Bird of the Week

Photo courtesy Charles Martinez

This week’s Bird of the Week, compliments of the Weminuche Audubon Society and Audubon Rockies, is the black-chinned hummingbird.

This hummingbird (archilochus alexandri) is named for the male’s black face and chin, underlined with a wide, lustrous, purple band contrasting with a white collar. Both male and female are metallic green above with a grayish-white chest.

This small, adaptable bird occupies a broad range of habitats (arid and riparian) extending from central Mexico during winter and through the western United States into Alberta and British Columbia during spring/summer. In our southwest area, they inhabit foothills, canyons and urban areas. They thrive on the nectar of flowers, feeders and insects captured in mid-air for protein.

An outstanding characteristic of the male is performed during mating season or territorial defense. The male may dive 60-100 feet past a perching bird. A second characteristic, useful in identifying, is a distinctive tail pumping and spreading of tail feathers while hovering.

Being a polygamous bird, the male mates with numerous females, not caring to build a nest or tending to its mates or offspring. Nests built by the female are 6-12 feet above ground on a small, exposed, dead branch. Two eggs are produced in elliptical shape the size of a coffee bean, in a cup-shaped nest of plant down, spider silk, petals and leaves. Incubation is 14-16 days.

Black-chinneds are not endangered or threatened, but rely on continued conservation of stream and river vegetation, especially along migration routes, for their survival.

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