Hummingbird Central

Broad-tailed Hummingbird

Common Name
Broad-tailed Hummingbird
Scientific Name
Selasphorus platycercus

Range & Migration

Summers in the mountains of the West, particularly in the high elevations of California, Mexico, and the southern and central Rocky Mountains. Casual fall and winter visitor to the Gulf coast.

They breed at elevations up to 10,500 feet, where temperatures regularly dip below freezing during the night. 

Broad-tailed hummingbirds migrate north in the spring leaving behind the non-migrant populations in central Mexico.

During spring migration, males reach southern Arizona in late February or early March, northern Arizona in early April, Colorado in late April to late May, Wyoming in mid-May, and Idaho/Southern Montana by late May.

After breeding, Broad-tailed Hummingbirds start their south-bound migration into their winter range in the highlands of Mexico south to Guatemala.

Characteristics and Identification

Male has red-rose throat, with white underparts and green sides. Adult female has white throat speckled with iridescent green or bronze. Wing beats produce loud, harsh, whistling sounds.

Differentiated from Ruby-throated by its primarily Western range, and rounded rather than forked tail (see images below).

Male Broad-tailed Hummingbirds emit an insect-like, metallic wing-trill with their wings while flying that can be quite loud. It is sometimes characterized as a tell-tale 1950s VW engine trill.  

Comparison of the Broad-tailed, Ruby-throated and Black-chinned hummingbirds


Range Map of the Broad-tailed Hummingbird

The map below shows the approximate range of the Broad-tailed Hummingbird in the United States. Of course actual areas vary by year depending on weather-related conditions and other environmental factors.

Range of the Broad-tailed Hummingbird in the United States


Broad-tailed Hummingbird
Broad-Tailed Hummingbird

Broad-tailed Hummingbird

Broad-tailed Hummingbird at feeder
Broad-Tailed Hummingbird

Broad-tailed Hummingbird
Broad-Tailed Hummingbird