The Most Common Hummingbird Species: Discover Color Patterns, Vocalizations & Fun Facts

hummingbird species feature image

Last Updated on by Garrett Hayes

Hummingbirds belong to a family of small, colorful, and long-beaked birds called Trochilidae, named after the humming sound made by their fast-moving wings.

They are the smallest among birds; only 3-5 inches long except for the smallest one which are bee hummingbirds that are only 2 inches long. 

They are found in the Western Hemisphere, primarily North America.

All hummingbirds feed nectar from flowers, they are highly attracted to long tubular flowers with thin floral nectar, especially ones that are colored red, yellow, orange, and bright pink. 

Aside from nectar and sugar water, they also eat arthropods because they are a good source of protein, minerals, and vitamins for them, that’s why they can be seen catching them with their wings or plucking them from spiderwebs. These are also what they feed their young since nectar does not have a sufficient source of protein.

Hummingbirds in the lower classification of species have the second-greatest number in the whole world.

So how many hummingbird types are there?

There are more than 325 different types of hummingbirds in the world.

But…

Only eight California hummingbirds regularly breed, and that makes them the most common species of hummers.  

So let’s  get to know the 8 most common species of hummingbirds one by one, in brief details with some fun facts. 

8 Most Common Species of Hummingbirds

1. Ruby-Throated Hummingbird (Archilochus Colubris)

ruby throated hummingbird

Ruby-throated hummingbirds are the most common species of hummingbirds seen in the east. They also have the largest breeding range across the US.  

They are extraordinarily quick and have the potential to flap their wings more than 50 times a second. 

These species of hummingbirds are tiny, they can only grow up to 3.5 inches and weigh 2-6 grams, while their wingspan only ranges from 8-11 centimeters. 

Their average lifespan is estimated to be 3 to 5 years, but in the wild, they are expected to live from 5 to 9 years.

Range

Like all types of hummingbirds, they are commonly seen in the western hemisphere. You can see them spending the winter in locations such as Central America, Mexico, and Florida. 

Ruby-throated hummingbirds breed in the summer which causes them to migrate in eastern North America. They breed in places that have plenty of flowers like forest edges, open woodlands, orchards, gardens, meadows, and grasslands.

Color Pattern

Both genders have a metallic green or bright emerald back, crown, and tail and their underparts are gray. 

The male bird has a ruby-colored throat that can appear pink, purple, or even black in different lighting, while the female’s throat is white. Females are bigger and have a longer bill than male, their tail is round with white tips while the male has a forked tail with no white.  

Sonation and Vocalization

The vocalizations of ruby-throated hummingbirds are not as peaceful as the other birds’. They often sound rapid and squeaky because they are displaying threats towards intruders. Sometimes, the male ruby-throated hummingbird vocalizes this to warn others that another male has entered their territory. 

The males also make a repetitive and rapid tik sound using their wings to display courtship and dives. And when the male flies over the female as he spreads and shuts his tail, it makes a soft repetitive whining sound due to the outer tail feathers. 

Fun Facts

  • Once they mark their territory, they’ll defend it against all potential intruders, even if they are large insects or tiny mammals who aren’t intruding at all. 
  • Ruby-throated hummingbirds can fly incredibly straight and swift but find difficulty in stopping immediately.

2. Rufous Hummingbird (Selasphorus Rufus)

Male Rufous Hummingbird

Rufous Hummingbirds are fairly small, ranging only about 2.8-3.7 inches long and weigh 2-5 grams. They have short wings that are only 4 inches and a straight, long, and slim bill that are 15-19 millimeter long. 

They are expected to live for 7 to 8 years in the wild. 

This species is gifted with incredible speed for flight and moves skillfully. They act aggressively by combatting or chasing away other hummingbirds that are near or migrating. 

Range

They take advantage of the wildflower season from May to September by migrating through mountains and lowlands. In winter, they stay in wooded areas of Mexico, and in fall, they are most often found in the east. 

They breed in open areas such as yards, parks, and forests.

Color Pattern

Males have white breasts, flanks and tail, a flame orange-red patch on the throat, and a green back and crown. In good lighting, they can be seen with a bright orange back and belly.

On the other hand, females have green, white, and a few orange feathers in the center of their throats. They are slightly larger than males and have a dark tail with white tips. 

Sonation and Vocalization

Rufous hummingbirds commonly make vocalizations consisting of buzzes, chirps, whistles, and squeaks. 

They also make warning sounds towards intruding birds that sound like a fast repetition of chirps. Males also make a sequence of chu sounds at the bottom of their dive and a high-pitched trill when a strong gust of wind passes over. 

Both males and females make a loud or whine sound when they beat their wings depending on how fast they do it. Aside from broad-tailed hummingbirds, rufous hummingbirds make the most hum sound with their wings out of all the hummingbird varieties.

Fun Facts

  • Rufous hummingbirds are well known for their remarkable flight skills and an exceptional memory for location.
  • They can also survive in extreme freezing temperatures when supplied with sufficient food and shelter. 

3. Anna’s Hummingbird (Calypte Anna)

Anna's Hummingbird

Anna’s hummingbirds are chunky and medium-sized, weighing 3-6 grams, 3.5-4 inches long, and with a 4.7-inch wingspan.

They have a lengthy bill that is 16-20 millimeters and a fairly broad tail that extends beyond the wingtips when perched. 

Their lifespan ranges from 8 to 8.5 years in the wild. 

Range

Anna’s Hummingbirds are found in western North America to northern Mexico, most of these birds are permanent residents and are extremely territorial. 

They breed every December-June in scrubs, gardens, and yards, and migrate in mountains when it’s late summer. They are common in parks, groves, woods, savannas, and other open places.

Color Pattern

They are mostly green and gray. 

Males have a rose or red-orange throat and crown while females have bronze-green underparts.

Sonation and Vocalization

Their calls are a series of short, sharp, and rapid chee-chee. They also have a specific song that is long for a typical hummingbird, it ranges from 10-15 seconds and is a sequence of buzzes, a melodic whistle, and more chip notes.

When males perform their courtship dives, they produce a loud squeak at the bottom of it that was often mistaken as a chip note. 

Fun Facts

  • Anna’s Hummingbird is the only hummingbird in the United States with a pink/red crown. 
  • They can also shake their bodies during flight 55 times per second to shed rain or remove pollen and dirt from their feathers.

4. Calliope Hummingbird (Selasphorus Calliope)

Calliope Hummer

The Calliope hummingbird is the smallest bird native to the US and Canada, ranging only from 3-3.5 inches long and weighing 2-3.4 grams. 

It has short wings spanning only 4.1-4.3 inches that barely extends past the end of their short tail. They have a thin and short bill for a hummingbird, and their hunched posture makes them appear smaller than they are. 

Unlike common hummingbirds, Calliope hummingbirds only live from 5 to 6 years in the wild.

Range

They are often seen in high mountains and forest clearings as well as clear-cut zones. 

They breed in March to August in places like mountain meadows and open forests mainly in California to British Columbia. And migrate to the Southwestern United States, Mexico, and Central America, specifically in places like pine forests and scrubby edges. 

Color Pattern

Males have distinctive wine-red or magenta rays on their throat, shiny green upperparts, green flanks, a dark green crown, and a dark tail. 

While the females have dark streaks on their throat, pink-orange flanks, and a dark tail with white tips.

Sonation and Vocalization

When they encounter other birds while rummaging, they make chip sounds just like other hummingbirds do. 

During courtship display dives, the male Calliope hummingbird hovers and creates a loud sputtering buzzing sound with their tail feathers. They also create the same buzz sound with the feathers of their wings while flying.

Fun Facts

  • Calliope hummingbirds are extremely territorial, they are prone to defending their territory within the slightest feel of intrusion. Their pugnacity even leads to them chasing Red-tailed hawks and other bigger birds when they’re breeding. 
  • In the wild, they are expected to live up to 6 years, yet the longest record is a minimum of 8 years. 

5. Broad-tailed Hummingbird (Selasphorus Platycercus)

Broad-tailed Hummingbird

Broad-tailed hummingbirds are medium-sized, 3-4 inches in long, 2.8-4.5 grams light, and with a 5.25-inch wingspan. They have a thin body, a big head, and a straight 16-20 millimeter bill. 

Their tail is long for a hummingbird when perched, it extends beyond the wingtips. Female broad-tailed hummingbirds tend to be slightly bigger than males.

They live up to 14 years in the wild, unlike common hummingbirds that are only expected to live for 5-8 years.  

Range

These hummingbirds breed in elevated meadows, forest openings, oak woodlands, and other places in the western United States. They migrate mainly from April to May and August to September.

They are commonly found in high regions from the western United States and Western Canada to Mexico and Guatemala. And commonly under tree canopies and open areas with flowers. 

Color Pattern

Broad-tailed Hummingbirds are iridescent green with greenish sides and a white chest. 

Males are often identified with their rose-red throat and pale chin and face while females have a whitish throat with bronze-green flecks and cinnamon-colored underparts. 

Sonation and Vocalization

When foraging, both males and females chitter and chip when they are fighting over nectar or to threaten potential intruders. They make sharp and repetitive cheet call sounds. 

Male broad-tailed hummingbirds also make a loud metallic vibration sound with their wings while flying, this sound is very similar to a crickets sound. They also produce a buzzing sound when air passes them rapidly.

Their wingbeats are also a way of their communication and signals. They produce hums and trills with it when they fly and display courtship. 

Fun Facts

  • This species of hummingbird only breeds when it is the peak of flower production.
  • Broad-tailed hummingbirds are so swift that they easily escape predators like large birds and snakes.

6. Black-Chinned Hummingbird (Archilochus Alexandri)

Black-Chinned Hummingbird

Black-Chinned hummingbirds are small and slightly thin, they are 3.5-3.8 inches long and weigh 2.3-5 grams. 

They have a long and straight and very thin bill that is 16-22 millimeters long and a wingspan of 4.3 inches.

Black-Chinned hummingbirds have a life expectancy of 11 years in the wild. 

Range

These species are found in lowland deserts, mountains, woodlands, meadows, and other places that have tall trees and flowering shrubs. 

They breed in open semi-arid areas that are near water such as foothills and migrate mainly March to May and August to September. 

Color Pattern

Black-Chinned hummingbirds are usually pale metallic green above and with grayish-white underparts. 

Males have a black face, chin, and throat with a violet-blue lower band and a dark forked tail while females have a dark rounded tail with white tips and no throat patches at all. 

Sonation and Vocalization

The songs of Black-Chinned hummingbirds are sweet and soft yet very high pitched, it is similar to a whistle through teeth. 

Black-Chinned Hummingbirds have five different high-pitched ticks and chips that they combine depending on the situation. Their wings create a high pitched hum that creates bell-like sounds especially when they dive.

Fun Facts

  • They are born featherless and only gain a complete set of feathers in three weeks of hatching. 
  • These hummingbirds have a slight sense of hearing and can even detect ultraviolet light. 

7. Costa’s Hummingbird (Calypte Costae)

Costas Hummingbird

Costa’s hummingbirds are the second smallest North American hummingbird species, growing only 3-3.5 inches long and 2-3 grams light. 

Just like Calliope hummingbirds, they have a hunched posture that makes them appear smaller and more compact. When perched, their wings barely meet their short tail because their wingspan is only 4.3 inches. 

They only live up to 5 years even in the wild.

Range

Costa’s hummingbirds are found in the far west region of the US and Mexico. They are quite common in desert-like places, they prefer an arid climate with plants, shrubs, and cactus. 

They migrate when the food supply is little or when the temperature is intolerable and rarely moves to mountains after breeding season. 

Color Pattern

Costa’s hummingbirds have an iridescent green back and head, a dull black bill and dark brown feet. 

Males have a metallic purple throat and crown with a green back and vest. While females either have a violet feathered throat or a white one, they also have whitish underparts and a white eyebrow stripe. 

Sonation and Vocalization

When the male Costa’s hummingbird displays courtship, he makes a series of dives and swoops that produces a high-pitched shriek through his tail. Then, the male will perch and sing a thin high-pitched whistle. 

Females call when foraging with a sharp tic or a light chip, while males sing instead of calling.

Fun Fact

  • In cold nights, their body temperature reduces and their heart rate slows down to 50 beats per minute even though their normal resting heart rate is 500-900 beats per minute. 

8. Broad Billed Hummingbird (Cynanthus Latirostris)

Broad-billed Hummingbird

Broad Billed hummingbirds are 3.24-4 inches long, 3-4 grams light (females weigh lighter), and with a wingspread of 5 inches. 

They are highly aggressive when it comes to a territorial defense that they will vocalize threats and chase intruders. 

Broad Billed hummingbirds are expected to live from 6.8 up to 8.8 years in the wild. 

Range

Most of them are in Mexico, but some are found breeding in the mountain canyons of southwestern US.

Broad Billed hummingbirds migrate in southern Arizona from March to September. They stay in arid deserts and nest in areas such as foothills and streambeds with an abundance of food. 

Color Pattern

Broad-billed hummingbirds have metallic green upperparts and breasts while their tail is dark and forked. 

Males have a straight and slender bill that is red and black on the tip and a deep vibrant blue throat. On the other hand, females are less colorful. They have a grayish throat and undersides with tails that have pale outer tips and a white spot behind their eyes.

Sonation and Vocalization

They make a clipped and rapid chi-dit sound similar to a Ruby-Crowned Kinglet’s

Males deliver a series of short chip notes when courting females. During courting displays, the male’s wings also create a vibrating sound that has a high-pitched zing. 

Fun Facts

  • A Broad-billed Hummingbird can consume nectar almost twice its body weight every day. 
  • They are attracted to owl sounds, it makes them dive and perch nearby the owl.

Now if you’re really serious about getting a good view of the different species of hummingbirds, you better be also serious about getting the best hummingbird feeder ever, which is already taken care of, in this review. Having one around, or even a bunch of them will give you more chances of winning…errr, I mean… getting them to come to your place. 😉

 

 

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