Hummingbird ID vs other birds

I imagine most people here are pretty used to having their bird observations reach “Research Grade” rather quickly after upload, with many users eager to be the first to ID them as they pop up on feeds. I will sometimes upload batches of birds, reptiles, mammals, insects, and plants, and they tend to reach “Research Grade” in that order, with birds and reptiles being community-identified rather fast, and insects and plants taking significantly longer.

However, the one exception to this is my hummingbird observations. After all my other birds have been quickly identified, my hummingbird observations will sit at “Needs ID” for much longer and I’m trying to figure out why that would be. There are two hummingbird species that are observed near me, the more common Ruby-throated (Archilochus colubris) and the less common Black-chinned (Archilochus alexandri.) The ones of I’ve uploaded are female so the distinction between the two is subtle compared to the males of each species. That’s the only thing I can think of that might be delaying the ID. Does anyone with more knowledge of hummingbirds have any insight on this? Are the females of those two species too difficult to ID through image alone?


With a good photo of a female, showing important field marks such as wing shape, bill length, etc. It should definitely be possible to get an ID. It can get tricky with intermediate birds, and most of these aren’t identifiable without good photos of the wing.


It may be that, but it may also be that many eastern birders who only regularly see a single species have not taken the time to study and learn how to differentiate all the western ones. Fewer comfortable identifiers may slow it too.

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Looking through your observations I only see three RTH observations and these were confirmed fairly quickly. I don’t see any Black-chinned observations. However, I also have noticed that sometimes RTH’s observations in general are not confirmed as quickly as other avian species. I try to look through RTH observations on a fairly regular basis - looking for observations that haven’t been confirmed yet. Sometimes they appear to just have been overlooked, other times the quality of the pic is a factor. If you have an observation of anything that has not been confirmed you can always tag a few of the folks who are listed as leading identifiers for that species.

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Many hummingbirds are not at RG yet because they’re tricky and as some other groups you have to know or at least search for species list for the area, not everyone is ready to do that.


Yeah the time here is relative. Obviously it is still great to get a hummingbird ID after a day; it was just that compared to my other birds (which usually all get IDs in less than 5-10 minutes) it was a noticeable difference. Even when I go to the ‘Identify’ tab and filter it to bird observations in my county, it will be a mix of blurry birds that will likely never reach RG, and a lot of clear pictures of hummingbirds.

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