There are around 15 types of hummingbirds seen in the United States. A few live year-round in the U.S., but many come into the United States from Mexico and other areas from the south.
Probably the most widespread and the most notable of all the types of hummingbirds is the Ruby-throated Hummingbird. It is notable because it populates the entire eastern half of the United States during the warm months. In the fall this tiny bird, just over 3 inches big, flies 500-600 miles south to Mexico or Central America for the winter. Then in the spring they fly the long way back to the area where they were hatched. These tiny jewels certainly are one of God’s amazing gifts.
The male Ruby-throat as his name implies has a ruby-red throat, gorget. The top of his head, back and sides are greenish. His underside is whitish. His dark tail is deeply notched in the center.
The female’s dark tail is not notched, but it has white on the ends of the outside corners. Her throat and under parts are whitish. The top of her head and back are greenish. There may be fine spots on her throat. The immature males resemble the females.
The female Ruby-throat builds her nest 10’ to 20’ off the ground, usually under a branch and over an open area or water.
She lays two eggs about the size of a navy bean. She incubates the eggs for 14 to 16 days. And then feeds the baby hummers regurgitated nectar and bugs for abut 21 days before the babies take off on their own.
My Missouri sister says they can tell the babies at the feeder by their fluffy white bottoms. They don’t have to have feathers on their bottoms to fly, so that is one of the last areas to grow their feathers.
In the fall, August to September depending on exactly where they live, the adults head south for the winter. The juveniles hang back and eat and then head south weeks after the older hummingbirds have already left. Then in the spring March to April, they all fly back to the same area they left in the fall. They remember where the feeders and flowers were where they ate last year. More hummingbird facts
The Anna’s Hummingbird is found on the west coast of the United States from Canada to Mexico. In the winter it may range over across the southern edge of Arizona to western Texas. It moves from the lowland gardens and the mountains in the summer to the deserts in the winter. It is slightly larger than the Ruby-throat and has a bulkier looking body. It often nests in Oak Trees.
Using my husband's photograph of a ruby-throat sitting on the feeder's perch for reference I changed the Ruby-throat to an Anna's Hummingbird. The male Anna has a flared rose colored gorget, and also the same color on his head. This coloring distinguishes it from the Ruby-throat which has only a red colored gorget with a green head. This is not one of the most common types of hummingbirds, but they certainly are beautiful.
The western counterpart of the Ruby-throat is the Black-chinned Hummingbird. These two types of hummingbirds are similar in appearance except instead of a ruby-throat the males have a black chin and their throat is a beautiful violet. Their tail is notched and their bill is slightly down curved. The top of their head, back and sides are greenish. The females also have greenish backs and heads with white chins and under parts. They may have fine specks on their throat. Other than her down curved bill she looks very much like a female Ruby-throat. Her wings are a little bit longer.
The female builds her nest by herself in trees or large shrubs often in the fork of small limbs. The nest is only about 1 ½” in diameter. She lays 2 eggs that hatch in about 16 days. When the babies have feathers the mother will often build another nest within sight of the first next to raise another set of babies. What a hard worker, she does it all by herself. But, it is great for keeping the species going.
The Costa's Hummingbird has similar coloring to the violet throat of the Black-chinned. However the blue-violet gorget of the Costa is flared and his head is the same color.
This type of hummingbird is found in some desert areas of Nevada, Arizona, and California. They prefer the dry areas and build their nests far from water.
They often build their nests in cacti and yuccas. The Costa makes good use of the dry desert areas. I did this painting of a Costa's going to a Prickly Pear cactus flower.
The Rufous Hummingbird true to it’s name is rufous (a rusty orange color). The male has a bright orange-red gorget. His back, tail and sides are rufous color. They may have some green flecks on their head and back. The female has rusty color on her sides and under her tail. She has small red to green-gold spots on her throat. The Rufous is easy to identify because their rusty, rufous color is lacking in most other types of hummingbirds.
They are fairly numerous from Alaska to Mexico and in between. They live from the mountains to the lowlands. Some may winter on the gulf coast. A few have been sighted farther east late in the season.
You can hear them talking with a loud chirp and chatter when they come to your feeder. They are one of the noisy types of hummingbirds.
The White-eared Hummingbird is a less frequent visitor to the United States. It lives in Mexico and South America, but sometimes comes to southern Arizona, New Mexico and is seen breeding there. It is rarely seen in west Texas.
Both male and female have a white stripe behind the eye. It's red bill has a black tip. The male has purplish on it’s head and chin and a green gorget. The female has greenish spots on her throat.
The Calliope Hummingbird is seen in subalpine forests, especially near streams of southern Alberta and British Columbia. They are fairly numerous in British Columbia through Montana, Idaho, Washington, Wyoming, Nevada or eastern California. They are often seen feeding on flowers in the in alpine meadows. They however are not seen in the coastal areas except sometimes the coast of western Texas, Arizona, and New Mexico.
They have a shorter bill than some other hummers. They have long reddish purple feathers on their gorget which they are able to flare out. Their white neck shows in between the long gorget feather.
The Broad-billed Hummingbirds are seen in Arizona, New Mexico, western Texas, and Mexico. Many hummers have dark bills, but the Broad-bill has a red bill with a dark tip. The male has a dark metallic green body, but in poor light it will look black. His throat is a beautiful blue. The female is green above with light gray under parts. I painted him with a reddish flower which are great for your own hummingbird garden.
An unusual visitor to southern Florida is the Bahama Woodstar Hummingbird. It normally lives in the Bahamas, but is one of the types of hummingbirds occasionally seen in Florida.
The female has a white chin and chest, cinnamon underside a green back and a rusty tail.
You are sure to see at least one of these common types of hummingbirds where you live in the United States.
Plant some flowers to attract the hummers to your yard.
And put out a feeder to feed the hungry hummingbirds and see what types of hummingbirds come to your yard.