Adapted from Jim Conrad's
Naturalist Newsletter of July 20, 2007
issued from Sierra Gorda Biosphere Reserve,
QUERÉTARO, MÉXICO

LUCIFER HUMMINGBIRDS
IN MAGUEY FIELDS

Last Saturday morning I hitched a ride with the tree- planting fellows into the mountains southwest of Jalpan, to a few miles south of Pinal de Amoles. It was a hot, muggy morning in Jalpan but as we ascended the too-curvy road with me riding in the back of the truck the wind felt cooler and fresher with every mile.

Maguey, the giant agave from which the fermented drink pulque is made, grows on dry, eroded slopes in those highlands as well as in the hot Jalpan Valley, so as I roamed the area's backroads I passed plenty of it. A commonly occurring bird zipping among the maguey plants uttering high-pitched, excited-sounding twittering chips was the very pretty Lucifer Hummingbird, both sexes of which are shown close-up at http://www.woodley.ws/pages/Hummingbirds/LuciferHummingbird.htm.

The tiny male's most distinguishing features are his glittering, rose-pink-with-violet-blue-highlighted throat area, or gorget, plus his deeply forked tail. The female is much less spectacular with her green and black top, buff throat and belly, and normal tail.

Lucifer Hummingbirds are shown in North American field guides because the species' distribution barely extends into southern Texas and Arizona. Unlike most Mexican hummingbird species (about 65 species are listed), Lucifers are migratory, occurring in northern and central Mexico during the summer, and south- central Mexico during the winter.