Super Mom

May 27, 2023  •  2 Comments

Walking on the Wild Side

Super Mom (Broad-tailed Hummingbird)
Super Mom (Broad-tailed Hummingbird)Super Mom (Broad-tailed Hummingbird)Did you know that the female of the species is the sole provider for the young from nest sitting to feeding? They often nest in the same spot year after year.

--broad-tailed hummingbird--

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Hummingbirds are simply amazing. These tiny birds can fly thousands of miles every year using tail winds to aid their flight. They migrate chasing abundant food sources with an uncanny ability to remember where to go. In fact they recall every flower and feeder they visit and know exactly how long it takes for a flower to refill its nectar. They are also known for returning to nest in the same location year after year. Hummingbird nests are not easy to locate because they are so small, measuring about one inch in diameter. In order to find one, one must first know they are present in the area and the habitat is right for nesting.


Our house in Colorado was located in the perfect habitat for the broad-tailed hummingbirds. We had other hummingbirds stop over for short visits but the broad-tails were summer residents known to nest in the area. For several years I just enjoyed watching them visit the feeders we put out. I would even practice taking their pictures now and then as small fast moving targets are excellent practice for a wildlife photographer. The summer of 2020 I decided to take on a bigger challenge by trying to locate a nest. My husband and I talked about how to best go about finding a nest. His recommendation was to hold off putting out the feeders when they first arrive and to just observe their flight patterns. Once I put my mind to it, using my observation skills and a good pair of binoculars, I was kind of surprised that it did not take me long to locate a nest. In fact the summer of 2020 was a break out year for locating bird nests for me. I would spend hours observing several different nests waiting for eggs to hatch and parents to arrive with food to feed their young This opened up a whole new world of documentary style photography for me that I continue to explore.



Here in Montana, there are five different species of hummingbirds that nest in our state. I have captured pictures of three of these species to date although some pictures were taken in Colorado. Pictured below is a female Calliope Hummingbird I captured with my camera at Tizer Botanic Gardens and Arboretum in Jefferson City, Montana.  They smallest of the species found here in North America.  I also have some pictures of a male calliope that I captured recently here in Helena.  I hope to find a nest this year as the female just showed up last week.   


  Ready- Set - Go (Calliope Hummingbird)Ready- Set - Go (Calliope Hummingbird)

Ready - Set - Go ( Calliope Hummingbird)

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Then there is the rufous hummingbird. The rufous is known for their vicious territorial defense taking on any other hummingbird in the area, no matter the size. This picture of a male of the species was taken in Colorado a few years ago. I love the coloration on this species which also makes the male easy to identify. 


Rusted ( Rufous Hummingbird)



I have many pictures of the broad-tailed hummingbird in my portfolio, but my most special hummingbird moment was capturing this leucistic broad-tailed hummingbird in Colorado. Leucism is the partial loss of pigmentation which does not impact the eyes.  This can occur across any species and is a rare sight so I was thrilled to have the chance to capture some photos.   

Leucistic Hummingbird  (Broad-tail Hummingbird)Leucistic Hummingbird (Broad-tail Hummingbird)Image Description: A rare find, this luecistic broad-tailed hummingbird drinks nectar from flowers.

Back Story: Seeing a white humming bird for the first time is an experience I will never forget. I was alerted by a friend about a white hummingbird feeding in her yard. Not wanting to pass up an opportunity to see and photograph one, I asked if I could come over to take some pictures. A hour and a half drive later, I arrived and found it was still there. Often, my first few pictures turn out to be my favorites as was the case here with the red backdrop making the white of the bird pop. Upon close examination of the photos I determined it to be a luecisitc humming bird, diagnosed by the normal coloration of eyes, beak and feet. With the help of some local biding experts the species was identified as a broad-tailed hummingbird.

Species: Broad-tailed Hummingbird ( Selasphorus platycercus )

Leucistic Hummingbird ( Broad-tailed Hummingbird)

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Now I will be on the search to capture the last two species found in Montana as time permits. The two species remaining here in Montana is the black-chinned and the ruby-throat. Wish me luck on my quests. 


Until next time,


Lea Frye - Wildlife Photographer



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Lea.F Images
Thank you Sue!
Sue Sulley(non-registered)
Indeed - best of luck in your search. Loved the story of nest finding...
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