Hummingbirds In North Carolina

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Located in the Southwestern region of the United States, North Carolina is the 28th largest state by area with some of the highest mountain ranges in the eastern United States.

North Carolina has a wide range of landscapes and elevations. Most of the state is humid and subtropical, but the western mountain meadows have a more subtropical highland climate.

There is a wide variety of animals living in the 54,000 square miles that make up North Carolina, including 470 different species of birds. Among these 470, we find North Carolina’s hummingbird population.

Hummingbird Species Found In North Carolina

North Carolina has 11 different hummingbird species that are on record in this state. Two of these eleven are native breeders to North Carolina, three are accidental vagrants, and six are rare.

Ruby-Throated Hummingbirds

Ruby-Throated Hummingbirds

  • Scientific name: Archilochus colubris
  • Length: 2.8 – 3.5 inches
  • Weight: 0.1 – 0.2 ounces
  • Wingspan: 3.1 – 4.3 inches

Description:

Overall, the Red-throated Hummingbird has a metallic green back with greyish white underbellies and black wings. They have straight, long bills, slender to get nectar from flowers, measuring 0.79 inches.

Males have a bright throat coloring, which is ruby-red, a white-collar, and a forked black tail. Females’ throats are either plain or lightly marked with stipples or dusty streaks.

Additional Information:

The Ruby-throated Hummingbird is a native breeder in North Carolina. It is common to see them during the late summer months, but in the winter, when their nectar sources are gone, you will rarely see them. Arriving in March, they depart in September and October.

This species of hummingbird often visits towns and suburban backyards. They can often be quite bold, so put up a hummingbird feeder or hanging plants with an abundance of flowers next to your windows or on your porches to attract them to your garden. They will also frequently eat insects from spider webs.

Rufous Hummingbirds

Rufous Hummingbirds

  • Scientific Name: Selasphorus Rufus
  • Length: 3.1 inches
  • Weight: 0.071 – 0.176 ounces
  • Wingspan: 4.3 inches

Description:

Males have a rufous face, tail, and flanks, a white breast, and a red-orange gorget (throat feathers), with green feathers on their backs.

Females have white, orange, and green speckled throat feathers, dark tails with a rufous base, and white tips. The female hummingbird is, on average, bigger than the male.

Additional Information:

Rufous Hummingbirds are familiar visitors to North Carolina where they establish their winter homes. The Rufous Hummingbird is the most common species to be seen east of the Mississippi River.

These common hummingbirds have exceptional flying skills, flying south around in a migration pattern of 2,000 miles through the Rocky Mountain region from May to September to take advantage of wildflower season.

Black-Chinned Hummingbird

Black-Chinned Hummingbird

  • Scientific Name: Archilochus alexandri
  • Length: 3.25 inches
  • Weight: 0.1 – 0.2 ounces
  • Wingspan: 4.3 inches

Description:

Adult Black-chinned Hummingbirds have metallic green backs and sides with white bellies and spots behind their eyes and long, slender, and straight black bills.

Adult males are identified by their velvety black chins and faces, with a black throat with a blue-violet band on the lower throat area bordered by a white collar. Adult females have a green face and white throat with a few black spots on it.

Additional Information:

Black-chinned Hummingbirds are rare accidental winter visitors to North Carolina. They have been seen more frequently near the coast.

Leaving your backyard feeders out during the winter months could attract these birds into your gardens. During the winter, Black-chinned Hummingbirds can eat three times their body weight in nectar in one day.

Buff-Bellied Hummingbirds

Buff-Bellied Hummingbirds

  • Scientific Name: Amazilia yucatanensis
  • Length: 3.9 – 4.3 inches
  • Weight: 0.14 – 0.18 ounces
  • Wingspan: 6 inches

Description:

Adult Buff-bellied Hummingbirds have metallic olive green backs and white bellies with buffy, grey, or green shades. Primarily, their wing feathers and tail are rufous and slightly forked, and the underwings are white.

The male has a bright blue-green gorget with a straight, slender, red bill with a dark tip. The female is overall less colorful than the male.

Additional Information:

Buff-bellied Hummingbirds are accidental vagrants to North Carolina, with only a handful of viewings on record between fall, winter, and spring.

These hummingbirds exhibit territorial behaviors and will aggressively defend a primary food source within their breeding grounds. Typically, this means native plants or tubular flowers.

You can usually find them in semi-arid scrub, pine-oak forests, and thickets close to water.

Broad-Billed Hummingbird

Broad-Billed Hummingbird

  • Scientific name: Cynanthus latirostris
  • Length: 3.1 – 3.9 inches
  • Weight: 0.10 – 0.14 ounces
  • Wingspan: 5.1 inches

Description:

Adult males have dark metallic green backs, a deep blue throat, and white under-tail covers. Their tails are broad and bluish-black, with brownish-grey flight feathers. Their beaks are red, slender, and straight with a black tip.

The female is overall duller than the male, with a pale belly and white-tipped tail feathers. She also has a white eye-stripe behind her eyes.

Additional Information:

The Broad-billed Hummingbirds are accidental vagrants to North Carolina, with only a handful of sightings ever recorded.

This hummingbird’s usual range maps the area around Mexico, but its breeding range stretches, occasionally, out to the mountainous canyons of the southwestern U.S. during its breeding season. Those with nectar feeders or nectar-rich bright flowers and tubular plants may attract hummingbirds of this species to visit residential gardens.

Anna’s Hummingbirds

Anna’s Hummingbirds

  • Scientific Name: Calypte anna
  • Length: 3.9 – 4.3 inches
  • Weight: 0.1 – 0.2 ounces
  • Wingspan: 4.7 inches

Description:

Anna’s Hummingbirds have a green color pattern and tube-shaped bodies, with thin, long, and straight bills. They also have a white patch or streak behind their eyes.

Males have a distinctive, iridescent orange-red gorget (throat feathers) and forehead and elongated feathers that project down the sides of their necks. The female’s head is sometimes greyish or dark brown, and her throat has a slight red spotting on it that intensifies in the middle of the throat, forming a small patch.

Additional Information:

Anna’s Hummingbirds are rare visitors to North Carolina. There have only been a few recorded sightings of them in the state.

Anna’s Hummingbird is one of the most common and largest types of hummingbird found in California, and they are the only American hummingbird that will happily establish wintering grounds in northern climates. They are also the only hummingbird that produces an actual song.

Broad-Tailed Hummingbird

Broad-Tailed Hummingbird

  • Scientific Name: Selasphorus platycercus
  • Length: 4 inches
  • Weight: 0.13 ounces
  • Wingspan: 5.25 inches

Description:

Identification of the adult males is possible through their iridescent rose-red throats, metallic green backs and crowns, white chest feathers, and rounded tail feathers.

The adult females do not have a bright throat patch and are primarily pale on their bellies. Their central tail feathers range from blackish to green, and their outer tail feathers are rust-colored, closer to the body, and blackish in the center.

Additional Information:

Broad-tailed Hummingbirds are rare visitors to North Carolina, with only one or two sightings on record.

Broad-tails prefer to breed at high elevations of up to 10,500 feet. Often nighttime temperatures drop below freezing in these areas, and the breeding pair goes into a state of torpor, slowing their heart rates and dropping their body temperatures.

Allen’s Hummingbirds

Allen’s Hummingbirds

  • Scientific Name: Selasphorus sasin
  • Length: 3 – 3.5 inches
  • Weight:  0.1 ounces
  • Wingspan:  4.3 inches

Description:

The adult male Allen’s Hummingbird has a green forehead and back, a rufous colored rump, flanks, and tail. The males’ throat is an iridescent red-orange.

The adult female does not have the iridescent throat patch of the males. They have white speckled throats and a few reddish throat feathers. They are primarily green with rufous white-tipped tails.

Additional Information:

Allen’s Hummingbird is a rare visitor to North Carolina, with only three or four sightings on record. Overall, this species is rarely seen in the eastern United States.

These hummingbirds are aggressive and territorial, known to chase away other males from their territories. There have been sightings of them attacking and routing predatory birds much larger than themselves.

Green Violetear Hummingbirds

Green Violetear Hummingbirds

  • Scientific Name: Colibri thalassinus
  • Length: 4.25 – 4.5 inches
  • Weight: 0.17 – 0.20 ounces
  • Wingspan: 4.72 inches

Description:

The adult male Green Violetear has a grass-green back which fades to a bronze color on the upper-tail feathers and rump. He has a broad violet spot on the center of his upper breast. His tail is slightly notched and square, with dark blue broadband at the end of his tail.

The adult female is similar to the male but is typically smaller in size, and overall her plumage is duller. Her chin band is also narrower than the males.

Additional Information:

The Green Violetear Hummingbird is a rare visitor to North Carolina, with only three or four records in the state.

Green Violetears, also known as Mexican Violetears, are typically a common resident in Central America and Mexico, with some seasonal movements on record. Some records show that they have wandered north into North America, with some even going as far as Canada.

Calliope Hummingbird

Calliope Hummingbird

  • Scientific Name: Selasphorus calliope
  • Length: 2.8 – 3.9 inches
  • Weight: 0.071 – 0.106 ounces
  • Wingspan: 4.3 inches

Description:

Adult Calliope Hummingbirds have a mostly glossy green back and a creamy white tummy. Adult females have dark streaks on their dull whitish throats, with a pink wash on their sides and a white-tipped, dark tail.

Adult males have an iridescent elongated gorget with purple or wine-red streaks on a white background. When erected, they have a whiskered effect. His sides are green, and his tail is dark.

Additional Information:

The Calliope Hummingbird is a rare visitor to North Carolina, although there have been a few recordings of sightings, mainly at bird feeders.

The Calliope Hummingbird is the smallest breeding bird in North America; it is also the world’s smallest long-distance migrant, traveling around 5,000 miles each year during its migration.

Green-Breasted Mango Hummingbird

Green-Breasted Mango Hummingbird

  • Scientific Name: Anthracothorax prevostil
  • Length: 4.33 to 4.72 inches
  • Weight: 0.25 ounces
  • Wingspan: 5 to 6 inches

Description:

Adult males have a mostly glossy bright green plumage, with yellowing brown on their vents and flanks. They have a broad blue area running from their throats to below their chests. Their outer tails feathers range in color from deep purple or magenta to orangey-red, tipped with black.

The females have broad, glossy dark blue and magenta bands on their outer-tail feathers, tipped in white. Their backs are green-bronze, and their tummies are white with dark middle stripes that change from blue-green on the throat to black at the chin.

Additional Information:

Green-breasted Mango Hummingbirds are very rare in North Carolina. These birds are native to Central America, Mexico, and down to Costa Rica. However, there have been more and more recordings, especially of juveniles venturing into the United States.

They inhabit primarily tropical deciduous forests to an elevation of 3,300 feet. They can also live in orchards, open areas with large trees, cultivated areas, and gardens.

Conclusion

There are eleven different hummingbird species on record for being seen in North Carolina. Of those eleven, only two are native breeders. The others are all accidental visitors, with most only sighted a few times.

Other than hummingbirds, North Carolina has an abundance of bird species. If you are interested in finding out more about different species of birds that you can see in North Carolina, take a look at this list.

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