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Buff-bellied Hummingbird Life History


Open Woodlands

The Buff-bellied Hummingbird frequents shrubby and wooded habitats from northern Guatemala to southernmost Texas, where it lives mostly year-round. Buff-bellied Hummingbirds live in many lowland habitats including woodland edges, scrubby fields, parks, and gardens in suburban and urban areas provided there are flowering plants. In the Lower Rio Grande Valley of Texas, native Tamaulipan brushland habitat (with acacias, mesquite, some oaks) is very limited, but Buff-bellied Hummingbirds frequent the patches that remain, as well as habitats with taller trees along the Rio Grande River. Like many hummingbirds of the genus Amazilia, Buff-bellied persists in human-modified habitats, including cities, so long as flowering plants and insects are available. When resting or roosting overnight, this species typically uses the understory rather than the canopy. For nesting, it favors small anacahuita, Texas ebony, hackberry, willow, papaya, pecan, and ash trees.

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NectarBuff-bellied Hummingbirds consume flower nectar and eat small insects, much as other hummingbirds do, hovering at flowers to drink and chasing (flycatching) or hover-gleaning insects such as flies, mosquitoes, and caterpillars. They hunt insects in open areas but also inside the relatively dense tree canopy. Their preferred native flowers include turkscap, coral bean, tropical sage, Mexican olive, aloe vera, Texas ebony, mesquite, anacua, fountain plant, and shrimp plant. Many ornamental species, as well as papaya and banana plants, also provide nectar for this species.Back to top


Nest Placement

TreeNests are set in forks of small trees or shrubs, from 3 to about 23 feet above the ground, but most are about 10 feet high.

Nest Description

The female builds a tiny, compact cup of plant material, affixing flowers, bark, lichen, and other material to the outer walls with spiderweb. Nests average about 1.5 inches across and 1.6 inches tall, with an interior cup 1 inch across and 1 inch deep.

Nesting Facts

Egg Description:Whitish
Condition at Hatching:Helpless.
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Buff-bellied Hummingbirds make a tsi-we or siik vocalization between dawn and sunrise and perform rapid, erratic flights, perhaps flight displays directed at females. Around food sources, Buff-bellied tends to dominate any smaller hummingbird species, chasing them away with loud calls. Because the sexes have similar plumages, and because this species is usually encountered singly, it is unclear whether this aggressive behavior is associated with one sex or the other, or with territoriality related to nesting. The female constructs the nest, incubates the eggs, and raises the young without the male. Young nestlings sometimes forage together for several days after fledging and leaving the nest, but this species appears to be nonsocial otherwise. Although they are diurnal, nesting Buff-bellied Hummingbirds have been known to feed at night.

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Low Concern

Based on scant information, Buff-bellied Hummingbird populations appear to be stable. Partners in Flight estimates the global breeding population at 610,000 and rates the species an 11 out of 20 on the Continental Concern Score, indicating a species of low conservation concern. Destruction of native habitat throughout its range has probably led to population declines, but its populations have not been the subject of any study.

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Chavez-Ramirez, Felipe and Arnulfo Moreno-Valdez. (2015). Buff-bellied Hummingbird (Amazilia yucatanensis), version 2.0. In The Birds of North America (P. G. Rodewald, editor). Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, New York, USA.

Howell, S. N. G., and S. Webb (1995). A Guide to the Birds of Mexico and Northern Central America. Oxford University Press, New York, NY, USA.

Lutmerding, J. A. and A. S. Love. Longevity records of North American birds. Version 2021.1. Patuxent Wildlife Research Center, Bird Banding Laboratory 2021.

Partners in Flight. (2020). Avian Conservation Assessment Database, version 2020.

Sibley, D. A. (2014). The Sibley Guide to Birds, second edition. Alfred A. Knopf, New York, NY, USA.

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