Broad-billed Hummingbird
Goleta, Santa Barbara County
17 January 1999
Joseph Morlan

Today Guy McCaskie, Dan Singer, Steve Rottenborn and I decided to look for various rarities staked out in the Santa Barbara area. After good luck with the Broad-tailed Hummingbird at Hope Ranch and brief views of the Rusty Blackbird at the dump, we tried for the female Broad-tailed Hummingbird which had been along San Jose Creek behind the tennis courts on Kellogg Avenue since November 28, 1998.

Soon my attention was attracted to the distinctive chattering call of this species from deep within some flowering vegetation above the creek. Eventually the bird moved and I got close but fairly brief views in average light.

It was a rather drab bird, with blue-green iridescent upperparts and rather dingy gray sides and flanks. It was about the size and shape of an Anna's Hummingbird, but with a much longer, somewhat curved bill. A white spot was visible behind the eye. I looked for any color on the lower mandible, but was not able to see any under the light conditions I had. The bill appeared all dark.

Guy McCaskie had seen the bird higher in the bush and said it had some color at the base of the bill. Later Steve Rottenborn got more distant views in good light and said there was a small area of pink at the base of the mandible. Dan Singer also saw the bird well, but in rather poor light and did not see any color on the bill.

For me the main identification feature was the voice which was similar in quality to that of Ruby-crowned Kinglet, but dryer and with a faster cadence. I originally located the bird by its voice and later heard it calling from deep within the bush, before it reappeared.

Finally the bird then flew to the top of a tall tree and then headed over to the other side of the creek which was inaccessible.