Nebraska Ornithologists' Union


Date of this Version



DeLara & Smith, “First Documented Nebraska Record of Black-chinned Hummingbird (Archilochus alexandri),” from Nebraska Bird Review (March 2013) 81(1).


Copyright 2013 Nebraska Ornithologists' Union. Used by permission.


On the morning of May 7, 2012, I . . . saw a post on Jane's Greenhouse [Facebook] wall about a hummingbird that was in one of their greenhouses. . . . Jane's Greenhouse is a small retail greenhouse located on the west edge of Scottsbluff, Nebraska. Fully expecting to see a Broad-tailed Hummingbird, I went inside to see if it was still there. . . . and saw the hummingbird flitting around the flowers in the hanging baskets that were for sale. . . . I watched it for a minute or so and saw that it was a female hummingbird, mostly green and white, and realized that it wasn't a Broad-tailed after all. . . . I decided that it was a Ruby-throated or possibly a Black-chinned Hummingbird. It was a more slender shape than the Broad-tailed and didn't have any rufous coloring on it anywhere, but I wasn't sure what to look for to make the distinction between the two, so went back out to the car for my Sibley Guide to Birds. I checked the Ruby-throated and Black-chinned Hummingbird descriptions to see what to look for and went back into the greenhouse to observe the hummer again. The bird would sit still for only a few seconds at a time, and I really couldn't be positive of the wing shape or color, although it did seem to be a dull green. The bird was pumping its tail, which the Black-chinned does and the Ruby-throated doesn't, and by that time I was pretty sure it was a Black-chinned Hummingbird. I decided that I really needed a picture of the bird for a positive identification. . . . I called Marie Smith to see if she was available to go to the greenhouse and take some pictures. When I got back to work, I posted the sighting on NEBirds. . . . In the pictures I could see the primaries on a perched bird had wide, rounded tips, most notably in the outer primaries, the head was more gray than green, and the bill was slightly decurved. All of that, along with the tail pumping, made me sure it was a Black-chinned Hummingbird. . . . The Black-chinned Hummingbird (Archilochus alexandri) is the western counterpart of the Ruby-throated Hummingbird (Archilochus colubris). The Black-chinned breeds throughout western North America, from northern Mexico and Texas north to Washington and southern British Columbia (Baltosser and Russell 2000). Breeding ranges of the Black-chinned and Ruby-throated overlap only in east-central Texas (Arnold 1995), but the Black-chinned does occasionally wander into the eastern United States in fall and winter (Hilton 2008). In the western United States, it is abundant and is noteworthy for being a generalist and occurring in a variety of habitats (Baltosser and Russell 2000).