Blue-Throated Mountain-Gem

Lampornis clemenciae

The Blue-Throated Mountain-Gem is the largest hummingbird species to nest in the United States. They are about three times heavier than the Ruby-Throated Hummingbird. And they assert their dominance at feeders and favored flower patches. 

These large hummingbirds were once called Blue-Throated Hummingbirds. But in 2019 taxonomists re-evaluated their family tree. They are members of the mountain-gem genus Lampornis, which includes seven other species found south of the United States. “Blue-Throated” was renamed so that all members of the genus (Lampornis) would have the same English name (Mountain-Gem).

The female Blue-Throated Mountain-Gem will give a special call that seems to tell the males that she is ready to mate. Then she takes a series of short display flights. This seems to tell the male she is ready for copulation. Male Blue-Throated Mountain-Gems do not have an aerial display.

Taxonomists recognized three subspecies.

  1. c. bessophilus breeds in Arizona and New Mexico south to Durango and Sinaloa. Northern populations are migratory, and fly south into Mexico for the winter season.
  2. c. phasmorus breeds in the Chisos Mountains in the Texas Big Bend region, and south probably as far as central and western Nuevo León in Mexico. After breeding, they migrate south, but their winter grounds are not well understood.
  3. c. clemenciae are believed to be resident from Mexico’s Central Plateau in Durango, Zacatecas and the Sierra Madre Oriental range from Nuevo León south to Oaxaca.

In 2023, as I was winding up my 8700 mile tour of eastern North America, I met one of these birds in Arizona. I was exploring Cave Creek, near the town of Portal, when a bright male settled on a perch not more than a dozen feet in front of me. Not long after spotting the bird, a male Rivoli’s Hummingbird (formerly Magnificent Hummingbird) showed up. Then a territorial dispute ensued. All I can say is it is a good thing hummingbirds are not ‘crow-sized’. We’d all be in trouble.

Range Map for Blue-Throated Mountain-Gem
Range Map

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