- ORDER: Caprimulgiformes
- FAMILY: Trochilidae
Largest of the hummingbird species that nest in the United States, the Blue-throated Mountain-gem is an assertive presence at feeders and flower patches. Males have a brilliant sapphire-colored gorget that glitters in good light; both sexes have double white stripes on the face and gray underparts. This Mexican species barely reaches the U.S. in southeastern Arizona and southwestern Texas, where it visits streamside flowerbanks and gardens. Unusual among hummingbirds, both female and male have complex songs, sometimes given in a duet during courtship.More ID Info
Find This Bird
To find a Blue-throated Mountain-gem, visit the “sky island” mountain ranges of southeastern Arizona or the Chisos Mountains of Texas. Birding lodges, B&Bs, and visitor centers with hummingbird feeders are good places to find them. To see them in a more wild setting, walk trails or roads along flower-lined streams, and listen for the male’s loud, sweet chip note every 1–2 seconds. He typically sings from a fairly high, exposed song perch that is easily found.
- Colibrí gorjiazul (Spanish)
- Colibri à gorge bleue (French)
If you live within their range, Blue-throated Mountain-gems may visit a sugar-water feeder or a hummingbird garden in your yard. For feeders, use a ratio of one part table sugar dissolved in four parts water, and don’t use food coloring. Learn more about feeding hummingbirds. Here’s more about creating a hummingbird garden.
- Cool Facts
- As might be expected for the largest U.S. hummingbird species, the Blue-throated Mountain-gem beats its wings about half as fast as smaller species. Still, it manages to beat them 23 times a second while hovering.
- The Blue-throated Mountain-gem is about three times heavier than the Ruby-throated Hummingbird.
- Hybridization among hummingbird species is fairly common, but because male hummers don’t help raise the young, it can be difficult to figure out which species are involved in hybrids. Blue-throated Mountain-gem hybridizes with the Magnificent Hummingbird (another large species) but also with smaller species, probably including Costa’s, Anna’s, and Black-chinned.
- The Blue-throated Mountain-gem was called Blue-throated Hummingbird until mid-2019. It is a member of the mountain-gem genus, Lampornis, which includes 7 other species that occur south of the United States. Blue-throated was renamed so that all members of the genus (Lampornis) would have the same English name.
- The female Blue-throated Mountain-gem gives a special call that appears to indicate that she is ready to mate. She makes a series of short flights that appear to be a display to the male before copulation. Unlike most North American hummingbirds, male Blue-throated Mountain-gems do not have an aerial display.
- These birds will mob predatory birds as big as Northern Goshawks, sometimes working cooperatively to drive away the predator.
- The oldest known Blue-throated Mountain-gem was a male, and at least 7 years, 11 months when it was recaptured and rereleased during banding operations in Arizona.