Female Broad-tailed Hummingbird? (Correction: Black-chinned)

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Female Black-chinned HummingbirdFemale Black-chinned Hummingbird

Correction: These images show a young female Black-chinned Hummingbird. Thanks for the ID Seagull Steve and Rusty Trump!

A few days ago I posted images of what I thought were Calliope Hummingbirds and wondered if I saw seeing more than one species feeding on the Rocky Mountain Bee Plants. After looking at these images that I took last Friday I am wondering if this hummingbird that I photographed is a female Broad-tailed Hummingbird. The tail on this bird does seem longer than the other hummingbird images I posted.

Hovering over Rocky Mountain Bee PlantHovering over Rocky Mountain Bee Plant

I might be wrong about the ID because I have learned that it is a challenge to ID female and juvenile hummingbirds where several species are seen during migration. All of these images are of the same bird which was nice enough to hover close to me so I could take multiple images of it with the wings in different positions.

Flying jewelFlying jewel

This might be an immature female Broad-tailed Hummingbird because an adult female appears to have a more spotted throat and buffier flanks though I might be could be wrong. The tail does come more to a point than I would think a Calliope’s tail would.

Feeding on the nectar of the Bee PlantFeeding on the nectar of the Bee Plant

Regardless of the ID I am thrilled that this hummingbird fed on the Rocky Mountain Bee Plant that was not too far away or too close. Hummingbirds are very feisty despite their diminutive size and they kept chasing each other the whole time we photographed them.

Of course, I would appreciate any help with the ID of this hummingbird!



  1. Rusty Trump September 3, 2013 at 8:59 am

    Hi Mia,

    Seagullsteve is correct, this bird is in the Archilochus genus and the field marks and location point to a female Black-chinned. Based on the buffy edged tips on the crown, back and rump, it is most likely a young female that hatched this summer. Awesome shots! Really enjoyed them.

    • Mia McPherson September 5, 2013 at 7:17 pm

      Hi Rusty, thanks for stopping by and confirming SeagullSteve’s ID, I much appreciate the help. Thanks also for your kind words on my images.

  2. Seagullsteve September 2, 2013 at 10:04 pm

    You crushed her! That poor bird! Clean throat and lack of buffy flanks point to Black-chinned. If I saw this bird in California (where Broad-tailed is practically non-existent) I wouldn’t hesitate to call it BCHU. BTHU females/immatures are colored/patterned much more like other Selasphorus (Rufous, Calliope, etc); I get a much stronger Archilochus vibe for this bird. That dark ear patch is pretty common on Black-chinned/Ruby-throated as well.

    • Mia McPherson September 5, 2013 at 7:15 pm

      Thank you very much Seagull, IDing these has been trouble for me and I appreciate your help.

  3. Sheila September 2, 2013 at 6:14 pm

    Gosh, look at the length of the bill! How much fun this is to ID these!!!

    • Mia McPherson September 5, 2013 at 7:13 pm

      Thanks Sheila, I am learning!

  4. M. Firpi September 2, 2013 at 4:31 pm

    Enchanting Mia, You nailed that bird like no one else.

    • Mia McPherson September 5, 2013 at 7:13 pm

      Thanks Maria, it was a joy to photograph these birds

  5. Elephant's Child September 2, 2013 at 3:23 pm

    I cannot help on the identity, but am so grateful to see this stunning bird. Thank you.

  6. Kathie September 2, 2013 at 3:16 pm

    Mia, I also think it is a female Broad-tailed due to not only the longer tail but the longer bill! Plus, behavior is a key. Black-chins constantly pump their tails in flight. Another clue, according to the Stokes field guide, black-chin females have a gray forehead and a long, slightly down-curved bill. Yours seems pretty green to me and the bill seems fairly straight. Too bad she didn’t fan her tail out. That would have helped. Amazing pics as always!

    • Mia McPherson September 5, 2013 at 7:09 pm

      Thanks Kathie, it seems this is a young female Black-chinned.

      Maybe one day I will be able to ID the females and young accurately.

  7. Keith Nichols September 2, 2013 at 12:31 pm

    These photos are phenomenal. I can only wish that one day I can get even close to capturing shots like these.

    • Mia McPherson September 2, 2013 at 1:41 pm

      Thank you so much Keith and thanks for visiting my blog.

      Practice, practice, practice… that is what made me a better photographer.

  8. Bryce Robinson September 2, 2013 at 10:48 am

    Well, I can give you my ideas Mia. I love Hummingbirds, because they often present some difficult ID challenges. I’m still learning the hummingbirds, and haven’t really done what it takes to be completely confident with some species. Hopefully in the next few years I’ll spend some time banding some of these birds, and looking through the parameters in hand and truly get to know the bird. I think that is the best way to really know, along with observing and working out every bird you see.

    That being said, I like Broad-tailed for this bird. I don’t know anything about ageing these birds from photographs, but the overall lack of rufous on the flanks of this bird seems odd to me. Perhaps hatch year birds have less coloring in their flanks? Also, this bird lacks any eye-ring. These characteristics, along with overall body shape and bill shape made me consider Black-chinned. I haven’t studied BTHU enough to say these factors separate the two. But, because your photos show wing shape, I don’t think the bird has the nice curved and rounded outer primaries of the BCHU. The wings appear pointed, even at the point in a flap where they appear the broadest, as one of your photos show. It looks to me like the outer primaries are more pointed and straight than what one might expect from a BCHU. Maybe I’m over analyzing everything, which shows how much experience I have with hummingbirds, haha.

    It’s difficult, but my vote is yes, you have photographed a Broad-tailed Hummingbird. I’d be curious to hear what others have to say. I know a few people around here that have done some extensive hummingbird banding, and might have some insight. Great photos as always!

    • Mia McPherson September 2, 2013 at 1:40 pm

      Thank you Bryce, I wondered about Black-chinned female but I sort of ruled that out by many of the keys you pointed out. Please feel free to pass the link on to the people you know who have had experience in hand with these hummingbirds, I would appreciate their insight.

      Thanks for commenting 🙂

  9. Steve Creek September 2, 2013 at 7:55 am

    Super nice Mia!

    • Mia McPherson September 2, 2013 at 1:37 pm

      Thank you my friend, hope all is great in Arkansas

  10. Beverly Everson September 2, 2013 at 7:39 am

    Fantastic shots!!!

  11. Patty Chadwick September 2, 2013 at 7:32 am


    • Mia McPherson September 2, 2013 at 1:36 pm

      Thank you Patty, they are exquisite birds.

  12. Montanagirl September 2, 2013 at 6:49 am

    I can’t help you with the I.D., but your photos are magnificent!!

  13. Eileen September 2, 2013 at 4:34 am

    Mia, gorgeous images of the hummer! The colors are lovely. Have a happy day!

    • Mia McPherson September 2, 2013 at 1:36 pm

      Thank you Eileen, I hope you are having a glorious day.

  14. Sonja Ross September 2, 2013 at 4:23 am

    The out of focus flowers certainly make a lovely background. Another lovely series. Good luck with getting an id.

    • Mia McPherson September 2, 2013 at 1:35 pm

      Thanks Sonja, I know the females and juveniles can be hard to ID. seems easier back east where the only hummingbirds I saw in my garden were Ruby-throated!

  15. eric c11 September 2, 2013 at 3:57 am

    ohh, what a beautifull lady =))
    and the pink bokeh is perfect for her, good job mia
    i m away 2 weeks for hollidays, see you soon ☺

  16. Bob Bushell September 2, 2013 at 3:50 am

    Excellent Mia. The way that you’ve made it outshine any before it.

    • Mia McPherson September 2, 2013 at 1:34 pm

      Thank you Bob, I am enamored of these birds.

Comments are closed.