Species of Hummingbirds West – Tiny Jewels of Western Skies

Hummingbirds are some of the most fascinating and unique birds in the world, known for their iridescent feathers, hovering flight, and incredibly high metabolism. While there are over 300 species of hummingbirds in the world, some of the most stunning can be found in the western part of the Americas.

The western part of the Americas is home to an impressive array of hummingbird species, each with unique characteristics and adaptations. From the vibrant violet-crowned hummingbird to the tiny Costa’s hummingbird, there is no shortage of awe-inspiring species to explore.

I’ll look closer at some of the most remarkable hummingbirds in this region, their physical and behavioral traits, and what makes them so special.

Some Common Hummingbird Species in the West

The Western United States is home to various hummingbird species, each with distinctive features and characteristics. If you’re interested in spotting some of these species, head to any of the numerous nature reserves or gardens in the West.

Ruby-throated Hummingbird

This small bird is characterized by its vibrant red throat, which gives this species its name. It is found in various habitats in the western United States, including in forested and open areas and in suburban and urban environments.

In addition to the West, the Ruby-throated Hummingbird is also found in parts of eastern North America. It typically breeds during summer, but some birds may remain in the West year-round.

Length:       7 to 9 cm

Wingspan:  8 to 11 cm

Weight:       3-4 gm

Diet:            Nectar and insects

Rufous Hummingbird

The tiny Rufous Hummingbird is one of the most widely distributed species of hummingbirds in the western United States. This hummingbird species can be found in various habitats, including open conifer forests, chaparral, and urban areas.

They make up a significant part of the hummingbird population in the western region and are highly sought after by birders and wildlife enthusiasts.

Length:       7 to 9 cm

Wingspan:  Up to 11 cm

Weight:       2-5 gm

Diet:            Nectar and insects

Costa’s Hummingbird

It is one of a few species of hummingbird commonly found throughout the western United States. This species frequents habitats in various settings, from arid deserts to lush riparian corridors. As its namesake implies, it is a member of Calypte, a group of medium-sized hummingbirds found exclusively in the Americas.

Length:       Up to 9 cm

Wingspan:  Up to 11 cm

Weight:       2-3 gm

Diet:            Nectar and insects

Broad-tailed Hummingbird

The tiny Broad-tailed Hummingbird is one of the most common species of hummingbird found in the western part of North America. This species is easily identified by its distinctive male plumage, including a dark green back and crown, bright green throat, and a bright pink gorget or patch on the throat.

It is a migratory species, breeding in the western United States and Mexico during the summer months and migrating to Central America and as far south as Peru during the winter months.

Length:       Up to 10 cm

Wingspan:  Up to 13 cm

Weight:       around 3.6 gm

Diet:            Nectar and insects

Broad-billed Hummingbird

This hummingbird is easily identifiable with its long, thin bill, red with a black tip. Males have a deep blue-green head and back, while females have a gray head and back.

Broad-billed Hummingbirds are primarily found in low scrub and desert habitats but also inhabit oak-pine woodlands and riparian areas. They feed on flowers and small insects and are especially attracted to tubular flowers such as penstemon, salvias, lupines, and columbines.

Length:       8-10 cm

Wingspan:  Up to 12.7 cm

Weight:       3-4 gm

Diet:            Nectar and insects

Black-chinned Hummingbird

The majestic Black-chinned Hummingbird is one of Western North America’s most common hummingbird species. This small yet vibrant bird can be found in various habitats, such as woodlands, savannas, deserts, and suburban gardens.

It has a distinct black chin, throat, and crown, and its iridescent green back makes it a beautiful and exciting sight. The Black-chinned Hummingbird feeds on nectar from flowers and small insects.

Length:       Up to 9 cm

Wingspan:  Up to 11 cm

Weight:       2.3-4.9 gm

Diet:            Nectar and insects

Anna’s Hummingbird

This species is easily identified due to its distinct coloration: a green back and crown, a pink-red gorget, and white underparts. Male Anna’s Hummingbirds are further distinguished by their bright orange and red feathers on the sides of their heads.

These birds are highly migratory, with northern populations moving south in the winter, reaching as far as central Mexico.

Length:       9.9 to 10.9 cm

Wingspan:  Up to 12 cm

Weight:       2.8-5.7 gm

Diet:            Nectar and insects

Calliope Hummingbird

The tiny Calliope Hummingbird (Selasphorus rufus) is one of the most common hummingbirds in the western United States. It is a small, slender bird with a bright metallic green back, crown, and white eyebrows. The male has a reddish-pink throat and a deep, glittering magenta gorget, while the female’s throat is white.

It is the smallest long-distance migratory bird in the world, wintering in Central America and northern Mexico and breeding as far north as Alaska and British Columbia during the summer.

Length:       8 to 9 cm

Wingspan:  10.5 to 11 cm

Weight:       2.3-3.4 gm

Diet:            Nectar and insects

Best Time to Watch Hummingbirds in West

The West is home to a stunning array of hummingbirds in many places throughout the region. The best time to watch hummingbirds in the West is from March to August. During the spring, hummingbirds migrate through the West, searching for food and nesting sites.

During the summer, they can often be found in gardens and parks, actively foraging for nectar. You can witness their vibrant colors and acrobatic flight show with the right timing and location.

To increase your chances of seeing hummingbirds, visiting the same spot most days of the week is best. Also, try to go earlier in the day as hummingbirds are busiest.

Diet of Hummingbirds in West

The tiny hummingbirds’ incredible agility and fast-paced lifestyle require a specialized diet to sustain them. In the Western region, hummingbirds have adapted to feed on nectar, insects, and tree sap to maintain their high metabolism.

Nectar

They rely heavily on nectar for their diet. Nectar provides them with the necessary carbohydrates to fuel their high-energy lifestyle.

Hummingbirds have a long, slender beak that allows them to reach deep into flowers to extract nectar, which they lap up with their tongue. They prefer flowers that are tubular in shape and brightly colored.

Insects

These birds also feed on insects, which provide them with essential protein and other nutrients. They often catch insects in mid-air while hovering and consume them whole. Some insects they feed on include mosquitoes, gnats, and aphids.

Tree Sap

In addition to nectar and insects, hummingbirds also feed on tree sap. They peck small holes into the bark of trees and then use their long tongue to lick up the sap that oozes out. This behavior is especially common during a drought when nectar and insect populations are low.

How to Attract Hummingbirds to Your Yard?

If you want to attract these tiny birds to your garden, you can do a few things to create an inviting environment. One of the most important steps is to plant various flowers that produce nectar, the main food source for hummingbirds.

Some of the best flowers to plant include trumpet vine, honeysuckle, bee balm, and fuchsia In addition to flowers, you can also hang hummingbird feeders filled with a mixture of four parts water to one part sugar. Another way to attract hummingbirds is to provide a water source, such as a bird bath or fountain.

They love to bathe and drink from moving water, so a small fountain or dripper can be especially enticing. Creating a safe and comfortable environment for the birds is also important. This can be done by planting shrubs and trees for shade and protection and by avoiding the use of pesticides.

Several Species of Hummingbirds In North America

Are There Any Similar Species of Hummingbirds in South and West?

The south’s dazzling hummingbird diversity is truly remarkable. In both South and West, a wide range of hummingbird species can be found. These regions are home to several similar species of hummingbirds, each possessing unique characteristics and vibrant colors. It is truly a sight to behold and a testament to the beauty of nature.

Conclusion

The Western region of the United States is home to a fascinating array of hummingbird species, each with unique characteristics and behaviors. From the rufous hummingbird to the black-chinned hummingbird, these tiny creatures are a delight to watch and attract to your yard.

Depending on the species and region, the timing of migration season can vary, but it is generally the best time to observe hummingbirds in the Western region of the United States. To attract hummingbirds to your yard, providing a diverse range of nectar-rich flowers and clean sugar water feeders is key.

Additionally, incorporating perches and avoiding the use of pesticides can create a safe and welcoming habitat for these important pollinators. With a little effort and patience, anyone can enjoy the beauty and wonder of hummingbirds in the West.

Resources:

  • https://www.umt.edu/this-is-montana/columns/stories/montana_hummingbirds.php
  • http://home.olemiss.edu/~larryago/hummingbirds/species.html
  • https://fieldguide.mt.gov/displaySpecies.aspx?family=Trochilidae

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