Hummingbirds Found in Wisconsin: (Pictures and Sounds)

What types of hummingbirds are found in Wisconsin?

There are 6 hummingbird species found in Wisconsin.

  • Allen’s – (Selasphorus sasin)
  • Anna’s – (Calypte anna)
  • Broad-billed – (Cynanthus latirostris)
  • Green violetear / Mexican-violetear – (Colibri thalassinus)
  • Ruby-throated – (Archilochus colubris)
  • Rufous – (Selasphorus rufus)

Wisconsin, known as The Badger State, is “home” (breeds in Wisconsin) to 1 out of the 6 hummingbird species seen in Wisconsin, the Ruby-throated hummingbird.

The only hummingbird that lives and nests in Wisconsin, according to eBird.org, is the Ruby-throated hummingbird; all other hummingbirds seen in Wisconsin are just passing through to their nesting destination.

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 Wisconsin; Year-round natives, seasonal, and rare “Vagrant” hummingbirds.

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

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

“Vagrant” hummingbirds in Wisconsin 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:

Hummingbirds that may be seen in Wisconsin year-round:
See site maps in Wisconsin here:

Year-round hummingbirds in Wisconsin are rare and 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:

Wisconsinites will see 2 seasonal hummingbird species from early May to the end of September.
See site maps in Wisconsin here:

Rare/Vagrant Hummingbirds:

These hummingbirds are outside of their normal geographic range when found in Wisconsin, 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.
See site maps in Wisconsin here:

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 Wisconsin.

Year-Round/Native 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 the most commonly seen and can be a year-round native bird to Wisconsin. Their main residence is mostly in the midwest and on the east coast of the United States.

Sightings map documents the Ruby-throated hummingbird is seen in every area of Wisconsin.

The only hummingbird that lives and nests in Wisconsin, according to eBird.org, is the Ruby-throated hummingbird; all other hummingbirds seen in Wisconsin are just passing through to their nesting destination.

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: andy_raupp
Taken: Wisconsin
Adult Male Ruby-throated Hummingbird
Photo by: andy_raupp
Taken: Wisconsin
Adult Male Ruby-throated Hummingbird
Photo by: andy_raupp
Taken: Marquette County, Wisconsin

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: andy_raupp

Note: The photo was taken in Marquette County, Wisconsin. The flower that this female Ruby-throated hummingbird is drinking from is called Salvia – ‘Rhea’

Female Ruby-Throated Hummingbird
Photo by: andy_raupp
Taken: Wisconsin Flower: Tiger Lily

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: andy_raupp
Taken: Marquette County, Wisconsin
Juvenile Ruby-Throated Hummingbird
Photo by: andy_raupp
Taken: Marquette County, Wisconsin
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 Wisconsin

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…..

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 a migrating species and the second most commonly seen hummingbird in Wisconsin. They are slowly building up a reputation for handling colder regions more effectively than Ruby-throated hummingbirds.

Rufous hummingbirds are more tolerant of the extreme cold and have been documented by eBird.org through banding practices and have been seen in temperatures of -9 degrees Fahrenheit with a wind chill factor of -36 degrees Fahrenheit during the winter.

See my article:  3 Reasons Why Hummingbirds Are Banded

The height of the season to witness Rufous migrants in Wisconsin is during fall migration from late October to early December.

Some Wisconsinite hummingbird admirers leave hummingbird feeders up all winter long to provide life-nourishing nectar to the most commonly seen residents in Wisconsin, the Ruby-throated and Rufous hummingbirds.

This selfless act also provides nectar to other migrating species unable to migrate because of injury or old age.
See my article: 11 DIY Ways to Keep Hummingbird Nectar From Freezing

A sightings map documents the Rufous hummingbird is seen in every area of Wisconsin.

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.

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

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: 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 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 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…..

Seasonal Hummingbirds

Wisconsin’s seasonal hummingbirds are the same as year-round hummingbirds that are identified above, the Ruby-throated and the Rufous hummingbirds.

Rare/Vagrant 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 Wisconsin because they commonly reside and nest along the California coast and winter in Mexico. However, some continue their migration and wander farther east into Wisconsin, south into Texas and continue their journey as far as Florida being noted as rare migrants.

The Cornell Lab sightings map shows Allen hummingbirds are very rare and seen mostly in southern Wisconsin.

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

Male Allen’s hummingbird shows an iridescent orange-red gorget. They 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. 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.

Females and juveniles Allen’s hummingbird have similar coloring as the males, but lack the 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)

Juvenile Male Allen’s Hummingbird

Note: On a tomato cage defending a feeder.

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.

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

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 can be aggressive not only towards other hummingbirds but will also attack any species; even larger predatory birds such as hawks.

Their habitat consists of open woodlands, dry chaparral vegetation consisting of dense shrubs, thorny bushes and riparian wetlands.

Allen’s hummingbirds are absent at mountainous elevations above 9,000 feet due to the lack of hummingbird flowers that would otherwise serve as their nectar source.

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

Hear sounds of Allen’s hummingbirds here…..

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 Wisconsin since they are seen mainly in the Western United States.

Sightings map shows Anna’s hummingbirds have been seen in the southern half of the state of Wisconsin.

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.

Photo by: Robert Donaldson
Adult Male Anna’s Hummingbird Photo by: rwm_inthewild
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. 

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.

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…..

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 travel frequently to the United States near the southern Mexican border, however, few rare/vagrants migrate and travel as far north as Wisconsin. 

Sightings map shows the Broad-billed hummingbird has been documented in the eastern mid-section of Wisconsin.

Male Broad-billed hummingbirds feature a bright blue-green gorget that spreads back towards their 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 hang 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…..

GREEN-VIOLETEARS HUMMINGBIRD – (Colibri thalassinus)

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

The Green-violetears or Mexican-violetears (Violet-ear) hummingbird gets its name from the Latin word thalassinus meaning “color of the sea”.

They are a rare/accidental hummingbird to Wisconsin because they are mostly a resident of Mexico and Central America. Recently, there have been some seasonal movements observed as they wander into the United States as far north as Wisconsin, Michigan, and even Canada. 

Sightings map document the Mexican-violetears hummingbird has been seen in western Wisconsin.

Male Green-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.

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 edges and clearings.

Green-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.  

Like many other kinds of hummingbirds, the Green-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.

See pictures and hear sounds of Mexican violet-ear hummingbirds here…..

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

See my article: Hummingbird Migration in Wisconsin

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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