I was traveling in Utah near Salt Lake City last month and came across several hummingbirds enjoying sugar water at a rest stop.
While it’s difficult to distinguish many hummingbird species from others, male Black-chinned Hummingbirds have a distinctive iridescent purple band at the bottom the throat—sometimes. It generally appears black, except in excellent light.
These hummingbirds are comfortable in arid habitats as well as along the banks of rivers and around lakes. They prefer to be in shaded areas and often settle in mountain foothills, canyons and urban gardens.
Their summer range includes the Rocky Mountains and related ranges from west Texas north to Idaho and east Washington and Oregon and in the southern California coastline and sections of northern Mexico.
Black-chinneds winter along the central western coast of Mexico and the Gulf Coast of the US.
The hummingbirds’ call notes are a rapidly repeated “pip-pip.” When aggressive, they use a raspy chatter.
Other than in mating season, the birds are solitary, though there may be several in the same general region. When feeding or hovering, they’ll pump their tails, sometimes with the tail feathers spread.
The male Black-chinned Hummingbirds add flair to courtship, engaging in a pendulum-shaped dive of 60-100 feet past a perched female. They’re also territorial and perch on branches, chasing away any intruders.
Territorial they may be, but they are not monogamous. They mate with several females during the mating season but do not provide any incubation care.
My thanks to Jim McConnor and Anders Fjeldstad of Blackbrook Audubon Society for confirming the identity of the two species of hummingbirds.
from About.com Photos copyright Carole Clement
Coming up, Western Broad-tailed Hummingbird