7 Beautiful hummingbirds in Tennessee [Pictures + IDs]

Tennessee is home to a diverse range of bird species, and among the most fascinating are the hummingbirds. These tiny birds are known for their remarkable flight abilities, unique behaviors, and vibrant colors. In this post, we’ll take a closer look at the hummingbirds found in Tennessee, their habitats, migration patterns, and some interesting facts about them.

From the Ruby-throated Hummingbird, the most commonly seen species in Tennessee, to the Rufous Hummingbird, a rare and occasional visitor, we’ll explore the different types of hummingbirds found in the state. We’ll also provide tips on how to attract these beautiful birds to your backyard and some resources for further reading and exploration.

Whether you’re a seasoned birdwatcher, a nature enthusiast, or simply curious about the wildlife in your area, we invite you to join us on a journey to discover the fascinating world of hummingbirds in Tennessee.

7 Types of Hummingbirds in Tennessee

  1. Anna’s Hummingbird
  2. Black-Chinned Hummingbird
  3. Rufous Hummingbird
  4. Calliope Hummingbird
  5. Costa’s Hummingbird
  6. Broad-Tailed Hummingbird
  7. Ruby-Throated Hummingbird

Ruby-throated Hummingbirds

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  • 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)

Black-chinned Hummingbird

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  • 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.

Rufous Hummingbird

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  • 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.

Anna’s Hummingbirds

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  • 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.

Calliope Hummingbird

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  • Scientific name: Selasphorus calliope
  • Lifespan: 3 to 5 years in the wild
  • Weight: 2 to 2.5 grams
  • Size: 7 to 8 cm (2.8 to 3.1 inches) in length, with a wingspan of 11 cm (4.3 inches)
  • Origin: Found in western North America, from southern Canada to Mexico

The Calliope Hummingbird, the tiniest bird in America with the size of a ping pong ball, travels more than 5000 miles annually from Mexico to Canada and back. Moreover, they fight valiantly to protect their territory and even pursue Red-tailed Hawks.

Male Calliope Hummingbirds have shiny green backs and sides, brilliant magenta throats (known as the gorget), and black tails. The underside of females is more pinkish-white than white, unlike that of males, who have iridescent throats.

They migrate in spring from the Pacific Coast to breeding grounds in California, Colorado, and up to northern states and Canada, They migrate pretty early and arrive between the middle of April and the beginning of May.

Their nests are often found on evergreen trees and may be reused or built over an older nest.

Allen’s Hummingbird

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  • Scientific name: Selasphorus sasin
  • Lifespan: 3 to 5 years in the wild
  • Weight: 2.5 to 3.5 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

It may be difficult to distinguish Allen’s Hummingbirds from Rufous Hummingbirds in the little area of coastal woodland and scrub between California and Oregon that they inhabit.

Male Allen’s Hummingbirds have orange bellies, tails, and eye patches along with iridescent reddish-orange throats. The females lack the brilliant throat color, but both sexes have long, straight bills and coppery-green backs.

The Allen’s Hummingbird’s small outer tail feathers are what set it apart from Rufous Hummingbirds. They may have up to three broods a year and build nests at no particular height along shaded streams.

Allen’s Hummingbirds move up to the Pacific Coast in California and Oregon as early as January and spend the winter in Mexico. Some continue to live in Los Angeles and central Mexico.

Costa’s Hummingbird

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  • Scientific name: Calypte costae
  • Lifespan: Up to 5 years in the wild
  • Weight: 3 to 4 grams
  • Size: 8 to 10 cm (3.1 to 3.9 inches) in length, with a wingspan of 12 to 13 cm (4.7 to 5.1 inches)
  • Origin: Found in the southwestern United States and Mexico, primarily in desert and scrubland habitats.

Costa’s Hummingbirds are mostly desert-dwelling hummingbirds with eye-catching, outward-curving purple neck patches and purple crowns. Their bellies are white with green coloration on the sides, and their backs are green. Female Costa’s Hummingbirds have a more white belly and lack the purple tint.

Baja California, southern California, and southwestern Arizona are home to Costa’s Hummingbirds. Also, throughout the winter, they go between Mexico’s Pacific Coast and Arizona, the southern reaches of Nevada Utah, and California for breeding.

Costa’s Hummingbirds live in desert scrub, chaparral, and deciduous forests, and they frequent a wide variety of plant types. They may have up to two broods a year and build their nests in bushes between three and seven feet from the ground.

Conclusion

Tennessee is home to several species of hummingbirds, including the Ruby-throated Hummingbird, Rufous Hummingbird, and Black-chinned Hummingbird. These tiny birds are a delight to observe and play an important role in pollinating native plants. By providing a suitable habitat and food sources, we can help ensure that these hummingbirds continue to thrive in Tennessee.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Q: What species of hummingbirds are commonly found in Tennessee?

A: The Ruby-throated Hummingbird is the most commonly found species of hummingbird in Tennessee. Other species, such as the Rufous and Black-chinned Hummingbirds, may occasionally pass through during migration.

Q: When is the best time to see hummingbirds in Tennessee?

A: The best time to see hummingbirds in Tennessee is during their breeding season, which typically runs from late April to early September.

Q: How can I attract hummingbirds to my yard in Tennessee?

A: You can attract hummingbirds to your yard in Tennessee by offering them a food source, such as sugar water in a feeder or plants with nectar-rich flowers. It’s also important to provide a water source, such as a birdbath or misting device.

Q: How do I make sugar water for hummingbirds in Tennessee?

A: To make sugar water for hummingbirds in Tennessee, mix one part white granulated sugar with four parts boiling water. Allow the mixture to cool before filling your feeder.

Q: Are there any plants that hummingbirds are attracted to in Tennessee?

A: Yes, there are many plants that hummingbirds are attracted to in Tennessee, including bee balm, cardinal flower, columbine, and salvia.

Q: Do hummingbirds migrate through Tennessee?

A: Yes, hummingbirds do migrate through Tennessee. The Ruby-throated Hummingbird is the most common species to migrate through the state, but other species may also be seen during migration.

Q: Do hummingbirds stay in Tennessee year-round?

A: No, hummingbirds do not stay in Tennessee year-round. They migrate to Central and South America for the winter and return to Tennessee during the breeding season in the spring.

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