U S Fish and Wildlife Service


Past Featured Pollinators:
  Allen's Hummingbird
  Buff-bellied Hummingbird
  Calliope Hummingbird
  Costa's Hummingbird
  Crested Honeycreepers
  Dakota Skipper
  El Segundo blue butterfly
  Karner blue butterfly
  Lesser long-nosed bat

Mexican long-nosed bat

  Mitchell’s Satyr
  Monarch Butterfly
  Rufous Hummingbird
  Rusty patched bumble bee
  Taylor's checkerspot butterfly
More Pollinators:
  Fringed Orchids and Hawkmoths

Fun Fact:

The northern populations are univoltine (have one generation per year, as described above). The southern populations can be bivoltine (have two generations per year).  The number of days that are above a certain temperature may determine whether a population is univoltine or bivoltine.



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Featured Pollinator

image of a Buff-bellied Hummingbird.
Buff-bellied Hummingbird highlighting its namesake buff colored belly (Photo: Alan Schmierer/CC0 1.0)

The Buff-bellied Hummingbird (Amazilia yucatanensis) is a large-sized tropical hummingbird residing along the Gulf Coast from Texas into Mexico. These birds are primarily nonmigratory, staying in the Gulf Coast region year-round, although small populations will migrate further east along the Gulf Coast after breeding season. This bird uses multiple habitats including humid coastal thorn scrub, oak forest woodlands and edges, as well as woodlands along water features in the Lower Rio Grande Valley. In addition to wild habitats, this bird also uses gardens and parks for food and habitat resources.

A unique feature of the Buff-bellied Hummingbird is the recorded movement from its breeding habitat in south Texas to the northeast. This dispersal to the north has not been seen in other North American hummingbird species.

image of Tropical sage.
Tropical sage (Salvia coccinea) (credit: Mary Klem CC BY-NC-SA 2.)

Buff-bellied Hummingbirds eat small insects and nectar. Just like other hummingbirds, they hover over plants by beating their wings rapidly and access the nectar of flowers with their long bill and extendable tongue. They rely on a variety of flowers for nectar, even those that do not look like classic hummingbird-attracting flowers. Native nectar flowers they visit include coral bean (Erythrina herbacea), Mexican olive (Cordia boissieri), tropical sage (Salvia coccinea), Texas ebony (Ebenopsis ebano), mesquite (Prosopis spp.), and anacua (Ehretia anacua). In times of drought or cold weather, such as during winter, these hummingbirds will use nonnative plants such as banana (Musa spp.) and hibiscus (Malvaviscus spp.) to supplement their diet. Both juveniles and adults frequent feeders and urban gardens.

In the U.S., Buff-bellied Hummingbirds breed along the southeastern Gulf Coast of Texas, often nesting in forks of twigs in small bushes and trees near woodland paths or roads. Nests are only about one and a half inches wide and are constructed with plant fibers, dried flower pieces, small bark shreds, and light colored lichens held in place with spider webs.

A female Buff-bellied Hummingbird usually lays two eggs in late spring through summer. The incubation period of the eggs and which sex cares for the young is unknown. Females are thought to be the caretakers based on the known behavior of other hummingbird species. Buff-bellied Hummingbirds have been known to live as long as nine years.

One danger to Buff-bellied Hummingbirds is feral cats, a major cause of mortality. Individuals in the northern parts of the wintering range can succumb to harsh winter storms since the species is sensitive to cold temperatures. Finally, loss of nesting habitat and nectar resources due to development, agriculture, and other land use change are concerns for this species. Although there has been widespread habitat destruction, this species has expanded northward and inland in Texas with the introduction of feeders and ornamental flowers.

Last Updated: June 17, 2019
June 17, 2019