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Hummingbirds in Texas: Guide To Our 11 Favorite Species

Hummingbird in a feeder

Last Updated: September 20, 2022

Some people have this passionate interest in hummingbirds, admiring their beauty in various forms. It's not surprising how John Audubon refers to these creatures as a glittering garment of the rainbow.

Therefore...

With the given diversity of this species, you might wonder what hummingbirds in Texas you can probably encounter during a birding activity.

It would even be nicer to know how to attract hummingbirds to your space. Read on and brace yourself for an astonishing discovery about every hummingbird species in Texas.

Different Types Of Hummingbirds In Texas

Identifying birds that you come across while outdoors or in your backyard is at the heart of birdwatching. Texas' diverse bird species makes birding seem complex, despite its simplicity.

South Texas alone has over 250 different birds; you can find 18 recorded hummingbird species all around the state.

So, let's get you some relevant information to understand the basics better. Your consistent bird identification knowledge will help make birdwatching activities more enjoyable for you.

Here are some of the hummingbirds of Texas that you might encounter in one of your birding escapades:

1. Ruby-Throated Hummingbird

Ruby-Throated Hummingbird on a flower plant

This hummingbird is a summer resident in East Texas and a familiar breeder in North Texas. It has a breeding history as far as San Antonio and Tom Green county.

You will quickly notice it for its long slender bill, perfect for acquiring nectar from tubular flowers, like a hummingbird bush or a cardinal flower.

Experts noted that this type of bird forages on at least 31 plant species, being the only bird pollinator in a significant part of North America.

Its upper body has a metallic bronze-green shade, with males having brilliant orange-red throats and white chests. However, the male's throat can sometimes look black due to light angles. The females have their throats white with rounded tails and buff-washed to white underparts.

This hummingbird is fiercely aggressive when defending even single nectar; you might also see it safeguarding its territory while perching on a tree. It uses energy from fat reserves for migrating in a nonstop flight towards the Gulf of Mexico in winter.


2. Buff Bellied Hummingbird

Buff Bellied Hummingbird perched on a twig

This Texas hummingbird is an accidental bird breeding in the lower Rio Grande valley, Cameron, and Hidalgo counties of South Texas through eastern Mexico.

Its central tail feathers are greenish and distinctly bronze-colored toward the tip. The bird's abdomen has a pale-cinnamon buff shade; it has a rosy red bill, dark brown iris, and dull brown feet.

When in Texas, you can find this creature along streams, resacas, and gullies, among dense thickets and flowering bushes at the northern margin of its range. But its kind is more abundant in clearings within a deciduous forest and moderately rich rainforests.

Despite this species wandering north after the breeding season, it occurs in Texas throughout the year. But it rarely strays towards the coast and the Edwards Plateau from the east. It favors native flowers in spring and summer and shares flowers with other hummingbirds in winter.


3. Rufous Hummingbird

Rufous Hummingbird flying towards a plant

The rufous is among the hummingbirds in Texas that you will rarely see during the fall season over the western plateau. Its kind typically breeds in South and Central Texas. You can find this bird inhabiting streamsides, woodlands, gardens, and meadows.

You are more likely to encounter it lingering in a hummingbird feeder or secured coastal regions during winter.

There was a study showing that this kind of hummingbird which flowers they had already visited. It will eventually revisit the same flower after two to three hours. Researchers find this bird to have complex feeding patterns to take full advantage of their territories.

This bird prefers feeding on red-flowering eucalyptus, geranium, and coral honeysuckle, to name a few.

Besides, Rufous is a very territorial bird; it uses its aggressiveness to fuel its long migrations, which take a minimum of 3,500 miles. You will recognize this bird with its reddish head and body; its tail and flanks are also red and with an all-black bill.

The bird seems like a bright red gem or glowing fire when it starts to spread its gorgeous ruff. In addition to its brilliant scarlet shade, a rufous hummingbird also features a green crown and white breast. It is rather loud that you will sense its belligerence even when migrating.


4. Calliope Hummingbird

Calliope Hummingbird sitting on a branch

Like the rufous hummingbird, a Calliope also shows a slender and rounded body shape. It has a metallic green back and head and a short bill. A male's throat has a dark red to purplish shade, while a female's throat is white, and its chest to the abdomen is grayish.

It is the smallest breeding hummingbird in North America and the smallest bird worldwide.

Bright red flowers attract the Calliope. Its diet includes monkeyflower, manzanita, paintbrush, hawthorn, sage, and small flying insects. You can also find it inhabiting the mountains, rivers, meadows, or some rocky slopes with pine and conifer forests nearby.

This Texas hummingbird seldom migrates across the region. But in rare instances, you might see it hanging around in a hummingbird feeder in winter. Likewise, this bird has no record of being in the state during springtime.


5. Lucifer Hummingbird

Lucifer Hummingbird flying towards a flower

Lucifer hummingbird females and young males have creamy underparts washed with cinnamon. A male adult has a green-colored back and crown, white underside, and a metallic purple throat with very long feathers around that area. You will notice that both sexes have long, arched bills.

Some often mistake this bird with the Costas Hummingbird because both species have iridescent purple throats. You can tell them apart by their crowns as Lucifer Hummer has adult males with green crowns. The Costa's males' crowns have a purple shade.

The only regions where you can find this bird in the United States are in the Big Bend area in Texas and southeastern Arizona.

There were also notable sightings of this hummingbird along the Guadalupe Mountains and El Paso County, and a chance fall traveler in the Texas Hill Country. Sometimes, you may also encounter this lovely bird in the Davis Mountains as a post-breeding visitor.

Furthermore, you'll find that this bird enjoys exploiting the nectar of its favorite flowers, such as sage, lupine, and agave.

It mostly dwells in Texas parks or any environment rich in its preferred flowers. Otherwise, you can find this Texas hummingbird in gardens, scrublands, and canyons.


6. Black-Chinned Hummingbird

Black-Chinned Hummingbird in flight

If you want to see a significant number of this hummingbird breeding in Texas, you can pay a visit to the reputable Hummer House in Christoval. It houses thousands of hummingbirds, with many birds native to the region, and some are only migrating when the seasons change.

West Texas Avian Research considers the location a popular birding spot due to the slightly extensive north to south river, a hummingbird's migratory route.

This widespread hummingbird occurs in various habitats, including woodlands close to rivers and streams or irrigated orchards. Its Texas spring migration starts from mid to late March through early May.

You may find it casually visiting the Hill Country during winter, too, as this species is among the wintering hummingbirds in the state. To boot, watch for this bird's spectacular dive display; I'm sure you wouldn't want to miss it flying up to 15 to 20 feet.

Its male has a black throat to the sides of the head with iridescent borders. Look for the slightly-forked tail if the iridescent part is not visible. It also has a grayish-green back and a slightly curved bill. Females look like ruby-throated hummers, except for their duller plumages.


7. Broad Tailed Hummingbird

Broad Tailed Hummingbird feeding on a hummingbird mint

Broad-tailed hummingbirds are familiar summer residents in Guadalupe and the Chisos Mountains. It is also among the winter hummingbirds that benefit from feeders, although you will rarely see this birdie over the Edwards Plateau in spring and fall.

Spring migrants arrive between late March and late May, while fall migrants start showing up between late July and early November. It mainly feeds on sage, yucca, gilia, agave, iris, and bee balm and inhabits woodlands, gardens, streamsides, and mountain slopes.

Although this bird shows a preference for open areas, it won't trade it for a secured shelter.

William Swainson first coined its name when he described this genus in 1831. It is among the wild birds with a medium-sized body. The males have brilliant red chins and throats with backs and heads in lustrous green shades, white to gray upper chests, and gray to brown abdomens.

Females and young males have paler plumages, except their tails, barred in green, rufous, black, and white. You will know that you're in the same area as this bird when you hear its distinct trilling sound from its primary wing feathers.


8. White Eared Hummingbird

White Eared Hummingbird on a tree

You might occasionally have a chance of encountering a white-eared hummingbird in the Davis Mountains Preserve around July to August. It is an accidental bird that you will rarely see in Texas.

Its male has a bold purplish-blue head, contrary to the female and juvenile's green-colored crowns. Males are also barely sizable than the females, with rich green shades and white tips on the outer feathers of their tails. These males also bear black marks on their cheeks.

The male bird of this kind displays territorial behavior around good nectar sources and will chase away even larger species.

However, unlike other hummingbirds, this creature shows no distinct preference for red flowers.

It also prefers to inhabit coniferous and pine-oak forests, mountain slopes, and canyons. Besides extracting insects from various flowers, this rare visitor catches insects in flight.


9. Magnificent Hummingbird

Magnificent Hummingbird flying in summer

This bird, also previously well-known as the Rivolis Hummingbird, has the longest bill of all hummer species in America's northern part.

The inspiration for its former name is the Duke of Rivoli, Francois Massena, husband of Rivoli's princess, Belle Massena, where Annas hummingbird got its name.

The Duke has a prominent reputation for his love of natural history, especially birds; hence, the Hummer's name is in his honor.

The back of its male has a dark-green shade with a purple crown, blackish underside, and the throat has a vivid hue of green. The female's back has the same color as the male's, with a green head, grayish underside, and spots on the throat.

Aside from males and females having the same back color, each also has a white eye stripe. It also inhabits regions abundant in thistles, honeysuckle, salvias, penstemons, and agave. This bird's first sighting in Texas was way back on May 24 to 26, 1959, in San Antonio.

Watch this video all about Magnificent Hummingbirds:


10. Buff Bellied Hummingbird

Buff Bellied Hummingbird

Unlike the black-bellied hummers that are most common in the central part of America, broad-tailed hummingbirds are familiar summer residents in the northern hemisphere. You can find it in Fort Davis, Guadalupe, and the Chisos Mountains.

The southernmost part of the plateau had at least four sightings of the Buff-bellied hummingbird in the area. It is rarely over the Edwards Plateau in spring and fall. Spring migrants arrive between late March and May, while fall migrants arrive between July and early November.

Although this creature shows a preference for open areas, it won't trade it for a secured shelter.

William Swainson first coined its name when he described this genus in 1831. It is among the wild birds with a medium-sized body. The males have brilliant red chins and throats with backs and heads in lustrous green shades, white to gray upper chests, and gray to brown abdomens.

Females and young males have paler plumage, except their tails, barred in green, rufous, black, and white. You will know that you're in the same area as this bird when you hear its distinct trilling sound from its primary wing feathers. It mainly feeds on sage, yucca, gilia, and agave.


11. Mexican Violetear

Mexican Violetear on a twig

It is typical to spot this hummingbird somewhere in Central Mexico, Central America, and the southern hemisphere. But in Texas, the chances of seeing it are rare; at least one sighting might be possible annually across the state.

Any birder will find it hard not to notice this hummer's overall bright green and blue shade with a dark tail band.

Like the other hummers, this Mexican beauty feeds heavily on nectars; insects also make up a significant part of its diet. When attracting hummingbirds such as this creature, ensure that you plant vibrant tubular flowers or some flowering trees.

It prefers to inhabit pine-oak forests, open areas, roadsides with flower banks nearby, and suburban habitats. This bird mostly goes solo, but it can also be defensive in its feeding territory when within its normal range.


Frequently Asked Questions

When are hummingbirds seen in Texas?

Do hummingbirds live in Texas? It's a typical question that most birders within the state have, especially those hoping to have better chances of encountering these charismatic birds. The breeding season happens in springtime. Thus, even if it's common to see Texas hummingbirds in summer, Mid-March through early May is the prime time for hummingbirds to arrive in Texas.

The first arrivals occur as early as February in some southern parts of Texas, with some birdies lingering to breed in summer. Most of them will start moving towards the south from August through mid-October, just in time for winter.

Cliff Shackelford has ten-year data that might come in handy for those showing particular interest in this species. His 2005 publication, "The Hummingbirds Of Texas," contains the Texas hummingbird roundup of initially a five-year program.

Eventually, the hummingbird roundup program continued for 20 years instead of just five. Volunteers of this program gathered valuable temporal and geographical distribution data, including sighting reports.

It offers citizens and birders a better understanding of Texas hummingbirds' distribution, behavior, and native plants. The program fosters active public engagement in wildlife science through education and volunteer work.

When should you take down a hummingbird feeder in Texas?

If you leave your bird feeders available, are there hummingbirds in Texas that will opt not to migrate? Again, many would ask this particular question, but it is truthfully one of the many bird-feeding myths.

It's best to consider several factors when deciding when to remove feeders from your backyards. The variables include region, climate, and the Texas hummingbird species in question.

If you're in Texas, then January would be the best time to start removing the feeders in your backyard. The migrating types typically leave from August through October, and the latest would be by December.

But please note that some Texas hummingbirds choose to stay through the cold season. During winter, the broad-tailed hummers linger in the coastal areas; hence, it's best to keep your feeders available all year if you live near the seaside.

Where do Texas hummingbirds migrate to?

During the hummingbird migration, these birds align their timing and routes with the blooming of nectar-rich flowers. These birds do so to ensure they have ample fuel while on the move.

Hummingbirds arrive in Texas every year to breed and find food sources. Most of them are often visible in the mountains of West Texas and the woodland regions in both the eastern and southern parts of the state.

Even a mountainous neighborhood in Fort Davis holds an annual event, well-known as the Davis Mountains Hummingbird Celebration. The region offers exceptional birding opportunities to hobbyists, naturalists, and birders worldwide.

However, Central America and Mexico are popular wintering locations for hummingbirds. It is unusual for these birds to travel in huge flocks and do so between midday and early evening. In comparison, migrating birds towards the Mexican Gulf prefer to travel primarily at night.

What is the most common hummingbird in Texas?

Texas Parks and Wildlife Department's data shows that ruby-throated is the most common hummingbird frequently visiting the eastern part of the state. On the other hand, the black-chinned and rufous hummingbirds are most familiar in West Texas.

Final Thoughts

Texas hummingbird identification is relatively straightforward compared to other birding challenges. The variation in geographical distribution is low, and most birds acquire complete adult plumage with their first molt.

It only becomes challenging sometimes due to the diversity of iridescent features and the dull plumages of females and juveniles. But getting yourself more familiar with each species can do a lot of help. Careful observation is the key to more success in learning bird identification.

Hopefully, this article served as your handy guide not only in recognizing these birds through appearance but also in understanding their migration patterns and distribution.

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