Hummingbirds in Indiana: 8 Tiny Bird Species To Spot

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Indiana has a humid subtropical climate. The average summer high is 850F, and the winter low is 190F, while the average rainfall is 43 inches. These climatic conditions (along with the varying geological formations) create a range of habitats across the state, including deciduous forests, deserts, grasslands, and wetlands.  

With all of these habitats, Indiana is home to a variety of plant and animal species, including over 413 bird species. Of these species, there is only one hummingbird species, a common resident, namely, the Ruby-throated Hummingbird.

There are, however, two seasonal visitors, the Rufous Hummingbird and the Allen’s Hummingbird. The Anna’s, Black-chinned, Broad-tailed, Calliope, and Green-violetear hummingbirds are also seen in Indiana on rare occasions and are considered rare migrants.

Hummingbirds belong to the Trochilidae family of birds. All species of hummingbird can be found in the Americas. They are generally small in size, eat a combination of nectar from plants and arthropods (insects), and when they hover, they beat their wings between 720 to 5400 times per minute.

We can divide the kinds of hummingbirds found in Indiana into Frequently found, Seasonal visitors, and Uncommon/Rare migrants.

Frequently Found Hummingbirds Of Indiana

Only one species of hummingbird is frequently seen in Indiana.

Ruby-throated Hummingbirds

Ruby-throated Hummingbirds

  • Scientific Name:Archilochus colubris
  • Length: 2.8-3.5 inches
  • Weight: 0.1-0.2 ounce
  • Wingspan: 3.1-4.3 inches

Ruby-throated hummingbirds get their name from the bright red feathers around the males’ throats. Female Ruby-throated hummingbirds have a white throat. Overall, both males and females are emerald green to golden green with those colorful feathers on their backs, sides, wings, and heads, with a gray-white underside.

These common hummingbirds range across most of eastern North America during the summer breeding season. They frequent deciduous trees, gardens, forest edges, meadows, orchards, parks, and backyards with nectar feeders.

Ruby-throated hummingbirds begin to arrive in April when they return to their summer breeding grounds. They usually depart back to their wintering areas in Central America by the end of September.

This beautiful bird’s primary diet consists of nectar from trumpet creepers, cardinal flower, honeysuckle, and red morning glory flowers, among others. They also eat insects caught on the wing and from leaves or spider webs. Male Ruby-throated hummingbirds are territorial and will defend their area from other males.

Seasonal Visitor Hummingbirds Of Indiana

Within Indiana, there is some debate about which hummingbirds are seasonal residents. Bird experts widely agree that the Rufous hummingbird is in this category. However, Allen’s hummingbird is not seen all that often.

Rufous Hummingbirds

Rufous Hummingbirds

  • Scientific Name: Selasphorus rufus
  • Length: 2.8-3.5 inches
  • Weight: 0.1-0.2 ounce
  • Wingspan: 4.3 inches

Male Rufous hummingbirds have orange backs and bellies, orange-red throats with a white patch, white chests, and brown dorsal feathers.  

Female birds have rufous hued flanks and patches on their green tails, with a green head, wings, and back. They also have iridescent orange feathers on their throats.

Rufous hummingbirds’ habitats vary and include forest edges, gardens, mountain meadows, and stream sides. They roam from the western and north-western parts of North America (up to Alaska) to breed.

During November, they arrive in Indiana and other eastern states (where they are found in lowland areas during the spring and warm summer months) and remain until January.

 Their diets consist chiefly of nectar (gilia, penstemons, and Indian paintbrush) and insects caught on the wing or snatched from spider webs.

Rufous hummingbirds are known to be aggressive hummingbirds, often chasing off larger hummingbird species and even predatory birds from their primary food source of flowers and nectar feeders.

Allen’s Hummingbirds

Allen’s Hummingbirds

  • Scientific Name: Selasphorus sasin
  • Length: 3.5 inches
  • Weight: 0.1 ounce
  • Wingspan: 4.3 inches

Male Allen’s hummingbirds have copper-colored tails, eyespots, and bellies. They are bronze-green on their backs and have red-orange throat feathers.

Females have light copper sides and bronze-green backs and heads. They also have bronze flecks on their throats and an orange spot. Both sexes have orange and green as predominant colors.

Allen’s hummingbirds choose habitats that include canyons, coastal forests, scrub, city parks, open oak woods, and suburbs with lots of trees. These hummingbirds are found along the western coast of North America, from California to southern Oregon.

During winter migrations, these hummingbirds head south towards Mexico; there have, however, been sightings of Allen’s hummingbird passing through Indiana.

They have the most impressive mating dance of any North American hummingbird.

Allen’s hummingbirds’ diets consist of nectar and insects, including ants, flies, and small beetles. Frequently visited flowers include Indian paintbrush, penstemon, and red columbine.

Uncommon/Rare Vagrant Hummingbirds In Indiana

The following list of hummingbirds do not frequently occur in Indiana, even as seasonal passersby, and may have been spotted only once in the last few years.

Anna’s Hummingbird

Anna’s Hummingbird

  • Scientific Name: Calypte anna
  • Length: 3.9 inches
  • Weight: 0.1-0.2 ounce
  • Wingspan: 4.7 inches

Male Anna’s hummingbirds have red-pink feathers covering their heads and throat. Both males and females are green and gray overall.

Their distribution is along the Pacific coastline, from northern Mexico to southern Alaska, where they are often found in coastal scrub, city parks, gardens, open woods, and savannas. These hummingbirds move from higher elevations in the summer to lower elevations during the winter.

Their diet consists of nectar from currant, gooseberry, and manzanita plants. They also eat insects, including leafhoppers, midges, and whiteflies.

They usually choose a horizontal branch between six and twenty feet in the air to build their nest. Nests are typically made in oaks, sycamore, or eucalyptus trees.

Black-chinned Hummingbirds

Black-chinned Hummingbirds

  • Scientific Name: Archilochus alexandri
  • Length: 3.5 inches
  • Weight: 0.1-0.2 ounce
  • Wingspan: 4.3 inches

Male and female Black-chinned hummingbirds have metallic green backs, heads, wings, and flanks, with a gray to white color on their underparts. The males also have a black bill and black throat with a thin line of purple feathers at the base. Their dark tail is forked. Females have a pale throat and white tips on their tail feathers.

Black-chinned hummingbirds are located in lowland deserts, mountainous forests, stream sides, oak groves, gardens, and towns. They are found practically everywhere that flowering shrubs and vines and tall trees are located, and their diet primarily consists of nectar and insects. 

The Black-chinned hummingbird is distributed from British Columbia south to Texas and west towards California. During winter migrations, Black-chinned hummingbirds pass through several southeastern states, including Florida, Louisiana, Georgia, and Mississippi, while en route to Mexico.

Broad-tailed Hummingbirds

Broad-tailed Hummingbirds

  • Scientific Name: Selasphorus platycercus
  • Length: 3.1-3.5 inches
  • Weight: 0.1-0.2 ounce
  • Wingspan: 5.25 inches

Broad-tailed hummingbirds have green backs, heads, and tails. They also have green or buff-hued flanks with a white chest.

Males have throat feathers of a magenta color, while females have green spotted throats and cheeks. The female Broad-tailed hummingbird also has a white-tipped tail and a light-colored ring around its eyes.

Broad-tailed hummingbirds are found in a range of habitats, including meadows (at high elevations), near evergreen forests, and oak woodlands. These hummingbirds are distributed from western Canada to Western Mexico through the west of the United States.

During migrations, the Broad-tailed hummingbird begins moving south in early August and north in early March.

This mild-mannered hummingbird’s diet consists of nectar and insects.

Calliope Hummingbirds

Calliope Hummingbirds

  • Scientific Name: Selasphorus calliope
  • Length: 3.1-3.5 inches
  • Weight: 0.1 ounce
  • Wingspan: 4.1-4.3 inches

Male Calliope hummingbirds have iridescent magenta throats. They also have a green chest. Both sexes are green on their backs, heads, wings, and tails. Females have a peach hue on their underside but lack an iridescent throat.

Calliope hummingbirds are often found in aspen thickets, canyons, open forest glades, and mountain meadows. They are distributed from southern Canada to northern Mexico and through the western USA.

During migrations, Calliope hummingbirds move to the northwest in spring, via the Pacific lowlands, and southeast via the Rocky Mountain range during early fall. The Calliope hummingbird winters in Central America.

Calliope hummingbirds’ diet consists of nectar and insects.

Green-violetear (Mexican-violetear) Hummingbirds

Green-violetear Hummingbird

  • Scientific Name: Colibri thalassinus
  • Length: 3.8 to 4.7 inches
  • Weight: 0.2 ounce
  • Wingspan: 4.7 inches

Males have a bronze-colored rump and upper tail feather area. They are otherwise green on their backs, head, and wings, with a blue band along the bottom of their bronze central tail feathers. The breast has a central violet spot below a violet line that connects the bright violet ear patches under the chin in the northern species.

Female hummingbirds are less striking in color and have a narrow chin line.

These medium-sized hummingbirds are found around forest edges in humid areas that are generally semi-open.

The Green-violetear or Mexican-violetear hummingbird’s distribution is restricted to Mexico and Central America, but there have been sightings across the US, including California, Alabama, Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, and Texas. There have even been sightings as far north as Canada.

The Mexican Violetear hummingbird diet consists of nectar and insects.

Conclusion

In Indiana, the Ruby-throated hummingbird is the only species found frequently breeding.

There are two seasonal migrant (visitor) species, the Rufous and Allen’s hummingbird, who stop over in Indiana during the winter season.

The other hummingbird species on this list are scarce visitors who have deviated drastically from their usual breeding and wintering grounds.

However, with the current rate of climate change, this distribution may begin to change as more western species start to move in an eastward direction.

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