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Northern Prairie Wildlife Research Center

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Forest and Rangeland Birds of the United States

Natural History and Habitat Use

Broad-tailed Hummingbird -- Selasphorus platycercus

RANGE: Breeds in the mountains from north-central Idaho, northern Utah, and northern Wyoming south to southeastern California, northern Mexico, and western Texas. Winters in Mexico.

STATUS: Common.

HABITAT: Inhabits meadows and patches of flowers within pine, spruce, fir, and sometimes aspen forests from 4,000 to 11,000 feet. Also inhabits gardens in towns and cities, and sometimes ranges eastward onto the Plains.


NEST: Nests are saddled on large horizontal limbs or small twigs in shrubs along moist canyon walls, in Douglas-fir, ponderosa pine, subalpine fir, or other conifer, oak, aspen, alder, willow, or cottonwood. Usually locates nest 4 to 15 feet above the ground, and frequently uses the same location for several consecutive summers.

FOOD: Obtains nectar from a variety of flowers. Comes to hummingbird feeders for sugar water and eats small insects and spiders.

REFERENCES: Bailey and Niedrach 1965, Bent 1940b, Johnsgard 1979, 1983b, Phillips et al. 1964, Terres 1980.

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