Hummingbirds Found in South Dakota: (Pictures and Sounds)

What types of hummingbirds are found in South Dakota?

There are 9 hummingbird species found in South Dakota.

  • Anna’s – (Calypte anna)
  • Black-chinned – (Archilochus alexandri)
  • Broad-billed – (Cynanthus latirostris)
  • Broad-tailed – (Selsaphoris platycercus)
  • Calliope – (Selasphorus calliope)
  • Costa’s – (Calypte costae)
  • Ruby-throated – (Archilochus colubris)
  • Rufous – (Selasphorus rufus)
  • White-eared Hummingbird (Hylocharis leucotis)

South Dakota, known as The Mount Rushmore State, is “home” to 1 out of the 9 hummingbird species seen in South Dakota, the Ruby-throated hummingbird.

According to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), Ruby-throated hummingbirds are the only ones that breed, nest, and raise their families in South Dakota.

While it is easy to assume all hummingbirds are the same when we see them only as a jewel-toned flash of color as they jet around our hanging flowers and porches; they have different temperaments, varied nesting habits, diverse coloring and reside in multiple geographical ranges.

Hummingbirds are known to exist within certain established ranges, either as year-round natives or as part of a migratory cycle.

Categories of Hummingbirds:

There are 3 categories of hummingbirds found in South Dakota. Year-round natives, seasonal, and rare “vagrant” hummingbirds.

Year-round hummingbirds in South Dakota are rare, but they can survive sub-freezing temperatures and even a few days of sub-zero temperatures.

Seasonal hummingbirds are those hummingbirds that choose the long flights south in the winter.

“Vagrant” hummingbirds are those hummingbirds that show up in geographical areas far outside their established range and are known in the ornithological circles as “vagrants”.

Year-Round/Native Hummingbirds:

The ONLY hummingbird that may be seen in South Dakota year-round:

  • Ruby-throated – (Archilochus colubris)

Year-round hummingbirds in South Dakota are rare but they can survive sub-freezing temperatures and even a few days of sub-zero temperatures.

Most will choose to migrate south for the winter but some of the brave and hardy hummingbirds may choose to tolerate the cold. The ones that choose to tolerate the cold feel this option is less life-threatening than flying thousands of miles south for the winter. 

Seasonal Hummingbirds:

South Dakotans will see 1 seasonal hummingbird species from early May to the end of September.

  • Ruby-throated – (Archilochus colubris)

Rare/Vagrant Hummingbirds:

These hummingbirds are outside of their normal geographic range when found in South Dakota, but are occasionally spotted.

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.

Click links to The Cornell Lab’s sightings map to view where in South Dakota they were seen.

  • Anna’s(Calypte anna)
  • Black-chinned(Archilochus alexandri)
  • Broad-billed – (Cynanthus latirostris)
  • Broad-tailed (Selsaphoris platycercus)
  • Calliope(Selasphorus calliope)
  • Costa’s – (Calypte costae)
  • Rufous(Selasphorus rufus)  
  • White-eared Hummingbird (Hylocharis leucotis)

Because of human intervention, in the form of feeding stations and the transplant of exotic flowers in residential areas, some hummingbirds in mild climates are staying rather than migrating.

Read on to find out more about each of these hummingbird species as well as where and when they can be found in South Dakota.

Year-Round/Native Hummingbirds

Year-round hummingbirds from South Dakota, although rare, are the same as the seasonal hummingbird listed below, the Ruby-throated hummingbird.

Seasonal Hummingbirds

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 are a year-round native bird to South Dakota and are most commonly seen as a summer breeding species in eastern South Dakota. Their main residence is mostly in the mid-west and on the east coast of the United States.

The Ruby-throated hummingbird’s scientific name originated from Carl Linnaeus, a Swedish botanist, who first listed this scientific classification as “Trochilus colubris”. It’s 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 hummingbirds 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. 

Adult Male Ruby-throated Hummingbird
Photo by: MaryLou Ziebarth
Adult Male Ruby-Throated Hummingbird
Photo by: paulapaintsart

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: paulapaintsart

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 females show a light faint grey stippling on their throat. As both sexes mature their less vivid and lighter colored plumage will begin to mature and become darker in color.

Juvenile Ruby-Throated Hummingbird
Photo by: MaryLou Ziebarth

Note: This juvenile Ruby-throated 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)

Baby/Juvenile Ruby-Throated Hummingbird
Photo by: MaryLou Ziebarth

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.

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, 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 as to why one group of birds would prefer to take one route over the other.

See my article: Hummingbird Migration in South Dakota

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

See pictures of male, female, and juvenile Ruby-throated hummingbirds here…..

Hear sounds of Ruby-throated hummingbirds here…..

Rare/Vagrant Hummingbirds

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 South Dakota since they are seen mainly in the Western United States.

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.

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.

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.
If you look closely you can see his newly white fluffy down feathers near his bottom, along with some nice fat reserves which will sustain him through adolescence.

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

The Anna’s hummingbird predominantly breeds in northern Baja California and parts of Southern California, however, due to the transplanting of exotic ornamental plants in residential areas along the Pacific Coast and Inland Deserts, their breeding range has expanded up the Western Seaboard. Anna’s hummingbirds have the northernmost year-round range of any hummingbird species.

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

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

See pictures of male, female and juvenile Anna’s hummingbirds here…..

Hear sounds of Anna’s hummingbirds here…..

BLACK-CHINNED HUMMINGBIRD – (Archilochus alexandri)

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

According to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), Black-chinned hummingbirds are rarely seen in South Dakota.

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.

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.

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 weigh 2.8-5.6 grams.

Male Black-Chinned Hummingbird
Photo by: sony_alpha_male
Male Black-Chinned Hummingbird
Photo by: shaunwilseyphotography

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.

Female Black-Chinned Hummingbird
Photo by: hummingbirdsbysurprise

Black-chinned hummingbirds have the smallest known genetic material of all living vertebrates or mammals.

Because of their small size, Black-chinned hummingbirds are at risk of being preyed upon by larger insect-eating birds or larger insects such as a praying mantis. Black-chinned hummingbirds are known to use a decoy strategy by constructing their nest near larger and more active bird nests reducing the chance of predators around their nest.
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 of plenty, their territorial behaviors will reduce and they will play nice and share.

See pictures of male, female and juvenile Black-chinned hummingbirds here…..

Hear sounds of Black-chinned hummingbirds here…..

BROAD-BILLED HUMMINGBIRD – (Cynanthus latirostris)

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

Broad-billed hummingbirds are rare/vagrants to South Dakota according to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) and travel frequently to the United States near the southern Mexican border.

Male Broad-billed hummingbirds feature a bright blue-green gorget that spreads back towards its shoulders. Juvenile males show off a full charcoal dark grey 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 are identified with a completely dark bill and a longer white accent above the eyes.

Juvenile male and female Broad-billed hummingbirds are both predominantly metallic green on their topside with a white underbelly. Their tails are dark in color and forked.

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

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 that 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

See pictures of male, female, and juvenile Broad-billed hummingbirds here…..

Hear sounds of Broad-billed hummingbirds here…..

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, though usually residing in Mexico and as far south as Guatemala during the winter, is a rare/vagrant hummingbird resident to South Dakota.

According to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), Broad-tailed hummingbirds can be witnessed, although rare in recent years, in the Black Hills of western South Dakota.

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 once again depart and begin their southbound fall migration to Mexico to winter and meet up with their non-migrant population.

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.

Male Broad-Tailed Hummingbird
Photo by: shaunwilseyphotography
Male Broad-Tailed Hummingbird
Photo by: shaunwilseyphotography

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 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.

Female Broad-Tailed Hummingbird
Photo by: shaunwilseyphotography
Female Broad-Tailed Hummingbird
Photo by: shaunwilseyphotography
Flower: Scarlet Mint

Note: Hummingbirds beat their wings 80 beats per second. While hovering, the wings move back and forth forming a figure eight or infinity symbol. This powerful movement creates a fanning effect as noticed by the ruffling feathers on both sides of her lower back. 

Juvenile Male Broad-Tailed Hummingbird
Photo by: shaunwilseyphotography

Note: The thick blanket of pollen on its bill and throat. This juvenile Broad-tailed hummingbird has been busy pollinating and drinking nectar from flowers to sustain its high metabolism.

Baby/Juvenile Broad-Tailed Hummingbird
Photo by: shaunwilseyphotography

Note: The newly white fluffy down feathers on this baby/juvenile Broad-tailed 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.

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.

See pictures of male, female, and juvenile Broad-tailed hummingbirds here…..

Hear sounds of Broad-tailed hummingbirds here…..

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

The Cornell Lab sightings map shows a few observed migrations in the southwestern and middle region of South Dakota, therefore making them rare/vagrants.

Calliope hummingbirds are the smallest long-distance migratory bird in the world. They arrive in the spring as early as April passing 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.

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 have gray-green crowns and buff-colored flanks which are the underbelly or wing of a bird. Females sport dark tails with white tips.

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. 

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 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.

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

See pictures of male, female and juvenile Calliope hummingbirds here…..

Hear sounds of Calliope hummingbirds here…..

COSTA’S HUMMINGBIRD – (Calypte costae)

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

The Costa’s hummingbird, though usually residing in Mexico and as far south as Guatemala during the winter, is a rare accidental vagrant hummingbird to South Dakota.

Costa’s hummingbird was named in1839 by Jules Bourcier to commemorate Louis Marie Pantaleon Costa, the French ornithologist who was an avid collector of hummingbirds.

Male Costa’s hummingbirds have a bright reddish-purple cap and gorget. Their gorget has long streaming throat feathers, similar to a Calliope hummingbird. Having green backs and flanks, their back and wings are black and their throat and tail have patches of white. Their size ranges from 3 inches to 3.5 inches in length and weighs 2-3 grams.

Adult Male Costa’s Hummingbird
Photo by: hummingbirdsbysuprise
Juvenile Male Costa’s Hummingbird
Photo by: hummingbirdsbysuprise

Note: His bright throat feathers are slowly coming in.

Female Costa’s hummingbirds are not as vibrant and display in color, a grayish-light green back with a dusty white underbelly.

Adult Female Costa’s Hummingbird
Photo by: hummingbirdsbysuprise

Female Costa’s hummingbirds migrate north to breed. They are a desert-dwelling species and build their nests in open areas with scarce vegetative cover. They have been known to nest on the tops of cacti. The thorns of the plant act as a deterrent to predators that may attempt to eat the eggs or nestlings.

Their habitat consists of desert scrub and washes including grasslands where they thrive on desert plants or ocotillos.

Male Costa’s hummingbirds are extremely territorial and can come across as being the meanest sheriff in town, especially when defending “their” feeders. Their aggressive conduct is equivalent to the known quarrelsome and combative behaviors of the Rufous hummingbird.

Adult Male and Female Costa’s Hummingbird
Photo by: hummingbirdsbysuprise

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

Costa’s hummingbirds have no known predators, however, the largest threat to Costa’s hummingbirds is human encroachment in the form of the desert being plowed and cleared for settlement and grazing.

They are known to interbreed and produce hybrids between Anna’s and Black-chinned hummingbirds.

See pictures of male, female and juvenile Costa’s hummingbirds here…..

Hear sounds of Costa’s hummingbirds here…..

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 migrating hummingbirds that travel through South Dakota to their preferred nesting location. They are a rare visitor to South Dakota since they are seen mainly in the Western United States.

According to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), Rufous hummingbirds migrate as far north as Alaska during the summer. 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.

Fall migration begins in June for some Rufous hummingbirds and they use both travel routes between the Pacific and Rocky Mountain Flyways to reach their southern overwintering destination in Mexico. During spring migration those that choose to travel do so mostly along the Pacific Flyway.

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 tail. 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: Kevin Walsh

Note: The iridescent orange-red gorget.

Male Rufous Hummingbird
Photo by: Kevin Walsh

Note: The gorget appears chocolate brown in this lighting, however, you can still see a glimmer of his iridescent orange-red gorget with some hints of yellow.

Male Rufous Hummingbird
Photo by: Kevin Walsh
Plant: Blue Elf Aloe

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 an Allen’s hummingbird that they are practically indistinguishable in the field. Therefore, identification is established by range rather than appearance.

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.

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

Rufous hummingbirds are highly territorial and aggressive towards other hummingbirds and animals. They are fearless and have a reputation for chasing away not only other hummingbirds but even large birds and rodents from their favorite feeders. They have been known to even attack squirrels and chipmunks that come too close to their nest.

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

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.

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

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

See pictures of male, female and juvenile Rufous hummingbirds here…..

Hear sounds of Rufous hummingbirds here…..

WHITE-EARED HUMMINGBIRD – (Hylocharis leucotis)

Conservation Status: Least concerned
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Aves
Order: Apodiformes
Family: Trochilidae
Genus: Hylocharis
Species: H. leucotis

White-eared hummingbirds are a common resident to Mexico and Nicaragua, therefore they are considered rare/vagrants to the state of South Dakota.

The White-eared hummingbird’s scientific name is Basilinna leucotis, but its higher classification name that most people use is Hylocharis leucotis which is a combination of the genus name Hylocharis and species name Leucotis. The White-eared hummingbird gets its scientific name from the Latin word (hylo) “wood or matter,” (charis) derived from a Greek word meaning goddesses of beauty and grace; (leuco) in Latin means “white or without color” and (otis) meaning “ear”.

Adult male White-eared hummingbirds have a spectrum of green colors on their back ranging from a Granny Smith apple green to dark emerald with patches of iridescent turquoise on their throats. In darker lighting, their crown and throat can appear black. They possess a distinct and noticeable white stripe that spans from the eye to the neck. Their bill is shorter than the average hummingbird bill and is half red and black. Their size ranges from 3.5 inches to 3.9 inches in length and weighs 3-4 grams.

These species of hummingbirds are found on the edge of cloud forests from Mexico to Nicaragua where they prefer constant rainfall and tropical humidity in their environment.

See pictures and hear sounds of White-eared hummingbirds here…..

Keep your eyes peeled, observe and enjoy the multiple types of hummingbirds found in South Dakota!

See my article: Hummingbird Migration in South Dakota

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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