Different Types of Hummingbirds

September 11, 2019 at 11:25 pm

There are over 350 different types or species of hummingbirds in the world. Most of these are known to live in different parts of Central and South America and only a handful of these species migrate. However, those that do migrate are known to have very good memories which is why they keep coming back to the same yards year after year. These tiny hummers are also the only birds with the ability to fly forward, backward as well as upside down! Another interesting fact about hummingbirds is that their brains take up 4.2% of their total weight and this happens to be the largest brain-to-body proportion in terms of weight in the whole of the Bird Kingdom (which is why they have such good memories?).

Hummingbird Species

Most Common Species/ Types of Hummingbirds

The most common types or species of these birds include the Ruby-Throated, Rufous, Broad-Tailed, Broad-Billed, Blue-Throated, Costa’s, Black-Chinned, Lucifer, Berylline, Buff-Bellied, Allen’s, Anna’s, Xantus’, Magnificent and the White-Eared hummingbirds. You may have also heard of White or Albino Hummingbirds, but technically, they do not constitute a separate species. Rather, they are the result of a very rare sort of mutation whereby the brood is born practically with no color to its feathers and this mutation can happen with any of the identified species.

Hummingbirds Found in North America

As mentioned, very few hummingbird species migrate but those that do normally spend the summer and part of the fall in different parts of North America—US and Canada (and a handful venture as far as to Alaska as well)—and return to Mexico and Central America to winter. In all, less than a couple of dozen of hummingbird species are known to migrate. Among these, there are five species that are most commonly found in North America. These are:

1. Ruby-Throated Hummingbird

These are one of the most common hummingbird species found in North America and especially east of the Mississippi. The name ruby-throated owes its origin to the males of the species that come with a vibrant ruby-red gorget, made even more prominent by a spacious white collar. The females lack the colorful gorget but come with the same attractive green feathers on the top. The females are also larger than the males and have rounded tails (in place of forked ones of the males).

The ruby-throated hummingbirds, especially the males, are known to be extremely territorial and aggressive. These birds love nectar feeders and are easily found in urban parks, gardens and backyards.

2. Anna’s Hummingbird

This is perhaps the only species of hummingbirds found in North America that don’t migrate to winter in Central or South America. Some of them spend all year in Canada, others in the Puget Sound area of Washington State. Those that stay in Canada all year round normally winter on Vancouver Island in British Columbia.

The males flaunt a gorgeous pink-red crown, have gray breasts and green backs. The females can be identified by their red-spotted throats and white-tipped tail feathers. Some of these species are also found in Newfoundland, Texas, Nevada, and Arizona.

3. Rufous Hummingbird
These birds are most commonly found in the states of Idaho, Oregon, Washington and British Columbia, though some fly as far as to Alaska. These birds have a strange migrating pattern as they will travel through California to areas along Northern Pacific Coast up to Canada and Southern Alaska and then return to Mexico to winter, covering almost 2,000 miles on their way back. Some of them also winter along the Gulf Coast in the southeastern United States.

You can easily recognize a male rufous by its iridescent orange-red patch on the throat and by their rufous or sometimes orange plumage. Adult females are slightly larger than males and have a green crown, a greenish back with a rufous wash over them and tail feathers with white tips on them. These birds are easily attracted to nectar feeders, but like the ruby-throated, they are extremely territorial and will drive away other birds from their preferred feeding sites. For this reason, you are better advised to hang multiple nectar feeders if you have rufous hummers visiting your backyard.

4. Costa’s Hummingbird

Perhaps the only species, besides the Anna’s, to spend all year-round in US. The Costa’s’ prefer arid desert areas and are commonly found in the desert regions of Arizona, Nevada and California while others live in the Baja California Peninsula of Mexico. The birds are easily recognizable by the males’ almost glowingly vibrant purple-pink cap and gorget that stretch in sharp points along the sides of their throat. The females come without the cap but otherwise look the same with their white underparts and the greenish-gray plumage.

As these birds prefer open, arid regions, they are not usually found at backyards, though some vagrants may venture out at the outer edges of the subrubs.

5. Allen’s Hummingbird

These birds look much the same as the rufous and it’s easy to confuse the two. However, the Allen’s hummers contain little sequin-like greens both on the head and on the back and the males have a dark copper-red throat. However, the two species take residents in very different parts of US. The Allen’s are commonly found in coastal Californian regions and in Oregon. They also migrate earlier than most other species, starting their journey north as early as in December.

Apart from the above, some other hummingbird species that are commonly found in North America include the Broad-Billed, Black-Chinned and the Violet-Crowned Hummingbirds.