Washington state is known for its natural beauty, including its diverse bird species. One group of birds that captures the hearts of many is the hummingbird. With their brilliant colors, unique flight patterns, and tiny size, hummingbirds are a fascinating and beloved part of Washington’s avian wildlife.
In this blog post, we will explore the hummingbird species found in Washington, their behaviors, habitats, and migration patterns. We will also provide tips on how to attract and observe hummingbirds in your own backyard, as well as share some resources for further reading and exploration.
Whether you’re an avid birdwatcher, a nature enthusiast, or simply curious about these amazing little birds, we invite you to join us on a journey to discover the world of hummingbirds in Washington state.
4 Types of Hummingbirds in Washington
- Anna’s Hummingbirds
- Calliope Hummingbird
- Rufous Hummingbird
- Black-chinned 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 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.
- 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 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.
Washington is home to a variety of hummingbirds that add to the state’s already rich and diverse wildlife. From the common and widespread Rufous Hummingbird to the rarer and more elusive Anna’s Hummingbird, these tiny and vibrant birds are a joy to watch and study.
While these birds may be small, they play an important role in Washington’s ecosystems as pollinators and predators of insect pests. It’s crucial that we continue to learn about and protect these species, especially as their habitats are threatened by climate change and habitat loss.
Whether you’re a seasoned birdwatcher or a curious nature enthusiast, we hope this guide has inspired you to explore the world of hummingbirds in Washington. By learning about and appreciating these amazing birds, we can better understand and protect the delicate balance of our ecosystems.
Q: What types of hummingbirds can be found in Washington?
A: There are several species of hummingbirds that can be found in Washington, including the Anna’s hummingbird, the Rufous hummingbird, the Calliope hummingbird, the Black-chinned hummingbird, and the Broad-tailed hummingbird.
Q: When is the best time to see hummingbirds in Washington?
A: Hummingbirds can be seen in Washington from April to September, with peak activity typically occurring from May to August.
Q: What can I do to attract hummingbirds to my yard in Washington?
A: To attract hummingbirds to your yard, you can provide a food source by setting up a hummingbird feeder filled with a sugar-water solution (1 part sugar to 4 parts water). You can also plant native flowers such as bee balm, columbine, and trumpet honeysuckle, which provide nectar for hummingbirds.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Q: Are hummingbirds in Washington endangered or threatened?
A: Anna’s hummingbird is not considered endangered or threatened, but the Rufous hummingbird is considered a species of concern due to declining populations.
Q: What is the smallest hummingbird species found in Washington?
A: The Calliope hummingbird is the smallest hummingbird species found in Washington, measuring only about 3 inches in length.
Q: How can I differentiate between male and female hummingbirds in Washington?
A: Male hummingbirds in Washington typically have more vibrant and colorful feathers than females, while females tend to have more muted colors. Additionally, males may have more elaborate plumage or throat patches used for attracting mates.
Q: Do hummingbirds migrate through Washington?
A: Yes, some hummingbird species such as the Rufous hummingbird migrate through Washington during their annual migration to breeding and wintering grounds.
Q: Can I legally keep a hummingbird as a pet in Washington?
A: No, it is illegal to keep a hummingbird as a pet in Washington, as they are protected under state and federal laws.