Tuesday, August 17, 2010

A Berylline Hummingbird

Just now, the nest of a Berylline Hummingbird graces Cave Creek, next to the Stewart Campground bridge. The nest was discovered by a couple from Michigan (if you read this, please tell me your names!), then refound by Raymond VanBuskirk and Michael Hilchey. We've made a couple of pilgrimages to the spot, and Alan has shown the nest to other PortaleƱos.

The Berylline's nest is difficult to see, tucked amid the sycamore leaves. One good vantage point is from across the road, right in the campground entrance, where you'd be blocking camper traffic if there were traffic to block. Watch for the female to zip into the nest from a foraging foray.

Well-hidden nest of a Berylline Hummingbird (Photos by Narca)

Berylline Hummingbirds are among those species whose ranges seem to be expanding north from their stronghold in Mexico. In Arizona their initial discovery was in June 1964. Over the past couple of decades, they have become almost annual in the Huachuca, Santa Rita and Chiricahua Mountains. Their nesting efforts here, where Berylline partners are few, occasionally produce hybrids. Troy Corman in The Arizona Breeding Bird Atlas notes that the partner of several hybrids appears to have been a Magnificent Hummingbird.

In 1993, Alan and I found the first Berylline in New Mexico, a female visiting a feeder at our home next to the ranchhouse in Guadalupe Canyon. I spotted her from inside the cabin, at the same time that Alan spotted her from outside, and we both rushed to tell each other. Luckily, she roosted that night in a shrub right outside our window, and I was able to obtain this photo. (If the photo looks familiar, it's because Steve Howell used it in his superb book, Hummingbirds of North America: the Photographic Guide, and Rick Taylor used it in his just-released pocket guide, Birds of Southeastern Arizona.)

Female Berylline Hummingbird in Guadalupe Canyon, NM

The rancher for whom we were working didn't want us to tell anyone of the bird's presence until she had been gone for a month, as he feared the flood of birders that the sighting might bring to his doorstep.

Today the situation is very different. Beryllines are fairly easy to see in the Santa Rita Mountains at Madera Kubo and in the Huachuca Mountains at guesthouses like Beatty's Guest Ranch and Ash Canyon Bed & Breakfast, and thanks to these cordial proprietors, many a birder has savored this glittering avian gem.


  1. very cool picture. we were too early to see these guys so I guess we'll just have to come back to AZ.

    Rick, fargo,ND

  2. Warm thanks to AMC for taking me to see a female king eider in Monterey, for helping me practice driving, and in general for enduring me at Cal Berkeley over 50 years ago.

    Bless the birds and their habitats as well as you.

    Jack L. Yohay
    Mie-ken, Japan

  3. I was heading home back to NM from my birding trip & received the info on the nesting Berylline. Jackie was kind enough to give me a great map & I was able to find it fairly quick. What a wonderful site it was.
    Thanks for additional info on the blog.