Our bird identification guide to blue-throated hummingbirds and expert advice about this colorful hummingbird species.
Blue-throated hummingbird by photo by Steve Byland
Bigger isn't always better. But when it comes to tiny hummingbirds, a little more size certainly helps you get a better look at these miraculous creatures.
That's where the blue-throated hummingbird has a leg up on its cousins. It's the largest hummingbird in North America.
Blue-throateds are not much smaller than black-capped chickadees, and measure a full 2 inches longer than the calliope hummingbird, the smallest in North America. They're heavy, too—double the weight of the ruby-throated hummingbird.
Because of their large size, blue-throated hummingbirds have larger wings and broad tails to keep their heavier bodies airborne. Their wing beats are slower than other hummers, but they're still a blur of activity to our eye.
These birds have large appetites. They'll feed on nectar and pollen, but supplement their diet with lots of insects, including beetles, flies, wasps and spiders.
Blue-throated hummingbirds are obviously named for the striking neon-blue throat of the adult male. French naturalist, explorer and bird collector Rene P. Lesson named this brilliant iridescent bird Lampornis clemenciae. The first part of that scientific name appropriately means "torch bird."
Blue-throated hummingbirds have a bully reputation. They're very aggressive against intruders into their feeding territories, and strike other birds that trespass.
You'll mostly find them in shady wooded canyons and open woodlands in Arizona, New Mexico and southwest Texas, but backyard birders may see them as they migrate through gardens to feed on penstemon, cardinal flower and tree tobacco.
Blue-throated hummingbirds build nests much larger than other hummingbirds. Rather than start from scratch, females reuse their nests for several years, adding onto the old one each time.