The last of the four hummingbird species known in Meade County is the Broad-tailed Hummingbird.  As a refresher, the others are Ruby-throated, Calliope and Rufus Hummingbirds.  As with the others, records are few and far between, and in the case of the Broad-tailed Hummingbird, are all during the month of August.


The last of the four hummingbird species known in Meade County is the Broad-tailed Hummingbird.  As a refresher, the others are Ruby-throated, Calliope and Rufus Hummingbirds.  As with the others, records are few and far between, and in the case of the Broad-tailed Hummingbird, are all during the month of August.
    The Broad-tailed Hummingbird is the common nesting hummingbird of the Rocky Mountains of Idaho, Montana, Wyoming and southward.  Sometimes it ranges eastward of the mountains, especially during fall migration, reaching western Kansas.
    As with the other Selasphorus hummingbirds, fall identification can be especially tricky, and most cannot be reliably identified to species.  Sometimes you just have to be happy seeing a hummingbird and not worry about the details.  Length and shape of the bill and location and amount of white in the tail should help in identification, but not always.  On the nesting grounds, it is more often heard than seen with the shrill sound of its wings in display being louder and more rattling than the buzzing sounds of other species.  Specialized wing feathers of the Broad-tailed Hummingbird are unique and contribute to the trilling sound in flight.
    Like other hummingbirds, the Broad-tailed eats many tiny insects and spiders as well as nectar and can be attracted to feeders in our area.
    There may still be a few hummingbirds lingering in our area, so check out those patches of flowers in the garden and of course, your feeder.
    A native of Southwest Kansas, Tom Flowers is District Conservationist with the Meade County Natural Resources Conservation Service.