Saturday, 2 February 2013

Broad Billed Hummingbird

order : Apodiformes      Genus & Species : Trochilidae     Family : Cynanthus latirostris

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. Though its brightly colored bill is adapted for catching insects, the broad-billed hummingbird also hovers near flowers to sip nectar. They found in North America in northern and central Mexico; also in the U.S. in parts of southeastern Arizona, southwestern New Mexico and western Texas. 

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. 
Food & Feeding : 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. 
Behavior : 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. 
Breeding : 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. 

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 : The hummingbird’s upper mandible curves around and over the sides of the smaller lower mandible .This helps keep nectar and insects inside the long bill. 
Feathers : Each barbule contains stacks of microscopic plates . Light is refracted through the tiny plates much like light through a prism, producing brilliant metallic blues and greens. 
Feet : The tiny feet and legs are used only for perching, not walking.Three toes point forward, one backward. 

Weight : Less than 1 oz.
Length : 3.5-4.5"
Wingspan : About 5"
Sexual Maturity : 1 year
Breeding Season : Varies with location

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

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