Hummingbirds in New York

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New York is a “one-of-a-kind” state, comprising 54,556 square miles from the hustle and bustle of New York City to the majestic Appalachian Mountains and the breath-taking beauty of the Atlantic coastal plain.

While there are 495 known species of wild birds in New York state, none compare with the sheer delight of encountering the species of hummingbirds that seems to magically float in the air.

So, if you find yourself enjoying hummingbirds as much as we do, this list is just for you as it includes unique hummingbird species that you will rarely see. Consider yourself lucky if you spot them!

Hummingbirds You Can Find In New York

Five species find their way to New York during the spring hummingbird migration from mid-April to May each year. However, the Ruby-Throated hummingbird and Rufous Hummingbird are the major hummingbird species commonly seen in the state — the others are rarely sited.

Due to climate change, many of the nectar-rich flowers that attract hummingbirds during their breeding season bloom earlier than usual, which could threaten the existence of reliable food sources for hummers. As a result, the migration of hummingbirds to New York might decline as well.

Therefore, if you want to nurture and attract these popular birds to your hummingbird garden, install any of the following red-colored items: nectar feeders, ribbons, or tubular flowers. Be sure to provide them with several nectar sources, or even try your hand at making homemade nectar to put in your bird feeders.

With that being said, let’s have a look at the hummingbirds you may be fortunate enough to see:

Ruby-Throated Hummingbird

Ruby-Throated Hummingbird

  • Scientific Name:Archilochus colubris
  • Length: 2.8 to 3.5 inches
  • Weight: 0.071 to 0.2 ounces
  • Wingspan: 3.1 to 4.3 inches

Description:

Ruby-throats are sexually dimorphic,  meaning the males and females differ in appearance.

Adult males are smaller but feature shimmering red throat patches with black borders and dazzling violet forked tails, while the bigger females sport rough tails with outer feathers lined in green and black, with either plain white throat patches or grey streaks or stipples.

Additional Information:

These beautiful birds are usually the first to arrive in New York, with the males showing up between April and May to establish their feeding territory and feast on nectar from plants and other food supplies, shortly followed by the females.

These tiny birds fly 500-mile, non-stop journeys for 18-20 hours during their spring and fall migrations which is an incredible feat as they rotate their wings 12-80 times per second. Clearly, they have an exceptional amount of energy for hummingbirds!

Following this, they migrate to either Florida, Central America, or southern Mexico for the winter season.

They are fearless, territorial, aggressive birds, and will chase larger birds away from their favorite nectar feeders throughout the course of their 3–5 year lifespan.

Rufous Hummingbird

Rufous Hummingbird

  • Scientific Name: Selasphorus Rufus 
  • Length: 2.8 to 3.5 inches
  • Weight: 0.071 to 0.176 oz
  • Wingspan: 4.3 inches

Description:

As with the Ruby-throated hummingbird, this popular hummingbird species is sexually dimorphic. The males are also slightly smaller than the females and easily recognizable due to their dazzling red-orange throats, white breasts, flanks, and tails.

The females have white throats, green crowns, and backs, with lustrous orange, white-tipped feathers.

They are often confused with Allen’s Hummingbirds due to their startling similarities.

Additional Information:

Their breeding habitats comprise forest edges and open areas, including mountainous regions from southern Alaska, to the Pacific Northwest, to British Columbia, and California.

Males tend to mate with several partners, following which adult females craft their nests in fortified, safe areas like conifers and shrubs near nectar sources and other food supplies.

Male Rufous Hummingbirds also arrive in New York from mid-April to May, following their epic 2000-mile transitory migrations when their female counterparts later join them.

While they are territorial, they remain vulnerable to insect-eating birds and other animals due to their minute size.

Calliope Hummingbird

Calliope Hummingbird

  • Scientific Name: Selasphorus calliope
  • Length: 2.8 to 3.9 inches
  • Weight: 0.071 to 0.1 oz
  • Wingspan: 4.3 inches

Description:

Mature male Calliopes have vivid red streaks on their throats, including green-colored flanks and dark tails.

The adult females and immature hummingbirds feature a pink color on their flanks with darker streaks on their throats, including dark-colored tails featuring white tips.

Additional Information:

Their breeding environments range from shrubs to high altitudes like the Rocky Mountains, where they predominantly build their nests.

These rarely seen birds, formerly known as “little stars,” are the smallest in the US and the world’s tiniest long-distant migratory birds as they travel 5,000 miles each year.

They may look like the larger Rufous or Allen’s Hummingbirds as they sport silky green backs and crowns, including white sections below their plumage.

Like other hummingbird species, they are incredibly territorial, and notwithstanding their minute size, have chased away fearsome Red-tailed Hawks.

Anna’s Hummingbird

Anna’s Hummingbird

  • Scientific Name: Calypte anna
  • Length: 3.9 to 4.3 inches
  • Weight: 0.1 to 0.2 oz
  • Wingspan: 4.7 inches

Description:

The males feature dramatic, red, rose-colored crowns and throats. The area below their plumage is grey, and their backs are metallic green in color.

The females differ as they have soft gray-colored chests with red and white spots on their throats and green-colored backs with tails that have white tips.

Additional Information:

These birds breed in wooded locations, including mountain pastures. They are a rare sight in New York during the hummingbird season from mid-April to October each year. 

If you don’t see them, you might hear them as they are the only known bird species to sing, especially the males who are known for their unique “songs.”

Like all other hummingbirds, they pollinate flowers by generating an electrostatic charge that attracts pollen and must feed on calorific nectar to maintain their fast metabolisms.

Their resting heart rates are between 420 and 460 beats per minute which can accelerate up to 1,220 beats per minute when flying to protect their feeding territories aggressively. 

Broad-Billed Hummingbird

Broad-Billed Hummingbird

  • Scientific Name: Cynanthus latirostris
  • Length: 3.1–3.9 inches
  • Weight: 0.1 z
  • Wingspan: 5.1 inches

Description:

These magnificent birds are identifiable by their vivid, red bills with black tips.

Males feature shiny green plumage, vivid blue throats, and white undergrowth, including black, forked tails. Unlike most hummingbirds, adult males tend to weigh more than their female counterparts. 

The females have luminous, metallic-colored green upper sections, subtle grey throats, and undergrowth, including tails with light-colored tips.

Additional Information:

Their typical breeding habitats consist of mountain valleys, foothills, meadows, spruce, and aspens, and they tend to forage in areas with grasslands and flower fields.

Like the previous hummingbird species, you would be extremely fortunate to spot a Broad-billed Hummingbird in New York, as they are occasional visitors.

These remarkable birds have been equipped with the ability to fly backward, straight up, sideways, or hover as their wings can move at different angles.

Their pectoral muscles are so advanced that they weigh approximately 30 percent of their entire body weight.

Conclusion

It truly is a magical experience when we encounter these fairy-like, mythical creatures, especially the rarer hummingbird species!

While there are five hummingbird species in New York, Ruby-throated and Rufous Hummingbirds are the most prolific species in this diverse, beautiful landscape.

New York doesn’t just home hummingbirds, though, and offers a rich abundance of magnificent birds.

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