage of this species is greenish above and below, being metallic green on the breast; the forehead, sides of head, and throat are iridescent blue and a white line extends back from the eye.


441. BROAD-BILLED HUMMINGBIRD. Cynanthus 'latirostris.

Range. Mountains of central Mexico north to southern Arizona and New Mexico.

The throat of this species is a rich metallic blue; otherwise the plumage is greenish above and below, being brighter and more irisdescent on the breast. They are not uncommon on the ranges of southern Arizona, where they have been found nesting in July and August, their nest not being unlike those of the Rufous Hummer, but with the exterior largely composed of shreds of grayish bark and lichens. Their eggs are like many others of the Hummers.