Broadbilled Hummingbird

Apodiformes

Trochilidae

GENUS & SPECIES

Cynanthus latirostris

Breeding Season

I • Eats more insects than most other

[ hummingbirds

I. • Brightly colored bill distinguishes it from other hummingbirds

I • Only the female builds the nest, incubates the eggs and cares for the young

| • Moves up, down, forward and backward while hovering in the air among flowers

WHERE IN THE WORLD?

[ Found in North

; America in northern and central Mexico;

p also in the U.S. in parts of southeastern Arizona, southwestern New Mexico and

. western Texas

habitat-

The broad-billed hummingbird's brilliant colors flash in the sunlight, as the bird darts from flower to flower to collect nectar or when the male displays to females.

habitat-

The broad-billed hummingbird is primarily a Mexican species; its range barely enters the U.S. in southeastern Arizona, southwestern New Mexico and western Texas. Whether in Mexico or the U.S., it inhabits stands of sycamore and mesquite trees at the base of mountain canyons. It also dwells in foothills in arroyos (dry gullies) and along the banks of streams.The bird also frequents gardens and residential areas, always searching for new foraging sites that are full of flowers. In the fall, when the weather turns cooler; the hummingbirds that venture as far north as the U.S. return to Mexico for the winter

A. Perch and search A male broad-billed hummingbird scans for new flowers.

Broad-billed hummingbirds that migrate north to the U.S. for breeding arrive in March and April, but do not form bonded pairs. The males display for the females, showing off the iridescent markings on their throats in the sunlight in order to attract a mate. After mating, the male flies off to find another female, leaving the first female to build the nest alone.The broad-billed female uses grasses, bits of leaves and bark She forms a small cup, usually on the branch of a small tree about 4-7' above ground, and lays her two white eggs.

After a 17-20-day incubation, the young hatch — naked, blind and totally helpless. But they have well-developed crops, and shortly after they hatch, the female begins pumping extraordinary amounts of food, both tiny insects and nectar, into her young. Even after fledging, the female continues to feed the young birds for an additional 20-40 days. In the U.S., the breeding season lasts from April to August, and a second nesting attempt is common; due to the warm weather; a third is not uncommon in the long tropical breeding season in Mexico.

Like all hummingbirds, the staple of the broad-billed hummingbird's diet is nectar Favorites include paintbrush plants (Castilleja) and the red blossoms of the ocotillo plant. For most of the year, the ocotillo is bare and thorny, but as soon as the spring rains arrive, scarlet flower clusters appear at the branch tips — just in time for the broad-billed hummingbird's spring arrival in the U.S. The hummingbird is able to hover and also move forward or backward to reach the sweet fluids nestled inside flowers. After inserting its bill into the flower, it opens its bill slightly and darts its tongue into the fluid.The long tongue can be extended the same length as the bill; when it is pulled back into the bill, the nectar is scraped off of the tongue.The tongue flicks in and out with great speed, from 10-15 times per second. The broad-billed hummingbird's specialized bill enables it to catch insects as well as sip nectar Aphids, leafhoppers, root gnats, flower flies, ants, parasitic wasps and daddy longlegs are all captured either by hovering in flight, gleaning from the vegetation or stealing from spider webs. All hummingbirds expend great amounts of energy and must eat over 50% of their bodyweight in food each day Hummingbirds, like all birds, only have about 50 taste buds — 1% of the number found in human tongues. But this amount is enough for them to differentiate between liquids. They choose the one highest in sugar — the sweetest.

Hummingbirds Mating

Q Still hungry.

A male takes a brief break It remains in one place since its feet are designed only for perching.

Q Forward.

Most of the hummingbird's diet is nectar; it eats over half its bodyweight in food each day.

Q Backward. Q Insects too

A hummingbird expertly backs away Its broad bill enables it to catch from flowers by tilting the leading larger insects as well, such as a fly edges of its wings to the rear. that comes too close.

Q Still hungry.

A male takes a brief break It remains in one place since its feet are designed only for perching.

Q Forward.

Most of the hummingbird's diet is nectar; it eats over half its bodyweight in food each day.

conservation

The broad-billed hummingbird is currently not endangered. It has easily adapted to the lack of suitable flowers in some of its range by frequenting gardens and residential areas, where humans often leave sugar water in hummingbird feeders to supplement their nectar diet.

^ Ready for more Two young chicks beg for more insects and nectar.

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# Many women in the 19th century wore stuffed hummingbirds on their hats; London, Paris and New York imported 400,000 birds each per year.

# In all but three or four species of hummingbird, males do not even know the location of their mate's nests.

Hummingbirds have the largest breast muscles of all birds relative to body size.

Q Backward. Q Insects too

A hummingbird expertly backs away Its broad bill enables it to catch from flowers by tilting the leading larger insects as well, such as a fly edges of its wings to the rear. that comes too close.

Broad-billed hummingbirds reach the U.S. only in the spring. In September and October; they migrate south to Mexico. Some birds are residents year-round in Mexico, preferring to bypass the migration, which requires extra energy A hummingbird appears quite blurry in flight, since its wings are moving from 22-78 beats per second. The bird's shoulder joint can be rotated just like a human's wrist. The hummingbird has large breast muscles for power; it is the only bird whose upstroke of the wing provides as much power as its downstroke.The broad-billed hummingbird takes advantage of its fast speed and small size to evade predators, including hawks.

A. Stretch and peck A male cleans his brilliantly colored feathers.

Broad-billed Hummingbird

Though its brightly colored bill is adapted for catching insects, the broad-billed hummingbird also hovers near flowers to sip nectar.

Wings

A hummingbird's wing is made up of elongated "hand" bones, which allow the whole wing to rotate, similar to a human's wrist. Of all birds, only hummingbirds can hover and move forward and backward.

Bill (cross section)

The hummingbird's upper mandible (A) curves around and over the sides of the smaller lower mandible (B).This helps keep nectar and insects inside the long bill.

Cross Section Insect Wings

Each barbule (A) contains stacks of microscopic plates (B). Light is refracted through the tiny plates much like light through a prism, producing brilliant metallic blues and greens.

creature comparisons

Each barbule (A) contains stacks of microscopic plates (B). Light is refracted through the tiny plates much like light through a prism, producing brilliant metallic blues and greens.

creature comparisons

VITAL STATISTICS

t Weight

Wings

A hummingbird's wing is made up of elongated "hand" bones, which allow the whole wing to rotate, similar to a human's wrist. Of all birds, only hummingbirds can hover and move forward and backward.

Bill (cross section)

The hummingbird's upper mandible (A) curves around and over the sides of the smaller lower mandible (B).This helps keep nectar and insects inside the long bill.

Hummingbirds Breeding

Length

Wingspan

Sexual Maturity

Breeding Varies Season according to

Typical Diet

Lifespan

The female is similar to the male in coloration but she has pearl-gray underparts.

Length

Wingspan

Sexual Maturity

Less than 1 oz.

About 5"

About 1 year

The female is similar to the male in coloration but she has pearl-gray underparts.

Measuring 7" in length from bill to tail, the sword-billed hummingbird (,Ensifera ensifera) is larger than the broad-billed hummingbird. Its 4"-long bill is its distinguishing feature.The green, yellow and brown sword-billed hummingbird has the longest bill, relative to its size, of any bird. It uses this "sword" to reach the nectar of trumpet-shaped flowers, including fuschias. Found farther south than its relative, the sword-billed hummingbird inhabits the Andes, from Venezuela and Colombia southwest through Ecuador; Peru and Bolivia.

Broad-billed hummingbird

Sword-billed hummingbird

Broad-billed hummingbird

Breeding Varies Season according to

Number of Eggs

Incubation Period

Fledging Period

Breeding Interval

Typical Diet

Lifespan region

15-20 days

About 22 days

Up to 3 clutches per season

Nectar and insects

Unknown

Sword-billed hummingbird

RELATED SPECIES

• The broad-billed hummingbird is 1 of 315 species within 112 genera in the family Trochilidae — the second largest bird family in the New World. Hummingbirds range in length from 2.25-8.5" and can be found wherever nectar-producing flowers blossom. The smallest hummingbird found in North America is the calliope hummingbird, . Stellula calliope, measuring only 3.5" from bill to tail.

Brown Creeper

• ORDER • • FAMILY • • GENUS & SPECIES •

Passeriformes Certhiidae Certhia familiar is

• ORDER • • FAMILY • • GENUS & SPECIES •

Passeriformes Certhiidae Certhia familiar is

Two Geckos Mating Pheasant

KEY FEATURES

• A sparrow-sized bird of woodland and forests

• Creeps up tree trunks and along branches to probe the bark for hidden insects and spiders

• Climbs each tree in same way, by starting near its base and moving up the trunk in spirals

• Small groups survive winter nights by huddling together in spaces behind loose bark

WHERE IN THE WORLD?

Found across most of Europe and Asia to eastern China and Japan; separate populations occur in the Caucasus Mountains and Himalayas; also across most of North America

At first glance, the brown creeper looks more like a mouse than a bird as it scurries up tree trunks, stopping every now and again to extract prey from crevices in the bark.

Although the brown creeper feeds in a highly specialized way, it lives in a wide range of wooded habitats, from dense forests to small woods in farmland, hedgerows, parks and wooded gardens, even in cities. It stays close to tree trunks and large branches, but is sometimes seen on small treetop twigs and on crumbling walls.

In central Europe, where the short-toed treecreeper occurs, the brown creeper is largely confined to coniferous woods and mountainous areas, so as to avoid competition for food and nest sites with its relative, which prefers deciduous woodland in the lowlands.

A Buried treasure Old trees with loose, flaking bark are best for hunting.

CONSERVATION

In harsh winters, brown creeper numbers can suffer large declines, but they usually recover within a few successful breeding seasons. Modern forestry practices have led to local declines, as the bird favors mature trees mixed in with dead or rotting timber, and avoids the fast-growing, frequently felled trees of commercial forests.

Breeding Season Male

or 6 eggs. She incubates them alone for two weeks or so, but the male then helps her to feed the chicks for up to 16 days.

O Flying

With a hungry brood to feed, a parent flies to the base of an old tree and begins to glean systematically.

In spring, the male brown creeper regularly performs a high-pitched song from high in a tree to defend his nesting territory from rivals and to attract females. When a potential mate finally arrives, he chases her around tree trunks and through the air, shivering his wings to show off their bold coloring. As part of his courtship, he feeds her tasty morsels, delicately placing the food straight into her bill.

The pair builds a cosy nest behind loose bark or ivy, at the bottom of a hole in a tree, or in a cavity (left), such as that made by a lightning strike. The female usually lays 5

or 6 eggs. She incubates them alone for two weeks or so, but the male then helps her to feed the chicks for up to 16 days.

► Hanging around A recent fledgling may cling to bark for several days before making its first flight.

FEEDING THE FAMILY

FEEDING THE FAMILY

O Flying

With a hungry brood to feed, a parent flies to the base of an old tree and begins to glean systematically.

► Hanging around A recent fledgling may cling to bark for several days before making its first flight.

It walks slowly up the trunk, closely examining every little nook and cranny in the bark as it goes.

behavior

The camouflage on the brown creeper's upperparts makes it easy to escape the attention of humans, and is very hard for predators to spot. If pursued, it deploys evasive tactics to outwit its enemies: it runs to the other side of the tree trunk, where it can suddenly change direction, or makes quick "side-steps" across the trunk. However; its flight is weak and butterflylike.

Except during the breeding season, the brown creeper leads a rather solitary life, staying close to its nesting territory. In winter; it may join a mixed flock of other small woodland birds in the search for food.

A Spring cleaning Adults remove youngs' droppings from the nest.

Q Round and round...

The brown creeper climbs in long spirals, disappearing behind the trunk to reappear again much higher up.

O Grubs up

The only time this bird stops moving is to pause to extract an insect or grub from the bark.

Q Round and round...

The brown creeper climbs in long spirals, disappearing behind the trunk to reappear again much higher up.

O Grubs up

The only time this bird stops moving is to pause to extract an insect or grub from the bark.

# Woodpeckers are among the brown creeper's more unlikely predators.

The male often makes several nests, and his mate chooses her preferred location.

food & feeding

food & feeding

The brown creeper shares its woodland habitats with other insectivorous (insect-eating) birds, including warblers, kinglets, nuthatches and flycatchers, but its specialized bill can probe into places they can't reach. Most of its prey is easily pulled out and swallowed whole, but the bird sometimes struggles to pry grubs from their tight-fitting holes. The brown creeper may look like a tiny woodpecker; but it cannot peck or drill with its delicate, needlelike bill.

The brown creeper's diet consists mainly of spiders, woodlice, weevils and other small beetles, earwigs and moths. It devours adult insects and spiders, as well as their eggs and larvae, especially fat grubs and caterpillars. In winter; the brown creeper may supplement this diet with seeds, especially from pine and spruce trees.

# In England, soft-barked redwood trees from North America have become a favorite roost site.

An old name for the brown creeper is the tree mouse.

OFILE Brown Creeper

Using its strong claws as climbing hooks, the brown creeper walks up tree trunks to extract prey from the bark with its fine, tweezerlike bill.

Winter roost_

In winter the brown creeper roosts in a sheltered spot, such as a tree hollow or bark crevice. It puffs out the soft plumage of its lower back to trap warm air around itself and hide its outline from

Birds That Climb Spirals

Many birds can climb vertical surfaces, but few are as skilled as the wallcreeper (Tichodroma murarid), which is found in rocky gorges and on high crags in many mountain ranges in Europe and Asia. It climbs rock faces in search of insects, and can even cling underneath overhangs of rock.

Wallcreeper (male)

The slender, downcurved bill can slip into tiny crevices in bark to pull out prey.

Plumage

The brown creeper's upperparts are intricately mottled and streaked with brown, cream and black, to camouflage it against bark. Its underparts and "eyebrow," or supercilium, are silvery white.

The toes are long and tipped with sharp, curved claws to give a good grip on barkThe large rear claw helps anchor the bird when climbing.

creature comparisons

creature comparisons

Many birds can climb vertical surfaces, but few are as skilled as the wallcreeper (Tichodroma murarid), which is found in rocky gorges and on high crags in many mountain ranges in Europe and Asia. It climbs rock faces in search of insects, and can even cling underneath overhangs of rock.

Wallcreeper (male)

The wallcreeper's body is similar to the brown creeper's, but is larger and lacks the long, stiffened tail that its relative uses as a brace. Instead, it flicks open its colorful, scarlet-and-black wings for balance and support. The female wallcreeper's plumage is grayer than the male's, with less . „„ red on the wings. ^ W Brown creeper

VITAL

statistics

( Weight

0.28-0.42 oz.

■ Length

5"

Wingspan

7-8.5"

Sexual Maturity

1 year

Breeding [ Season

April-August

: Number of Eggs

3-9; usually 5-6

Incubation . Period

14-15 days

Fledging i Period

14-16 days

i Breeding Interval

1 year

f Typical Diet

Invertebrates, such as insects and their eggs, spiders and woodlice; some seeds in winter

L Lifespan

Up to 9 years

• There are 7 species of small, tree-climbing bird in the brown creeper family, Certhiidae; includes 5 treecreeper species and the brown and spotted-gray creepers. They are similar in appearance and habits to the Sittidae: a family of tree- and rock-climbing birds that includes the wallcreeper and 21 species of nuthatch. Both families belong to the order Passeriformes, which has over 5,700 species.

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Responses

  • TECLA
    Why do broad billed hummingbirds hover?
    1 year ago
  • annemari
    What is the broadbilled hummingbird reproduction cycle?
    1 year ago

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