Beak of the Week – Buff-bellied Hummingbird

Buff-bellied Hummingbird (Amazilia yucatanensis)
Family: Trochilidae

Like most hummingbirds, the Buff-bellied Hummingbird is primarily green, especially around the head and back. It has a rufous-colored tail and a buffy wash to its light underside, and its bill is distinctively reddish or orangey-red with a black tip. Weighing just under 5 grams (about as much as two sugar cubes), the Buff-bellied Hummingbird is actually one of the largest hummingbirds to visit the Houston area. It can be found and identified by its high-pitched twittering call, which it is known to give year-round, both while perched and in flight.

The Buff-bellied Hummingbird is commonly found in oak woodlands and brushy areas, but it also is a regular visitor to urban parks and gardens. While it has been known to breed in southern Texas, the Buff-bellied Hummingbird is unique among North American hummingbirds in that it disperses northward along the gulf coast during the winter – during the non-breeding season, you may even see a Buff-bellied Hummingbird visiting your feeder! While nectar or sugar-water can provide the energy these birds need, they will also feed on mosquitoes and other insects, which they often catch in mid-air.

By Aidan Healey, Conservation Technician, Houston Audubon
Photos by Greg Lavaty

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