Seeing hummingbirds in flight is a rare treat! They are acrobatic, with the ability to soar backward and change direction rapidly!
Hummingbirds are seasonal species in Illinois. Nonetheless, if you plan the right timing, you will be lucky enough to see them in the Land of Lincoln. You will find at least eight types of hummingbirds in the state. Even if their population is not as diverse as other birds, identification can be a struggle.
We are here to make your life easy! Read on as we walk you through the popular hummingbird species that Illinois residents can see.
- Identifying The Most Common Hummingbirds in Illinois
- Watch This!
- Frequently Asked Questions
Identifying The Most Common Hummingbirds in Illinois
1. Rufous Hummingbird
Tiny but feisty, the rufous hummingbird is a long-distance migrant. They can travel up to 4,000 miles one way, making them among the longest-migrating Illinois birds of their size.
One of the easiest ways to identify a male rufous hummingbird is through its bright orange back and belly. Below its iridescent red throat, you will find a white breast.
On the other hand, females have a greenish-brown back, whitish belly, and rusty sides.
The rufous hummingbird is named after their rufous tail feathers. In case you do not know, rufous is a reddish-brown color.
Rufous hummingbirds are not too common in Illinois, but you can occasionally find them in Chicago before the hummingbird migration.
In spring, they will migrate north as they head to the Pacific Coast. Meanwhile, in late summer and fall, rufous hummingbirds head to the Rocky Mountains.
Because it flies a lot, rufous hummingbirds are ferocious eaters, so they can have the energy necessary to sustain their travel.
They have a high protein diet, which they get mostly from insects. They will also eat sucrose-rich nectar from a wide array of flowers.
2. Ruby-Throated Hummingbird
Compared to other hummingbird species on this list, ruby-throated hummingbirds are more abundant in the state.
Can you guess the most prominent physical characteristic of this hummingbird? Clue: It’s in the name.
It is most recognizable through its bright red throat. However, you can find them only in males. Meanwhile, both males and females will have white plumage with green feathers.
Ruby-throated hummingbirds are the only breeding hummingbirds you will find in North America. After breeding, they will start their migration to South and Central America.
You will see a ruby-throated hummingbird in the garden sipping nectar from one source to another. It will also catch insects midair or in spider webs.
If you want to see a ruby-throated hummingbird in The Prairie State, go to woodland edges or flowering gardens. In towns, these Illinois hummingbirds are common in nectar feeders.
3. Broad-billed Hummingbird
Like most other hummingbirds on this list, the name of the broad-billed hummingbird is a clue to what it looks like. It has long and broad bills, especially males.
As for the color, broad-billed hummingbirds have a bright green body. They have glittering sapphire throats and vivid red bills, which will make them stand out.
You can see these birds foraging in mountain meadows and canyon streams.
At times, they will also visit a hummingbird feeder in your backyard. To attract hummingbirds to your property, make sure that you have sugar water and insects.
Broad-billed hummingbirds are accidental species of hummingbirds in Illinois. The rare sightings were recorded in Chicago, Peoria, and Springfield.
They are more common in southern Arizona and southwest New Mexico. Their presence was also recorded in some parts of California and Texas.
4. Allen’s Hummingbird
The appearance of Allen’s hummingbird is highly like a rufous hummingbird. One of the key differences is that the latter has a reddish-brown tail, rump, and back while the former has a green rump and back while the tale is also reddish-brown.
Allen’s hummingbirds are rare and accidental species in Illinois.
In the last decade, there have been no recorded sightings, so it is a challenge to find them in the state. While they are restrictive in Illinois, they are common in Southern California where it is a year-round resident. You can also see them in New Mexico and Oregon.
The diet of Allen’s hummingbirds is mostly nectar, especially from tubular flowers. Insects also make up most of their food sources.
5. Black-Chinned Hummingbird
Small and slender, black-chinned hummingbirds have a straight bill. They have a dull metallic green upper body and grayish-white lower body.
The appearance varies depending on gender. Males will sport a velvet-black throat with an iridescent purple base. Meanwhile, females have a paler throat.
One of the most common characteristics of these species of hummingbird is that they perch very high, which allows them to be distant from intruders.
Black-chinned hummingbirds are rare sightings in Illinois. They will migrate mostly to the southern part of the country. In the winter, they will travel to Mexico.
6. Broad-Tailed Hummingbird
While they are tiny, broad-tailed hummingbirds are considered medium-sized when compared to other species of hummingbirds. On average, they have a length of 3.1 to 3.5 inches.
Adult males are easily recognizable with their rose-magenta gorget or throat patch. Immature males and females (both immature and adults), however, will have a green spot on the throat. When they spread their tails when flying, you can see white tail feathers.
In the garden, parks, and other places, you can see broad-tailed hummingbirds hovering from one flower to another.
The common sound that they make while zipping through flowers is a metallic trill, which is produced by their wings.
7. Anna’s Hummingbird
Native to California, you will also find Anna’s hummingbirds in Illinois, but they are considered accidental species.
A stocky hummingbird, it has a broad tail and a straight and short bill. The head and throat of males are covered in reddish-pink iridescent feathers, but they are dull in the absence of direct sunlight. On the other hand, the throat of females is gray with scattered red spots.
In the winter, Anna’s hummingbird will eat mostly insects, including gnats. They will also eat sand and ashes, providing the essential minerals that they need to survive the challenging climate.
Anna’s hummingbird was named after Anna Massena, the Duchess of Rivoli. She was also a generous science patron.
8. Mexican Violetear
These hummingbirds are green throughout their body but with a bright blue chest patch and cheek. In low-light conditions, they look black.
Like the other hummingbirds on this list, they will also eat nectar, sugar water, and insects. It has been more than a decade since the presence of a Mexican violetear has been recorded in the state, so there is a slim chance that you can still see this hummingbird in Illinois.
You can find a Mexican violetear in the canopies of subtropical zones. They prefer areas with high altitudes and humidity.
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Frequently Asked Questions
What kind of hummingbirds do we have in Illinois?
Some of the most common hummingbirds that you will find in Illinois are the following (all of which are seasonal species):
- Rufous hummingbirds
- Ruby-throated hummingbird
- Broad-billed hummingbird
- Allen’s hummingbird
- Black-chinned hummingbird
- Broad-tailed hummingbird
- Anna’s hummingbird
- Mexican violetear
When should you put out hummingbird feeders in Illinois?
Hummingbirds come to Illinois from May to October; hence, this is the time to bring out the feeders to attract them to your backyard. There are no resident species in the state, so most of the hummingbirds migrate before the end of October and head to Central America or Southern Mexico.
How do I attract hummingbirds in Illinois?
One of the most effective ways of attracting hummingbirds is to have tubular flowers, specifically those with orange and red hues. Hanging red ribbons in a feeder and tree will also help. The presence of a nearby water source can also be effective, as well as putting a protein and insect feeder.
Where do hummingbirds nest in Illinois?
The nesting locations of hummingbirds will vary from one type to another. Many of them love nesting in high canopies such as rufous hummingbirds. On the other hand, species like broad-billed hummingbirds prefer nesting low on the ground.
From their acrobatic flights to colorful plumage, hummingbirds are some of the most beautiful feathered friends you will see in the Prairie State. Whether you like to attract them to feeding stations in your backyard or photograph them in the wild, the right timing is crucial. They will move to Illinois from May to October. After which, they will migrate south.
Is there any other hummingbird in Illinois that you would like to add to the list? Let us know what we should be eyeing next time!