Verification of Unusual Sight Record
For Utah

Rec. # 201

Common name:

Magnicicent Hummingbird

Scientific name: Eugenes fulgens
Date: 26 Aug 2012
Time: 7:30 p.m.
Length of time observed: 3 minutes
Number: 1
Age: Adult
Sex: Female, or immature male
Location: Holladay, Utah, suburban backyard
County: Salt Lake
Elevation: 4545 feet
Distance to bird: 20 feet
Optical equipment: Leica 10x40 binoculars
Weather: Warm, 80 deg. F, clear
Light Conditions: Late daylight
Description:        Size of bird: Approx. 5" long
(Description:)       Basic Shape: Typical hummingbird shape
(Description:)  Overall Pattern: Greenish back, dark wings, grayish underpartss
(Description:)            Bill Type: Long, ever so slightly decurved
Field Marks and
Identifying Characteristics:
Larger than usual hummingbirds to my feeders. Very long, black bill, slightly decurved. Much longer than all other expected hummingbirds except for Black-chinned. Very strongly marked dark streak that extended downward and backward from the eye, much more so than I've seen in Black-chinned Hummers. Small white spot behind the eye. No white stripe on malar aspect that would be present on Blue-throated Hummingbird. Unlike Black-chinned Hummingbirds, this bird did not pump the tail while hovering at the feeder. Tail extended beyond wings by 1/8 inch, with tiny white spots on corners.
Song or call & method of delivery: No vocalizations.
Behavior: Hovered at the feeder, darted in and out; did not perch on the feeder edges.
Habitat: My suburban backyard, grape vines, numerous trees, tomato and zucchini plants, several other types of feeders.
Similar species and how
were they eliminated:
Elimination: Black-chinned Hummingbird - bill was the same length and shape. Has the habit of pumping tail while hovering. The dark cheek patch (streak) present on the object bird is so much more prominent than Black-chinneds. There were several female Black-chinneds also around the feeder both before and after this sighting, none of which had the dark face streaking. Female Blue-throated Hummingbirds have a prominent white streak both in front of and behind the cheek patch. All other expected hummingbirds have much shorter bills.
Previous experience with
this & similar species:
I've seen numerous Magnificent Hummingbirds in Arizona, Texas, and Mexico. Very familiar with Black-chinned Hummingbirds.
References consulted: Handbook of Birds of the World; Sibley, Western Birds; National Geographic Birds of NA; National Geographic Complete Birds of NA; Stokes Field Guide; Smithsonian Field Guide; Kaufman Field Guide;
Description from: Notes taken at time of sighting
Observer: Steve Carr
Observer's address: 2801 E. 5140 South, Holladay, Utah 84117
Observer's e-mail address: **
Other observers who independently identified this bird: None
Date prepared: 26 August 2012
Additional material:  
Additional_Comments: When I first saw the bird come to the feeder, I was struck by the size, somewhat larger than the Black-chinneds that come and go. Then, the very dark cheek patch (streak) that extended from the eye downward and slightly posteriorly was so much different from the Black-chinneds, even though the bills were both long and black. My initial reaction was that it was a Blue-throated Hummer, with its dark cheek patch, but the lack of white stripes on either side of the patch eliminated it. Then, the absence of tail-pumping, which is so noticeable with the Black-chinneds, was obvious. I didn't dare run and get my camera, knowing that the bird would probably be gone when I returned. I spent the whole 3 minutes absorbing the field marks as best I could. The bird did not return by the time darkness set in.

(13 Sep 2012) Additional comments by the observer, Steve Carr:

After observing the bird for 2-3/4 - 3 minutes at the feeder, I consulted all the references that I included in the sighting, and shortly after submitted my report. An hour or so after, I saw from my notes that I should have included a couple of other observations. Here are some addenda to my sighting:

1- That particular day and week I generally had 3-4 Black-chinned Hummers, immature males and/or females, one adult male, and one Rufus Hummer, constantly chasing each other away from the feeder. The entire time that this newcomer was at the feeder, none of the local hummers came down to challenge it, so I was unable to tell the size differentiation immediately. After the newcomer left, never to return again, the locals came back, chasing, etc. At that time I tried to tell the sizes compared to the newcomer, and, compared to the size of the feeder, all I could discern was that the supposed Mag. Hummer was about 20-25 percent larger and quite a bit more robust than the locals.

2- The white spot behind the eye was larger than the tiny white dot on the Black-chinneds, and was slightly longer toward the tail than it was in width.

3- The underparts were a decided darker shade of gray than the very pale gray underparts of the Black-chinneds.

4- The time of year of the sighting was commensurate with the other sightings in Utah - practically all ranging from the middle of June to the end of August. National Geographic Complete Birds states - "Vagrant: Casual west to CA, north (mainly late summer) to UT and WY, exceptionally MI. . . ."

Hopefully, this can help you in your determinations.