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.

For information on future events, check our website, www.weminucheaudubon.org, and www.facebook.com/weminucheaudubon/.

This story was posted on May 25, 2020.