Kentucky is home to a diverse range of bird species, including several types of hummingbirds. These small and vibrant birds are known for their unique flying abilities and are a favorite of birdwatchers and nature enthusiasts alike. In this blog post, we’ll take a closer look at the different types of hummingbirds found in Kentucky, their habitats, behaviors, and conservation status.
From the common and colorful Ruby-throated Hummingbird to the rare and elusive Rufous Hummingbird, we’ll explore the fascinating world of these tiny creatures and their roles in Kentucky’s ecosystems. We’ll also provide tips on how to spot and identify hummingbirds in the wild, as well as resources for further reading and exploration.
Whether you’re an experienced birdwatcher, a nature lover, or simply curious about the wildlife in your area, we invite you to join us on a journey to discover the incredible hummingbirds of Kentucky.
5 Types of Hummingbirds in Kentucky
- Rufous Hummingbird
- Black-Chinned Hummingbird
- Ruby-Throated Hummingbird
- Mexican Violetear
- Anna’s Hummingbird
- Scientific name: Calypte anna
- Lifespan: Up to 10 years in the wild
- Weight: 3.5 to 6 grams
- Size: 9 to 11 cm (3.5 to 4.3 inches) in length, with a wingspan of 12 to 13 cm (4.7 to 5.1 inches)
- Origin: Found on the western coast of North America, from southern Alaska to Baja California
Little Anna’s Hummingbirds are mostly green and grey in color. The female’s neck is grey with spots of red whereas the male’s head and throat are iridescent reddish-pink.
Anna’s Hummingbird is the most common non-migratory hummingbird along the Pacific Coast. The males do a stunning dive performance during mating, climbing as high as 130 feet in the air before plummeting back to the earth while making a loud noise with their tail feathers.
While they may also be found in scrub and savannah, Anna’s hummingbirds prefer the backyards and parks with, vibrant flowers and nectar feeders.
The nests of Anna’s hummingbirds are located high in trees, between 6 and 20 feet above, and they often have two to three broods each year.
- Scientific name: Selasphorus rufus
- Lifespan: 3 to 5 years in the wild
- Weight: 2.7 to 4.3 grams
- Size: 7 to 9 cm (2.8 to 3.5 inches) in length, with a wingspan of 11 cm (4.3 inches)
- Origin: Found in western North America, from Alaska to Mexico
Rufous Hummingbirds are bright orange on the back and belly, have a white patch below the neck, and have an iridescent red throat. The females have a pale belly and a back that is greenish-brown and rusty in color.
As compared to their size, rufous hummingbirds have one of the longest migration routes, covering up to 4000 kilometers on each trip. They move south to Mexico and the Gulf Coast to spend the winter after breeding in northwest Alaska.
In the spring, they go north along the Pacific Coast, and in the late summer and autumn, they pass past the Rocky Mountains.
The main sources of food for rufous hummingbirds are nectar from vibrant tubular flowers and insects including gnats, midges, and flies. They use soft plant down and spider webs to keep their nest together as they make it high up in the trees. They lay two or three very little, white eggs that are 0.5 in (1.3 cm) long.
They are quite hostile and will attack any other hummingbirds that appear, even bigger ones or those who are resident during migration. They won’t stay around for very long during migration and will often chase off other hummingbirds if they have the opportunity. They inhabit mountain meadows and, during the winter, woodlands, and woods.
- Scientific name: Archilochus colubris
- Lifespan: 3 to 5 years in the wild
- Weight: 2.5 to 4 grams
- Size: 7 to 9 cm (2.8 to 3.5 inches) in length, with a wingspan of 8 to 11 cm (3.1 to 4.3 inches)
- Origin: Found throughout eastern North America, from southern Canada to the Gulf of Mexico, as well as in some parts of Central America during migration.
The male Ruby-throated Hummingbirds have an iridescent red throat, and both sexes have bright green throats and back with gray-white undersides. Female Ruby-throated Hummingbirds have white undersides, greenbacks, and brownish crowns and sides.
The only hummingbird species that breeds in eastern North America is the Ruby-throated Hummingbird, which subsequently migrates farther south to Central America. Some travel across Texas along the coast or over the Gulf of Mexico. For breeding, they begin to arrive in the deep south in February and may not reach the northern states and Canada until May. They go south In September and August.
These little birds fly from one nectar source to another, catching insects in the air or on the webs of spiders. They will sometimes rest on a tiny branch, but because of their short legs, they can only shuffle along a perch and can’t walk.
The best locations to look for them outside in the summer are flowering gardens or forest margins. They are very widespread in urban areas, particularly around nectar feeders.
Male Ruby-throated Hummingbirds are aggressive in the protection of feeders and flowers. After mating, they do not stay around for very long and may migrate by early august.
Ruby-throated females make their nests on thin branches out of thistle or dandelion down that are bound together by spider silk. They lay 1-3 eggs that are only 0.6 inches in diameter (1.3 cm)
- Scientific name: Colibri thalassinus
- Lifespan: Up to 8 years in the wild
- Weight: 6 to 7 grams
- Size: 9 to 10 cm (3.5 to 3.9 inches) in length, with a wingspan of 12 to 14 cm (4.7 to 5.5 inches)
- Origin: Found in montane forests of Mexico and Central America.
Mexico Violetears are medium-sized hummingbirds that have violet spots on the sides of their heads and breasts and are metallic green overall.
Mexican Violetears may be found as far south as the highlands of Bolivia and Venezuela. They breed in forests in Mexico, Central America, and Nicaragua. In particular in Central and Southern Texas, non-breeding Mexican Violetears have been seen to travel northward into the United States.
- Scientific name: Archilochus alexandri
- Lifespan: Up to 10 years in the wild
- Weight: 3 to 3.5 grams
- Size: 8.5 to 10.5 cm (3.3 to 4.1 inches) in length, with a wingspan of 11 to 13 cm (4.3 to 5.1 inches)
- Origin: Found in western North America, from the western United States to northern Mexico.
Black-chinned Hummingbirds have grayish-white undersides and dull metallic green backs. The females have a light neck and white tail feather tips, while the males have a black throat with a thin, iridescent purple base.
Black-chinned hummingbirds mostly breed inland in western states, and during the winter they travel to western Mexico and the Gulf Coast.
They eat nectar, tiny insects, and spiders. While consuming nectar, their tongues can lick 13–17 times per second.
Black-chinned Hummingbirds lay 2 white, tiny eggs that are barely 0.6 inches long in their nests, which are made of plant down and spider silk to keep them together (1.3 cm)
Black-chinned Hummingbirds often return to a favorite perch and are frequently seen perched at the tops of dead trees on small, bare limbs. They may be found among shaded oaks on the Gulf Coast or by canyons and rivers in the Southwest.
Kentucky is a great place to observe hummingbirds. These small, vibrant birds are a joy to watch, with their unique behavior and bright colors adding to their charm. To attract hummingbirds to your yard in Kentucky, consider planting native flowers, using a hummingbird feeder, and avoiding the use of pesticides. By creating a welcoming environment, you can witness the beauty and wonder of these amazing birds up close. Whether you’re an experienced birdwatcher or just starting to explore the world of hummingbirds, Kentucky provides an excellent opportunity to observe these tiny, yet mighty, creatures in their natural habitat. So, next time you’re out exploring nature in Kentucky, be sure to keep your eyes peeled for these fascinating and beautiful hummingbirds.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Q: When is the best time to see hummingbirds in Kentucky?
A: The best time to see hummingbirds in Kentucky is spring and summer, typically from late March to early October.
Q: What is the preferred habitat for hummingbirds in Kentucky?
A: Hummingbirds prefer habitats that have a lot of nectar-producing plants, such as gardens, meadows, and forests.
Q: How can I attract hummingbirds to my backyard in Kentucky?
A: You can attract hummingbirds to your backyard in Kentucky by planting nectar-producing flowers and shrubs, hanging hummingbird feeders, and providing a water source.
Q: Do hummingbirds migrate from Kentucky?
A: Yes, Ruby-throated Hummingbirds that breed in Kentucky will migrate to Central and South America during the winter months, while other species may migrate to other parts of the southwestern United States.
Q: Can I touch or hold a hummingbird?
A: No, it is not recommended to touch or hold a hummingbird as it can be harmful to the bird and may also be illegal under wildlife protection laws.
Q: Are hummingbirds endangered in Kentucky?
A: While the Ruby-throated Hummingbird is not considered endangered in Kentucky, habitat loss and other threats can impact their populations over time. Other species, such as the Rufous Hummingbird, are considered threatened or endangered in some parts of their range.