It’s greenish, shiny, quick, and always hungry – our Cole’s Bird of the Month is the Broad-tailed Hummingbird. This appropriately named medium-sized hummer has a relatively long and wide tail. It’s kind of the cowboy of hummingbirds, living in the meadows and mountains of the western United States and in the high elevations of Mexico.
The Broad-tailed hummingbird is an independent breed. The males and females will mate and then select their nest site together. But, they don’t like to be pinned down to one relationship. Once the female is ready to make her nest and raise her young, she’s pretty much on her own. The males don’t stick around to help out. In fact, during the nesting season, the males often spend the evenings in higher elevations where they can stay warmer.
One of the most interesting attributes of Broad-tailed hummers is their ability to withstand very cold climates. To stay warm when the temperatures drop, all hummingbirds enter what’s known as hypothermic torpor, a slowed metabolic state that can keep their body temperature about ten degrees warmer than the outside air. Unfortunately, this ability comes with a price – It takes more energy. So, the males often head for the hills at night where the warm air rises as the cold air descends into the valleys. This thermal inversion means the female must use extra energy to keep warm, while the male conserves his.
As it turns out, the promiscuous males need the extra energy to perform their impressive acrobatic courtship dances for the ladies. They fly high in the air, trill their wings, and then dive down to the females hoping the display catches her eye.
To keep up their energy, Broad-tailed Hummingbirds prefer flower nectar from Red Columbine, Indian paintbrush, sage, and Scarlet Coyote Mint; however they’ll also feed from flowers other hummers ignore such as pussywillows and Glacier Lilies. Like most hummers, they always enjoy a protein filled snack of insects when they can catch them.
If you’ve never had the pleasure of seeing a Broad-tailed Hummingbird, we recommend this video so that you can get a close up view.
This is another great video, showing a typical mountainous habitat for Broad-tailed Hummingbirds. This one is in Colorado. You don’t see the hummer until 2:50 into the video.
Used alone or combined with a pretty red flower bed, Cole’s High Rise Hummer is the perfect feeder to attract hummingbirds to your backyard. Hummingbird nectar should be made with a four to one ratio of water to sugar. No red dye is needed.
For advice on how often to change the nectar from company founder Richard Cole, click on the link below.
If you have photos or stories to share about hummingbirds, we’d love for you to share them with the Cole’s community on our Facebook page. Cole’s Wild Bird Products is a family-owned company that distributes wild bird feed and suet products. The company is known for offering the highest quality products on the market. Cole’s also specializes in chile infused seed products designed to make your feeder a bird’s only “hot” spot. Cole’s started in the garage of mom and pop entrepreneurs Richard and Nancy Cole back in the early 1980’s. Today it distributes to retailers nationwide. Cole’s is located in the metro Atlanta area. For more information, visit www.ColesWildBird.com.