12 Hummingbirds Found in Alabama: (Pictures and Sounds)

What types of hummingbirds are found in Alabama?

There are 12 species of hummingbirds found in Alabama:

  • Allen’s  
  • Anna’s   
  • Black-chinned 
  • Blue-throated Mountain-gem AKA Blue-throated
  • Broad-billed 
  • Broad-tailed 
  • Buff-bellied 
  • Calliope  
  • Mexican Violetear AKA Green Violetear
  • Rivoli’s AKA Magnificent
  • Ruby-throated 
  • Rufous

These 12 hummingbird species found in Alabama are further categorized into 3 groups:
(Year-Round/Residents), (Seasonal), (Rare/Vagrant).

Year-Round/Native Hummingbirds in Alabama:

This hummingbird classification is defined as hummingbirds that are year-round residents residing in Alabama 365 days a year and do not migrate.

There are no year-round species of hummingbirds residing in Alabama all 365 days a year, however, some cold-tolerant hummingbirds may over-winter on a year-by-year decision process.
The most cold-tolerant hummingbird species is the Ruby-throated and Rufous hummingbirds.

The most likely hummingbirds to be seen in an Alabama winter would be a Ruby-throated or Rufous hummingbird.

Hummingbirds are much more tolerant of cold weather than most people would expect, especially the Ruby-throated and the Rufous hummingbirds, the two most common hummingbirds seen in Alabama.

According to eBird.org, some banded hummingbirds have been documented in temperatures of -9 degrees Fahrenheit with a wind chill of -36 degrees Fahrenheit.

Seasonal Hummingbirds In Alabama

This hummingbird classification is defined as hummingbirds that temporarily pass through Alabama as part of their migratory pattern during spring and fall migration.
Hummingbirds travel north to breed during spring migration and travel south during fall migration to winter in Mexico and Central America.

Some seasonal hummingbirds may remain in Alabama for the entire winter by choice, injury, or old age.

Note: Hummingbirds listed below are in the most commonly seen order.

RUBY-THROATED HUMMINGBIRD – (Archilochus colubris)

Conservation Status: Least concerned
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Aves
Order: Apodiformes
Family: Trochilidae
Genus: Archilochus
Species: A. colubris

Ruby-throated hummingbirds dominate Eastern North America and are the most commonly seen in Alabama. On average, out of 10,000 hummingbird sightings in Alabama, 9,380 will be of the Ruby-throated hummingbird.
See Alabama Ruby-throated sightings map

The Ruby-throated hummingbird does not live in Alabama year-round, however, they have been documented as overwintering in Alabama.

The Ruby-throated hummingbird’s scientific name originated from Carl Linnaeus, a Swedish botanist, who first listed this scientific classification as “Trochilus colubris”. Its name changed over a hundred years later and was reclassified by Ludwig Reichenbach, a German botanist, to “Archilochus colubris”, which is its current scientific name, meaning “top thief” or “sky spirit/sun-god bird”.

Male Ruby-throated hummingbirds have a striking iridescent blood-red gorget, stopping at the neckline. He is identified with a dull metallic green topside, a light gray underbelly, and black wings. The Ruby-throated hummingbird is a smaller species of hummingbird weighing less than 4.5 grams or 2 U.S. dimes and is 2.8 to 3.3 inches in length. Their lifespan is approximately 3-5 years. 

Male Ruby-Throated Hummingbird
Photo by: Anna Townsend
Taken: Etowah County, AL
Male Ruby-Throated Hummingbird
Photo by: Annaousry
Taken: Etowah County, AL
Male Ruby-Throated Hummingbird
Photo by: dgen.photos

Female Ruby-throated hummingbirds have a white throat with some light stippling and are typically larger than the males. The oldest female Ruby-throated hummingbird has been recorded at 9 years, almost double that of the male. 

However, the average lifespan of a Ruby-throated hummingbird is approximately 3-5 years.

Female Ruby-Throated Hummingbird
Photo by: Anna Townsend
Taken: Etowah County, AL
Female Ruby-Throated Hummingbird
Photo by: Anna Townsend
Taken: Etowah County, AL
Female Ruby-Throated Hummingbird
Photo by: Dgen.photos

The only hummingbird that breeds and nests in Alabama is the Ruby-throated hummingbird; all other hummingbirds seen in West Virginia are just passing through to their nesting destination.
See Ruby-throated breeding map

Juvenile male and female Ruby-throated hummingbirds during their initial stages of life resemble their mother exhibiting a white throat with light stippling.

As the males mature, they begin to display a few specks of color near their neckline and eventually their bolder red throat feathers become more dominant and stately displaying a colorful gorget. 

Juvenile Male Ruby-Throated Hummingbird
Photo by: Dgen.photos

Note: His throat feathers are slowly coming in, displaying a few dots of color near his neckline and showing the first stages of adolescence. 

Juvenile Male Ruby-Throated Hummingbird
Photo by: Dgen.photos
Two Juvenile Ruby-Throated Hummingbirds
Photo by: Dgen.photos

Note: These two juvenile Ruby-throated hummingbirds are playing nice and sharing a feeder. This could be because they are siblings or just getting the courage to find food on their own.

Baby/Juvenile Ruby-Throated Hummingbird
Photo by: Rekha Pawar

Note: The newly white fluffy down feathers on this baby/juvenile Ruby-throated hummingbird’s bottom. 

Also, notice the nice fat reserves they have accumulated by being fed by their diligent mother which will sustain them through adolescence.

Photo by: Anna Townsend
Taken: Alabama

See my article: Why Hummingbirds Chase Each Other: Is it Friend or Foe?

Photo by: Anna Townsend
Taken: Alabama

Note: This hummingbird is struggling with a bee or wasp situation at the feeder.

See my article: Bees On My Hummingbird Feeder: (9 Tips To Get Rid of Them)

There are two migration routes for the Ruby-throated hummingbird during the spring and fall migrations.

The first migration route is a direct but exhausting nonstop journey southwest over the Gulf of Mexico to Mexico and then down to Central America for the winter.  The flight distance over the Gulf of Mexico is over 500 miles. Although this is the direct “shortroute, there are numerous obstacles faced by these birds. 

Some obstacles include not being able to rest, having no means to refuel or eat, and having to avoid the dangerous tropical Atlantic hurricanes while flying to their destination. To make matters worse, depending on how you look at it, they migrate during the dark hours of the night or are taking the “Red-eye flight”.

Researchers believe their small size makes the energy expenditure of their grueling trans-oceanic migration pattern more taxing for males than for females even though they both double their body’s fat prior to making the migration across the Gulf of Mexico.

The second migration route is over 2,000 miles, flying along the coastline outlining the Gulf of Mexico. Although this is the “long” route, it allows the opportunity to rest and refuel even though there are fewer food source guarantees along the way. 

Scientists are unclear and continue to investigate why one group of birds would prefer to take one route over the other.
See my article: Hummingbird Migration in Alabama

Hummingbirds are much more tolerant of cold temperatures than most people realize.

According to eBird.org, through branding practices in Wisconsin, the Ruby-throated and Rufous hummingbirds have been documented surviving in temperatures of -9F and wind chills of -36F.
See my article: 3 Reasons Why Hummingbirds Are Banded

Many Alabama hummingbird admirers leave hummingbird feeders up all winter long to provide life-nourishing nectar for those that may over-winter in Alabama.

This selfless act also provides nectar to other injured or older hummingbirds that are unable to migrate.
See my article: 11 DIY Ways to Keep Hummingbird Nectar From Freezing

Ruby-throated hummingbirds prefer open woodlands and are often seen in parks, gardens, and backyards. They are solitary birds except during mating periods when they are fiercely territorial and aggressive towards hummingbirds of other species. 

Even though these hummingbirds have an aggressive side they can still be eaten by predators such as large invertebrates, praying mantises, orb-weaver spiders, and dragonflies.
See my article: 10 Common Things That Kill Hummingbirds

During a capture and release banding operation in West Virginia, the oldest living recorded female Ruby-throated hummingbird was 9 years and 1 month old.
See my article: 3 Reasons Why Hummingbirds Are Banded

RUFOUS HUMMINGBIRD – (Selasphorus rufus)

Conservation Status: Near threatened
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Aves
Order: Apodiformes
Family: Trochilidae
Genus: Selasphorus
Species: S. rufous

Rufous hummingbirds are migratory birds and the second most commonly seen hummingbird in Alabama. On average, out of 10,000 hummingbird sightings in Alabama, 416 will be the Rufous hummingbird.
See Alabama Rufous sightings map

It is amazing to realize in comparing the top 2 commonly seen hummingbird species in Alabama out of 10,000 hummingbird sightings, 9,380 will be Ruby-throated while only 416 will be Rufous hummingbirds.

The Rufous hummingbird gets its name from the Latin word rubrum meaning “red” which is used to describe its reddish-brown coloring.

Male Rufous hummingbirds display an iridescent orange-red gorget with rusty-colored flanks and tails. They have a white to beige underbelly and a black bill. Males can also have green plumage with specks of green color on their rustic-looking backs or on the crown of their head along with chocolate brown dorsal feathers. Their size is 2.8 inches to 3.5 inches in length and weighs 3.2 grams.

Male Rufous Hummingbird
Photo by: jace_the_bird_nerd
Male Rufous Hummingbird
Photo by: Kevin Walsh

Note: The iridescent orange-red gorget.

Juvenile male Rufous hummingbirds have a rustic look with small iridescent orange specks of color on their throats.

Juvenile Rufous hummingbirds are so similar in coloring and temperament to Allen’s hummingbirds that they are practically indistinguishable in the field. Therefore, identification is established by range rather than appearance.

Juvenile Male Rufous Hummingbird
Photo by: Rekha Pawar

Note: His throat feathers are slowly coming in, displaying a few dots of color near his neckline and showing the first stages of adolescence. 

Juvenile Male Rufous Hummingbird
Photo by: Rekha Pawar
Juvenile Male Rufous Hummingbird
Photo by: Rekha Pawar

Note: Preening flight feathers is an important daily routine to maintain hygiene and to keep the feathers flexible, strong, in alignment, and parasite-free.

Female Rufous hummingbirds are green and white with some iridescent orange feathers on their throat. Their tail is dark with white tips and an orange-red base. Female Rufous hummingbirds are slightly larger than the males in anticipation of producing offspring.

Female Rufous Hummingbird
Photo by: Kevin Walsh

They have one of the northernmost breeding ranges of any hummingbird in the world; migrating north from Mexico and nesting as far north as Alaska to breed during the summer months.

They are polygamous and will mate with several partners in a season.

See my article: Hummingbird Parents: (Mating to Nesting)

See my article: Baby Hummingbirds: (Egg to Fledgling)

Rufous hummingbirds make the longest migration of any bird in the world. They travel making a clockwise circuit of western America every year that is approximately 3,900 miles.

This migratory pattern during the seasons coordinates their arrival perfectly while catching nectar and blooming flowers throughout the year, fueling their bodies for their long journey.

Most Rufous hummingbirds will not spend the winter in Alabama and will decide to migrate south to Mexico. However, hummingbirds are much more tolerant of cold temperatures than most people realize.

According to eBird.org, through branding practices in Wisconsin, the Rufous and Ruby-throated hummingbirds have been documented to survive in temperatures of -9F and wind chills of -36F.
See my article: 3 Reasons Why Hummingbirds Are Banded

Some Alabama hummingbird admirers leave hummingbird feeders up all winter long to provide life-nourishing nectar to some Ruby-throated, Rufous, and Black-chinned hummingbirds that usually migrate, however, may choose to over-winter in Alabama.

This selfless act also provides nectar to other injured or older hummingbirds that are unable to migrate.
See my article: 11 DIY Ways to Keep Hummingbird Nectar From Freezing

Rufous hummingbirds are highly territorial and aggressive towards other hummingbirds and animals. They are fearless and have a reputation for being feisty and chasing away not only other hummingbirds but even large birds and rodents from their favorite feeders.

The female mothers have been known to even attack squirrels and chipmunks that come too close to their nests.

Rufous hummingbirds have excellent memories and have been known to investigate the location of an old hummingbird feeder years after the feeder has been removed.

Their flying acrobatic skills can outmaneuver all other hummingbird species, making them extremely competitive at feeders.

Hummingbird enthusiasts are extremely valuable when they plant flowering plants to attract hummingbirds and provide feeders with homemade hummingbird nectar to contribute to a successful migration. These welcoming habitats provide and ensure safe travels as well as a reliable sanctuary for rest and refueling during their journey.

Due to habitat loss in the Pacific Northwest, Rufous hummingbirds are listed at “near threatened” status by the IUCN red list of threatened species.

During a capture and release banding operation in British Columbia, the oldest living recorded female Rufous hummingbird was 8 years and 11 months.
See my article: 3 Reasons Why Hummingbirds Are Banded

BLACK-CHINNED HUMMINGBIRD – (Archilochus alexandri)

Conservation Status: Least concerned
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Aves
Order: Apodiformes
Family: Trochilidae
Genus: Archilochus
Species: A. alexandri

Black-chinned hummingbirds are a migrating species and are considered the hummingbird of the West.
On average, out of 10,000 hummingbird sightings in Alabama, only 121 will be a Black-chinned hummingbird.
See Alabama Black-chinned sightings map

Black-chinned hummingbird’s scientific name is in commemoration of Dr. Alexandre, a French doctor who was the first to discover the species in Mexico.

Male Black-chinned hummingbirds are identified by their royal purple gorget, showing a small glimmer of color right near the neckline like a buttoned-up shirt. Since the male purple gorget or throat color is minimal, at times they can appear to look all black. They have metallic green on their backs and flanks with white on their underbelly. Their dark tail is forked and their bill is black. Their size is 3.25 inches to 3.5 inches in length and weighs 2.8-5.6 grams.

Male Black-Chinned Hummingbird
Photo by: sony_alpha_male
Adult Male Black-Chinned Hummingbird
Photo by: hummingbirdsbysuprise

Female and juvenile Black-chinned hummingbirds have no gorget, but have a dark rounded tail with white tips and beige margins on the dorsal feathers that turn dark black as they mature.  Their head and back reflect the dull metallic marbled colors of beige, greens, whites, yellow-green, and dark browns, looking similar to the scales found on a snake.

Adult Female Black-Chinned Hummingbird
Photo by: hummingbirdsbysuprise

Black-chinned hummingbirds breed east of the Cascade mountain range. They are known to make their nests near larger more active bird nests, reducing the chance of predators around the nest by using a decoy strategy.

Black-chinned hummingbirds have the smallest known genetic material of all living vertebrates or mammals. Because of their small size, they are at risk of being preyed upon by larger insect-eating birds.
See my article: 10 Common Things That Kill Hummingbirds

While typically a territorial species, if Black-chinned hummingbirds find themselves in an area with a large population of hummingbirds and food sources, their territorial behavior reduces, and they will play nice and share.

They hybridize and readily crossbreed with other hummingbird species. Black-chinned hummingbirds can live up to 10 years, which is extremely long in comparison to other birds and animals of similar size.

During a capture and release banding operation in Texas, the oldest living recorded female Black-chinned hummingbird was 11 years and 2 months old.
See my article: 3 Reasons Why Hummingbirds Are Banded

Rare/Vagrant Hummingbirds In Alabama

This hummingbird classification is defined as hummingbirds residing in a group outside of their normal geographic range. Not only do these species of hummingbirds have a wide variety of specific geographic ranges, but they are also known to sometimes interbreed with each other creating hybrids.

These hummingbirds are out of their normal area of occupancy but have been documented as being seen in Alabama.

Note: Hummingbirds listed below are in the most commonly seen order.

BUFF-BELLIED HUMMINGBIRD – (Amazilia yucatanensis)

Conservation Status: Least concerned
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Aves
Order: Apodiformes
Family: Trochilidae
Genus: Amazilia
Species: A. yucatanensis

The Buff-bellied hummingbird travels frequently to the United States near the southern Mexican border. They usually reside in Mexico and as far south as Guatemala during the winter, therefore are rare visitors to Alabama. On average, out of 10,000 hummingbird sightings in Alabama, only 26 will be Buff-bellied hummingbirds.
See Alabama Buff-bellied sightings map

Male Buff-bellied hummingbirds sport a bluish grey-turquoise gorget. They are identified as having a metallic iridescent bronze olive green back with a rusty brownish-gold forked tail. Their dark brown wings can look black in certain lighting. They have a reddish-orange bill with a black tip and their underbelly is chestnut in color. Their size is a medium build ranging from 3.9 inches to 4.3 inches in length and weighs 4-5 grams.

Female Buff-bellied hummingbirds usually are more drab-looking and less showy than the males and usually do not have iridescent feathers.

They prefer to nest in large shrubs or deciduous trees that have dense foliage and forgiving tree branches useful for building a nest.

Juvenile Buff-bellied hummingbirds, both male and female, look more like adult females until they are differentiated as the male begins to acquire the iridescent feathers that are typical of this species of hummingbird. The juvenile’s throat and chest show a duller gray tone in color.

Baby juveniles are easily identified by their white “fluffy butt” feathers that will disappear as they age.

According to Texas A&M AgriLife Research, Buff-bellied hummingbirds have been reported over-wintering in Alabama during the fall and winter months.

Buff-bellied hummingbirds crossbreed with Berylline and Rufous hummingbirds.

During a capture and release banding operation in Texas, the oldest living recorded male Buff-bellied hummingbird was 11 years and 2 months.
See my article: 3 Reasons Why Hummingbirds Are Banded

See pictures of Male, female, and juvenile Buff-bellied hummingbirds

Hear sounds of Buff-bellied hummingbirds

ALLEN’S HUMMINGBIRD – (Selasphorus sasin)

Conservation Status: Least concerned
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Aves
Order: Apodiformes
Family: Trochilidae
Genus: Selasphorus
Species: S. sasin

Allen’s hummingbirds are rare migratory visitors to Alabama because they commonly reside on the West Coast and winter in Mexico. On average, out of 10,000 hummingbird sightings in Alabama, only 22 will be Allen’s hummingbirds.
See Alabama Allen’s sightings map

The common name of Allen’s hummingbird is in commemoration of Charles Andrew Allen (1841-1930), an American collector and taxidermist.

Male Allen’s hummingbirds are green-backed with a green forehead and rust-colored flanks, rump, and tail. When their tail feathers are fanned out you can see their chocolate-colored tips. The gorget of the male Allen’s hummingbird is an iridescent orange-red, however, in darker lighting, it can appear chocolate brown. Allen’s hummingbirds are 3.3 inches to 3.5 inches in length and weigh 2-4 grams.

Adult Male Allen’s Hummingbird

Note: The iridescent orange-red gorget.

Adult Male Allen’s Hummingbird

Note: The gorget can appear chocolate brown in certain lighting. This is the same adult male Allen’s hummingbird featured above.

The females and juveniles have similar coloring as the males, but do not have an iridescent gorget.

Female Allen’s Hummingbird
Photo by: aarongomperts

See my article: Hummingbird Parents: (Mating to Nesting)

See my article: Baby Hummingbirds: (Egg to Fledgling)

Their nesting season is perfectly timed to when the regions have the most rainfall which helps provide prolific nectar producing flowers for their offspring.

Baby/Juvenile Male Allen’s Hummingbird 

Note: This baby/juvenile male Allen’s hummingbird is on a tomato cage defending a feeder. His newly white fluffy down feathers are visible near his bottom. Also, notice the nice fat reserves he has accumulated by being fed by his diligent mother which will sustain him through adolescence. 

Baby/Juvenile Male Allen’s Hummingbird

Note: On a tomato cage and hiding in a tomato plant near a feeder.

Juvenile Allen’s hummingbirds are so similar in coloring and temperament to a Rufous hummingbird that they are practically indistinguishable in the field. Therefore, identification is established by range rather than appearance.

Male Allen’s hummingbirds perform a striking, quick back-and-forth courtship dance resembling the movement of a pendulum. They have one of the most complex territorial dive displays of any North American hummingbird.
See my article: Hummingbird Dance: 5 Interpretive Explanations

Male and female Allen’s hummingbirds are not social birds. They do not associate with one another outside of breeding. Similar to a Rufous hummingbird, Allen’s hummingbirds are highly territorial and aggressive towards other hummingbirds and larger predatory birds such as hawks.

During a capture and release banding operation in California, the oldest living recorded Allen’s hummingbird was 5 years and 11 months old when she was first captured in 2004 and again in 2009.
See my article: 3 Reasons Why Hummingbirds Are Banded

CALLIOPE HUMMINGBIRD – (Selasphorus calliope)

Conservation Status: Least concerned
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Aves
Order: Apodiformes
Family: Trochilidae
Genus: Selasphorus
Species: S. calliope

Calliope hummingbirds are a migrating species and rare visitors to Alabama since they are seen mainly in the Western United States. On average, out of 10,000 hummingbird sightings in Alabama, only 16 will be Calliope hummingbirds.
See Alabama Calliope sightings map

Calliope hummingbirds are named after a Greek mythological muse, who represented poetry and eloquence. Calliope means “beautiful voice” in ancient Greek.

Male Calliope hummingbirds are easily identified by their iridescent purple crown and long striking spaced outline row of feathers that project down the sides of their throat.  Like many hummingbirds, the backs are metallic green and these birds measure 3 inches in length and weigh 2-3 grams.

Adult Male Calliope Hummingbird
Photo by: sony_alpha_male
Juvenile Male Calliope Hummingbird
Photo by: sony_alpha_male

Note: His bright throat feathers are slowly coming in.

Female Calliope hummingbirds usually are more drab-looking than the males and do not have iridescent feathers. The crown or the top of their head is gray-green in color. The flanks which are the sides and undebelly or behind the wings are buff in color.

Female Calliope Hummingbird
Photo by: sony_alpha_male

Like many hummingbirds, Calliopes communicate not just by their song, but also by manipulating their feathers during flight to make different buzzing noises that act as a form of language and communication.

When a female is quietly perched, the male will passionately fly back and forth and engage in a “U” shaped courtship display to gain her attention. During his presentation, the male hummingbird will produce a vocal serenade while swinging his body from side to side in front of the female.
See my article: Hummingbird Dance: 5 Interpretive Explanations

Male Calliope hummingbirds establish a breeding territory and mate with every available female hummingbird that accepts his courtship.

During nest construction, the female Calliope chooses the tops of pine cones as her building site. She will also dismantle nests from previous seasons and recycle them in her new nest along with stealing materials from the nests of other birds in order to construct her own.

Therefore, female Calliopes are often chased and attacked by larger and more aggressive hummingbirds such as Allen’s and Rufous hummingbirds. To avoid these attacks, the Calliope maintains a relatively low profile in comparison to other species.

Calliope hummingbirds are the smallest long-distance migratory bird in the world. Their migratory patterns mimic Rufous hummingbirds with spring migration. During northbound spring migration, they pass through the Pacific Flyways.

On their southbound journey in the fall, they pass through the Pacific and Rocky Mountain Flyways towards their wintering destination in Mexico.

Because Calliope hummingbirds have a more restricted wintering range than most hummingbirds, they are particularly vulnerable to habitat loss and natural disasters, such as climate change and wildfires.

During a capture and release banding operation in Idaho, the oldest living recorded female Calliope hummingbird was 8 years and 11 months old when she was captured twice, once in 2007 and again in 2014.
See my article: 3 Reasons Why Hummingbirds Are Banded

BROAD-TAILED HUMMINGBIRD – (Selsaphoris platycercus)

Conservation Status: Least concerned
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Aves
Order: Apodiformes
Family: Trochilidae
Genus: Selsaphoris
Species: S. platycercus

The Broad-tailed hummingbird travels frequently to the United States near the southern Mexican border. They usually reside in Mexico and as far south as Guatemala during the winter, therefore are rare visitors to Alabama. On average, out of 10,000 hummingbird sightings in Alabama, only 12 will be Broad-tailed hummingbirds.
See Alabama Broad-tailed sightings map

Male Broad-tailed hummingbirds have an iridescent ruby-red gorget. Both males and females Broad-tailed hummingbirds have green topside and pale underbellies with bright white eye rings and broadly rounded tails. Their size is medium build and ranges from 3.3 inches to 3.8 inches in length and weighs 3.6 grams.

Female and juvenile Broad-tailed hummingbirds have no gorget, but have green topsides from their head to their tail and pale to beige underbellies with bright white eye rings and broadly rounded tails. 

The Broad-tailed hummingbird travels frequently to the United States near the southern Mexican border.

They have a migrant and non-migrant population that begins in the south of Mexico. The ones that migrate north to breed will do so during spring migration and will pass through Arizona, Colorado, Wyoming, Idaho and reach as far north as Montana.

Once the breeding season is complete, Broad-tailed hummingbirds will depart and begin their southbound fall migration to winter in Mexico and meet up with their non-migrant population.
See my article: Hummingbird Migration in Alabama

The Broad-tailed hummingbird favors habitats in the understory of mature forest woodlands such as pine and oak groves. They chose to nest on the branches of trees and have been known to return to the same nesting ground each year, roughly 70% of the time.

Their breeding time coincides with the peak time of flowering native plants for maximum food resource availability. Their favorite nectar-producing flower plants include Red Columbine, Indian Paintbrush, Sage varieties, Currants, and Scarlet Mint.

They are promiscuous and do not form any kind of a pair bond between male and female birds and again the female raises the young alone.

The Broad-tailed hummingbird has suffered a decline in population since the 1990s, but presently, its population is stable, and it has been shown to have adapted to human habitat encroachment.

During a capture and release banding operation in Colorado, the oldest living recorded female Broad-tailed hummingbird was 12 years and 2 months.
See my article: 3 Reasons Why Hummingbirds Are Banded

ANNA’S HUMMINGBIRD – (Calypte anna) 

Conservation Status: Least concerned
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Aves
Order: Apodiformes
Family: Trochilidae
Genus: Calypte
Species: C. anna

Anna’s hummingbirds are named after Anna Massena, Duchess of Rivoli. They are a rare visitor to Alabama since they are seen mainly in the Western United States. On average, out of 10,000 hummingbird sightings in Alabama, only 3 will be Anna’s hummingbirds.
See Alabama Anna’s sightings map

Anna’s hummingbirds are the only hummingbirds to stay year-round on the Pacific Coast. These hummingbirds live in a Mediterranean climate with moderate wet winters and hot dry summers. 

Male Anna’s hummingbirds are the only hummingbird species in North America with a red crown. They are identified as mostly green, gray, and magenta in color. The males have a flashy and colorful iridescent magenta gorget and crown. Their size ranges from3.5 inches to 4.3 inches in length and they weigh 2.4 to 4.5 grams.

The gorget on a male hummingbird is named after the protective metal piece in a suit of armor that covers the wearer’s throat to prevent injury when in battle. Since male hummingbirds are very aggressive with each other when fighting for their own territory, this name is appropriate and fitting to describe their physical attributes.

Adult Male Anna’s Hummingbird
Photo by: Kevin Walsh

Note: The iridescent magenta gorget and crown with a metallic green shiny back.

Adult Male Anna’s Hummingbird
Photo by: rwm_inthewild

Female Anna’s hummingbirds are overall not as colorful as the males, appearing pale green in color. Females can also have a gorget, but it is a smaller patch of magenta. Females tend to have a pale white line over each eye that makes them distinctive.

Adult Female Anna’s Hummingbird
Photo by: rwm_inthewild
Female and Baby/Juvenile Anna’s Hummingbird
Photo by: Mehta.vishal.360

Female Anna’s hummingbirds raise their young with no help from the males.

See my article: Hummingbird Parents: (Mating to Nesting)

See my article: Baby Hummingbirds: (Egg to Fledgling)

Juvenile Anna’s hummingbirds, both male and female, look more like adult females until they are differentiated as the male begins to acquire the bright red/magenta gorget.

Baby juveniles are easily identified by their white “fluffy butt” feathers that will disappear as they age.

Baby/Juvenile Male Anna’s Hummingbird
Photo by: Kevin Walsh

Note: This baby/juvenile male Anna’s hummingbird is beginning to show his magenta head feathers near his temple along with some faint color starting to show on his gorget. Also, notice the newly white fluffy down feathers near his bottom as well as the nice fat reserves he has accumulated by being fed by his diligent mother. 

Baby/Juvenile Female Anna’s Hummingbird
Photo by: Kevin Walsh
Juvenile Male Anna’s Hummingbird
Photo by: Kevin Walsh

Note: This Anna’s hummingbird could be a juvenile in those awkward teenage years or it could be during a molting stage.

The courtship and dive displays performed by Anna’s hummingbirds are theatrical and entertaining. From the beginning to the end, the full dive display lasts 12 seconds.
See my article: Hummingbird Dance: 5 Interpretive Explanations

Unlike many northern temperate hummingbirds, male Anna’s hummingbirds sing during courtship along with making vibrations with their tail feathers to attract a female.

Anna’s hummingbirds protect their territory with elaborate dives targeted towards predatory birds and even towards people they perceive to be threatening. 

Anna’s hummingbirds hybridize, cross- breeding readily with Black-chinned and Rufous hummingbirds.

During a capture and release banding operation in Arizona, the oldest living recorded male Anna’s hummingbird was 8 years and 2 months.
See my article: 3 Reasons Why Hummingbirds Are Banded

RIVOLI’S HUMMINGBIRD aka MAGNIFICENT – (Eugenes fulgens)

Conservation Status: Least concerned
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Aves
Order: Apodiformes
Family: Trochilidae
Genus: Eugenes
Species: E. fulgens

Rivoli’s hummingbirds are predominantly found in Mexico, Guatemala, and Nicaragua, therefore they are considered rare in Alabama. On average, out of 10,000 hummingbird sightings in Alabama, only 2 will be a Rivoli’s hummingbird.
See Alabama Rivoli’s sightings map

Although they do travel frequently to the United States near the southern Mexican border, most of their population stays year-round in Mexico and Central America.

The Rivoli’s hummingbird (pronounced: rivo-lee) aka the “Magnificent” hummingbird has undergone several name changes. It was changed to the “Magnificent” hummingbird in 1983  then to “Refulgent” hummingbird only to have the “Rivoli’s” hummingbird name return in 2017 when the species was split into two variations (Rivoli’s and Talamanca). Rivoli’s hummingbird is named in honor of Francois Victor Massena, the Duke of Rivoli, by the ornithologist Rene-Primevera Lesson.

Male Rivoli’s hummingbirds are somewhat dark in color except when they are shown in bright daylight, where their violet crown, bright blue-green gorget, and white eyespots are more apparent through iridescence. They are 4.3 to 5.5 inches in length and weigh 6-10 grams. 

They are considered the second largest hummingbird in the United States, behind the Blue-throated Mountain-gem which is the largest.

Male Rivoli’s Hummingbird
Photo by: thehummingbirdguy
Male Juvenile Rivoli’s Hummingbird
Photo by: thehummingbirdguy

Female Rivoli’s hummingbirds are slightly duller in color than the males showing a bronzy green topside and dull gray underbellies with bright white eye accents. 

Female Rivoli’s Hummingbird
Photo by: Hummingbirdsbysuprise

Juvenile Rivoli’s hummingbirds, both male and female, look more like adult females until they are differentiated as the male begins to acquire the violet crown, bright blue-green gorget, and white eyespots that are typical of this species of hummingbird. 

Baby juveniles are easily identified by their white “fluffy butt” feathers that will disappear as they age.

They prefer to live in ravines while feeding in open meadows and will nest in trees overhanging streams and creeks. Their breeding habitat consists of building nests in evergreen coniferous trees such as pine, fir and juniper. 

Rivoli’s hummingbirds hybridize with other species of hummingbirds, even though it is rare, with Berylline, Broad-billed, Blue-throated Mountain-gem, and Violet-crowned hummingbirds.

During a capture and release banding operation in Arizona, the oldest living recorded male Rivoli’s hummingbird was 11 years and 2 months.

See my article:  3 Reasons Why Hummingbirds Are Banded

BROAD-BILLED HUMMINGBIRD – (Cynanthus latirostris)

Conservation Status: Least concerned
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Aves
Order: Apodiformes
Family: Trochilidae
Genus: Cynanthus
Species: C. latirostris

The Broad-billed hummingbird, usually residing in Mexico and as far south as Guatemala during the winter, is a rare visitor to Alabama. On average, out of 10,000 hummingbird sightings in Alabama, only 1 will be a Broad-billed hummingbird.
See Alabama Broad-billed sightings map

Male Broad-billed hummingbirds feature a bright blue-green gorget that spreads back towards its shoulders. Juvenile males show off a full charcoal dark gray body with flecks of metallic blue on their throat and a light green neck and backside. They sport a long beak that is bright orange-red accented with a signature black tip. Their size ranges from 3.25 inches to 4 inches in length and weighs 3-4 grams.

Adult Male Broad-Billed Hummingbird
Photo by: Aaron Gomperts

Female Broad-billed hummingbirds usually are more drab-looking than the males and usually do not have iridescent feathers. They have a completely dark bill and a longer white accent above the eyes. They are identified as having a predominantly metallic green topside with a white underbelly. Their tails are dark in color and forked.

Juvenile Broad-billed hummingbirds, both male and female, look more like adult females until they are differentiated as the male begins to acquire the iridescent feathers that are typical of this species of hummingbird. 

Young Adult Male Broad-Billed Hummingbird
Photo by: Aaron Gomperts

Baby juveniles are easily identified by their white “fluffy butt” feathers that will disappear as they age.

Broad-billed hummingbird nests are distinguishable because they do not decorate the outside of their nests with lichens but instead choose to construct their nests with outside grass fibers, bits of leaves, and bark while using spider webs to glue and hold the nest together. The nest the female builds hangs on a single long slender branch.

Astonishingly, unlike other hummingbird population counts, the Broad-billed hummingbird has shown an actual general population increase in recent years.

In Arizona, the oldest recorded male Broad-billed hummingbird was 9 years and 1 month old when he was captured and released from a banding operation.
See my article: 3 Reasons Why Hummingbirds Are Banded

BLUE-THROATED MOUNTAIN-GEM HUMMINGBIRD aka BLUE-THROATED HUMMINGBIRD – (Lampornis clemenciae)

Conservation Status: Least concerned
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Aves
Order: Apodiformes
Family: Trochilidae
Genus: Lampornis
Species: L. clemenciae

The Blue-throated Mountain-gem hummingbird aka Blue-throated hummingbird is a Mexican species and a rare visitor to Alabama. On average, out of 10,000 hummingbird sightings in Alabama, none will be a Blue-throated Mountain-gem hummingbird. It will take 40,000 sightings before 1 will be a Blue-throated Mountain-gem.
See Alabama Blue-throated Mountain-gem sightings map

The best way to discover and locate Blue-throated Mountain-gem hummingbirds is to visit the “sky island” mountain ranges of southeastern Arizona or the Chisos Mountains of Texas.

Male Blue-throated Mountain-gem hummingbirds feature a bright iridescent cobalt blue gorget and dramatic white stripes over both of its eyes.  His wings and tail are dark with the tips of his tail painted white. Blue-throated Mountain-gem hummingbirds expose a dull greenish-gray color all over its body emphasizing more patches of a grayish-emerald green on their head, neck, and the top part of the shoulder where the wing attaches. Their size is 4.3 inches to 4.7 inches in length and weigh 8.1-8.6 grams.

Male Blue-Throated Mountain-Gem Hummingbird
Photo by: rekhakpawar
Male Blue-Throated Mountain-Gem Hummingbird
Photo by: rekhakpawar

Female Blue-throated Mountain-gem hummingbirds usually are more drab-looking than the males and usually do not have iridescent and distinctive blue throat feathers. They have a double white stripe on their face with gray underparts.

Juvenile Blue-throated Mountain-gem hummingbirds, both male and female, look more like adult females until they are differentiated as the male begins to acquire the iridescent feathers that are typical of this species of hummingbird. 

Baby juveniles are easily identified by their white “fluffy butt” feathers that will disappear as they age.

According to The Cornell Lab, Blue-throated Mountain-gem hummingbirds are 3x heavier than the Ruby-throated hummingbird. This species is the largest hummingbird species to nest in the United States.

Partially because of their large size, Blue-throated Mountain-gem hummingbirds have the slowest recorded wingbeat rate of any known hummingbird. It takes a lot longer and more effort for a hummingbird with an extended wingspan to flap their wings in a figure-eight motion than it does for a smaller, more petite hummingbird. 

Think of it visually on a larger scale between a Bald eagle’s wingspan ranging between 5.9-7.5 feet in length and a crow ranging between 2.8-3.3 feet in length. It takes more effort to be in motion for one over the other.

Most North American hummingbirds have a courtship dance to entice a female and catch her attention before mating. Male Blue-throated Mountain-gem hummingbirds are an exception to the rule and do not show an aerial display. However, the females make an identifiable call and a sequence of short flights to the male signaling he has been chosen and she is ready for copulation.

Blue-throated Mountain-gem hummingbirds are mountainous birds that prefer to nest on rock overhangs or on human residential structures. They are known to return to the same nest each year, stacking new nests on top of old nests until they resemble a tall tower.

Blue-throated Mountain-gem hummingbirds become aggressive and territorial over flower types with a higher sugar content and will violently defend them from invaders, which is typical for most hummingbirds. They are heavily insectivorous due to the energy necessities of their size, and as a result, eat more insects than any other hummingbird species.

They hybridize with other hummingbird species holding little to no judgment on choosing a larger species, such as the Rivoli’s aka Magnificent hummingbird or a smaller species, the Anna’s, Black-chinned, and Costa’s hummingbirds with which to procreate. 

During a capture and release banding operation in Arizona, the oldest living recorded male Blue-throated Mountain-gem hummingbird was 7 years and 11 months.
See my article: 3 Reasons Why Hummingbirds Are Banded

MEXICAN VIOLETEAR (aka GREEN VIOLETEAR) HUMMINGBIRD – (Colibri thalassinus)  

Conservation Status: Least concerned
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Aves
Order: Apodiformes
Family: Trochilidae
Genus: Colibri
Species: C. thalassinus

The Mexican violetear AKA Green Violetear (Violet-ear) hummingbird migrates from the tropical regions of Central America and is considered extremely rare when sited in Alabama. On average, out of 10,000 hummingbird sightings in Alabama, none will be a Mexican violetear aka Green violetear hummingbird. It will take 40,000 hummingbird sightings before 1 would be a Mexican Violetear/Green Violetear.
See Alabama Mexican violetear sightings map

If a hummingbird enthusiast is fortunate enough to see a Mexican violetear hummingbird in Alabama, consider it as lucky as winning the jackpot in Las Vegas.

The Mexican violetear gets its name from the Latin word thalassinus meaning “color of the sea”. 

Male Mexican violetear hummingbirds are iridescent green in color with a show of bright violet ear patches on each side of their neck (hence the name “violet-ears”). The tail of this hummingbird is metallic blue-green with bronze central tail feathers that feature a black band underneath. Their size ranges from 3.8 inches to 4.7 inches in length and they weigh 5-6 grams. 

Female Mexican violetear hummingbirds usually are less colorful than the males and usually do not have iridescent and distinctive violet ear patches on each side of their neck. 

Juvenile Mexican violetear hummingbirds, both male and female, look more like adult females until they are differentiated as the male begins to acquire the iridescent violet ear patches on each side of their neck that are typical of this species of hummingbird. 

Baby juveniles are easily identified by their white “fluffy butt” feathers that will disappear as they age.

These species of hummingbirds are found on the edge of cloud forests from Mexico to Nicaragua, where they enjoy a high level of tropical humidity in their environment. This dark hummingbird is commonly seen in forest clearings and edges. 

Mexican violetear hummingbirds are somewhat nomadic. Scientists do not know much about their migration patterns as they have not been well-studied. But of the data that has been collected, the Mexican violetear is typically found in central Mexico, Central America, and northern South America.  

While mostly a permanent resident throughout its normal range, some individual Mexican violetear hummingbirds have strayed and wandered as far north as Wisconsin, Michigan, and even Canada. 

Like many other kinds of hummingbirds, the Mexican violetear hummingbird is a solitary nester.  They forage for nectar and insects alone rather than in a flock, but groups of these hummingbirds can be seen around flowering trees, such as the coffee-shade Inga tree.

Is Alabama Attractive to Hummingbirds?

Alabama attracts hummingbirds because of its humid subtropical climate, its diversity in elevation from sea level to over 2,000 feet above sea level, forests that cover 69% of the state, agriculture land covering 27% of the state, and rainfall annually of more than 56 inches annually.

On average, Alabama night time temperatures are above freezing all 12 months of the year.
December, January, and February nighttime lows, on average, are 37, 35,and 38 degrees Fahrenheit respectively.
The lowest night-time recorded temperature in Alabama was -27 degrees Fahrenheit on January 30, 1966.

See my article: Should I keep My Hummingbird Feeders Out During the Winter

See my article: 11 DIY Ways To Keep Hummingbird Nectar From Freezing

The hottest months of the year in Alabama are May through September all with daytime high temperatures of 84, 90, 92, 92, and 87 degrees Fahrenheit respectively, however, Alabama’s all time high was set in 1925 at 112 degrees Fahrenheit
See my article: How to Cool Hummingbird Nectar in Hot Weather

Hummingbirds play an important part of West Alabama agriculture.
Hummingbirds are the second most important pollinator, only exceeded in importance to the honeybee.

This combination of climate and land use makes Alabama a good choice for some hummingbirds, especially the Ruby-throated hummingbird, the species of hummingbirds that dominate the Alabama landscape.

See my article: Hummingbird Migration in Alabama

Happy Hummingbird Watching!

Elizabeth Donaldson

Hi Everyone! I have always been fascinated and amazed by the skill, strength, and beauty of hummingbirds. I hope this article answered your questions.

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