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Common garden hummingbirds of North America

by Timber Press on August 18, 2013

in Design, Natural History


Rufous hummingbird taking nectar from trumpet honeysuckle (Lonicera sempervirens). Image: Dave Menke

Of the 19 hummingbird species that migrate in North America, only 8 species travel considerably north of the Mexican border. In the Far West, 7 species nest, 4 species nest in Canada, and only 1 species, the ruby-throated hummingbird, regularly nests in the eastern half of North America. These are some of the hummingbirds most commonly seen in North American gardens:

Costa’s hummingbird
One of the smallest hummingbirds, the male is distinguished by its brilliant iridescent purple crown and throat. It is common in desert areas of southern California, Arizona, and Nevada. In midsummer, the birds migrate from the hot desert regions to scrublands and chaparral. They are resident in the far South and Southwest, extending their range in summer to include Utah and Nevada.


Joshua tree provides shelter and nesting sites for many birds including Costa’s hummingbird. Image: Bill Bouton

Ruby-throated hummingbird
The only hummingbird regularly seen east of the Mississippi River. The male has a brilliant, iridescent metallic red throat. The birds arrive in coastal areas in late February or early March, and by mid-November their fall migration is completed.

Ruby-throated hummingbird taking nectar from bee balm (Monarda didyma). Image:

Ruby-throated hummingbird taking nectar from bee balm (Monarda didyma). Image: Raymond Gobis

Anna’s hummingbird
The only hummingbird to regularly winter in the United States, in California. The male has a brilliant pink-red iridescent crown and throat. Some birds migrate as far north as British Columbia and as far south as Arizona and Texas, returning to California in December. Common in open woodland, chaparral, scrubby areas, and gardens.

Anna’s hummingbird probing for insects among the grapes. Image: Michael J. Pazzani

Anna’s hummingbird probing for insects among the grapes. Image: Michael J. Pazzani

Allen’s hummingbird
A common, breeding bird in a narrow coastal strip of California. The male arrives in January and departs as early as mid-May, while the female is still raising young. The males arrive in their winter grounds in Mexico as early as August. The male Allen’s hummingbird is similar in appearance to the rufous hummingbird.

Black-chinned hummingbird
A summer visitor to British Columbia and south along the Pacific Coast, east to the Rocky Mountains, and south to Mexico and Texas. It is present in Arizona from March to September and in Texas from March to August.

Black-chinned hummingbird feeding on Texas betony (Stachys coccinea).

Black-chinned hummingbird feeding on Texas betony (Stachys coccinea). Image: Richard Ingram/Hawkman

Broad-billed hummingbird
Summers in southern Arizona, southwestern New Mexico, and western Texas.

Broad-tailed hummingbird
The common nesting hummingbird of the Rocky Mountains in Idaho, Montana, and Wyoming, and southward. Generally arrives in mid-May.

Calliope hummingbird The smallest North American hummingbird, it summers in the mountains of western North America. It nests from May to July in the Cascade Range, Sierra Nevada, and Rocky Mountains, and north into central British Columbia.

Female calliope hummingbird sharing the nectar-rich flowers of Parry’s beardtongue (Penstemon parryi) with a Mexican yellow butterfly. Image:

Female calliope hummingbird sharing the nectar-rich flowers of Parry’s beardtongue (Penstemon parryi) with a Mexican yellow butterfly. Image: Charles Melton

Rufous hummingbird
The only hummingbird that summers in Alaska and the southern Yukon Territory, southward to northwestern California and southern Idaho, arriving in California between late February and early March.


George Adams is an avid birdwatcher, a landscape designer, a wildlife artist, and a photographer. Please say hello to George on his Facebook Page.


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“If you own only one book about attracting birds — Gardening for the Birds has all the useful information you will need to create your own bird sanctuary in your own garden.” —Noelle Johnson, Birds & Blooms Blog

1 Shirley Swenson October 14, 2013 at 9:46 pm

Would like to inquire if there is anyone who will come to our Fuchsia Club and Speak to our members on Humming Birds? Is there any information on any people who do this? can you get me in touch with any people interested in doing this?

Thank you for any help you can give me
Shirley Swenson

2 Brian Ridder October 15, 2013 at 10:03 am

Hi Shirley,
I’ve sent you an email in answer to your question.

3 Nancy Masterson March 31, 2015 at 9:00 pm

The Guadalupe Chapter of the Native Plant Society of Texas requests permission to use the photograph by Richard Ingram/Hawkman Photography of the black-chinned hummingbird feeding on the Texas betony in a brochure, with credit. We are a non-profit that educates our community about native plants and their importance to wildlife such as hummingbirds. Do you wish to be listed as:

Richard Ingram/Hawkman Photography, Timber Press.
Nancy Masterson, Seguin, Texas

4 Brian Ridder April 1, 2015 at 9:46 am

Hi Nancy,
We’re replying via email.

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