[Tweeters] Possible Broad-billed Hummingbird in Tacoma

Mark Stackhouse mark at westwings.com
Sun Aug 21 13:36:48 PDT 2016


I saw the note on Tweeters about this bird, and took a look at the photo on the e-Bird checklist, and concur with Christopher Clark’s assessment that this is an Anna’s Hummingbird with an aberrant bill, and not a Broad-billed Hummingbird. I see far more Broad-billed than Anna’s in the course of a year, but plenty of both overall. In reality, nothing at all of this bird fits with Broad-billed Hummingbird, not even the bill color.

This bird’s bill is pink throughout, and Broad-billed never shows this color at any age. The red of the bill is a deep red, never pinkish. Female and juvenile Broad-billed have bills that are almost black for the entire length from above, and show red only at the base of the bill from below. Males have much more red, but still show darker along the culmen, especially towards the bill tip.

Furthermore, the short wings and tail, along with pale edges to the wing feathers, suggests to me that this is a recently fledged juvenile, even more problematic for a vagrant Broad-billed so far from its nesting range.

Other than the bill color (that doesn’t fit any species, really), everything looks fine for a juvenile Anna’s, that would be expected there.

In looking closely at the photo, there is a bit of black at the tip that stops abruptly where the pink begins. What it looks like to me is that something - disease, congenital defect, or injury/abrasion - has caused the hard covering of the bill (rhamphotheca) to be absent over most of the bill, exposing the pink epidermis below. Regardless, I think it’s easier to explain this bill anomaly than to try to turn this bird into a Broad-billed Hummingbird.

Hope this helps (and saves some a trip to Tacoma),


Mark Stackhouse
mark at westwings.com
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