Hummingbirds in South Dakota: 8 Must-See Fascinating Species

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South Dakota is known as the land of infinite variety. The diversity is evident in all aspects of South Dakota’s environment, from the weather to the landscape.

The Ruby-throated hummingbird is the sole breed fully based in South Dakota, in the eastern part of the state.

The other regular visitors migrate from Mexico between September and April and fly north during April and August.

These South Dakota guests are Anna’s, black-chinned, broad-tailed, Calliope hummingbirds, Costa’s, Rivoli’s, the ruby-throated hummingbird, and rufous.

Hummingbirds You Can Find in South Dakota

There are several hummingbird species whose frequent visits to South Dakota allow them to be recognized as hummingbirds of this state.

Anna’s Hummingbird

Anna’s Hummingbird

  • Scientific Name: Calypte Anna
  • Length: 9 – 4.3 in
  • Weight: 1 — 0.2 oz
  • Wingspan: 7 in

Description:

The male Anna’s hummingbird is a scintillant emerald green with hot pink, reddish throat, face, and head.

The female hummingbird doesn’t have the rich pink that hallmarks the male, and she has an off-white, grey chest, a few red spots marking her throat, and white-tipped tail feathers.

Additional Information:

Anna’s hummingbird consumes more insects than any other hummingbird species in North America.

Hummingbirds have a metabolic rate of 77—that of an average human (the highest among vertebrates for their size). Their need to feed is continuous.

The male Anna’s hummingbird will sing for minutes, making it a famed hummingbird for its song.

Anna’s, like other hummingbirds, heartbeats can reach 1,260 beats per minute.

Black-Chinned Hummingbird

Black-Chinned Hummingbird

  • Scientific Name: Archilochus Alexandri
  • Length: 25 – 3.5 in
  • Weight: 1 — 0.12 oz
  • Wingspan: 3 — 5 in

Description:

Like other hummingbirds, the black-chinned hummingbird is sexually dimorphic, meaning that males look and behave differently from females.

The male’s face and throat are ebony-black. Its throat is a lustrous, deep shade of purple seen in direct light.

The female black-chinned hummingbird has an off-white color undercarriage. Her neck has speckles across the white, and her back and crown’s plumage is metallic green gold. The female is larger than the male.

Additional Information:

The black-chinned hummingbird species generally reside in elevations from sea level to 8, 202 feet.

They enjoy a riparian habitat (sycamores and cottonwood), thickets in canyons of the southwest, and the shade of Oak trees on the Gulf coast during winter.

The black-chinned hummingbird is polyandrous, which means that both male and female black-chinned hummingbirds mate with more than one partner.

Broad-Tailed Hummingbird

Broad-Tailed Hummingbird

  • Scientific Name: Selasphorus Platycercus
  • Length: 1 — 4 in
  • Weight: 13 oz
  • Wingspan: 25 in

Description:

The adult broad-tailed hummingbird has a rose, magenta-colored throat that distinguishes it from the female, who has a greyish throat with spots of green.

They both have a distinctive white ring surrounding each eye.

Both males and females broad-tailed hummingbirds possess glistening green on their backs and crowns, bronze-green flanks, and an off-white chest.

They both have ebony feathers as a subterminal band between the green-gold feathers, and their round tail extends past their wingtips (hence the name).

Additional Information:

The broad-tail hummingbird creates a distinct wing trill that sounds cricket-like.

Like all hummingbirds, the broad-tail is the only bird that can fly backward, upside-down, hover, and suddenly stop.

They beat their wings 20 to 80 times a second, and the design of their wings assists this unique quality.  

The oldest broad-tailed hummingbird recorded was twelve years and two months.

Calliope Hummingbird

Calliope Hummingbird

  • Scientific Name: Selasphorus Calliope
  • Length: 8 — 3.9 in
  • Weight: 071 – 0.106 oz
  • Wingspan: 3 in

Description:

Male Calliope hummingbirds have dark purple, pink/magenta stripes lining vertically across their neck. Its chest and underparts are white and golden-green across its back and crown.

Average male Calliope hummingbirds are approximately the weight of a penny, half the weight of Anna’s.

The female Calliope hummingbird doesn’t boast the deep magenta rays streaked across the male’s neck, she has tawny flanks and white undercarriage, and her back and crown are golden-green.

Additional Information:

The Calliope hummingbird is the smallest bird native to the United States, and it has a hunched posture that makes it appear smaller. The Bee hummingbird, found only in Cuba, is the smallest bird worldwide.

This tiny bird migrates 5,600 miles every year in an elliptical pattern north along the Pacific Coast in spring for breeding season and returns to Mexico in winter, crossing the Rocky Mountains.

The Calliope hummingbird resides at high elevations, sometimes as high as 11,000 feet. The Calliope hummingbird prefers high chilly mountain meadows and riparian areas with willows and alder thickets in South Dakota.

Costa’s Hummingbird

Costa’s Hummingbird

  • Scientific Name: Calypte Costae
  • Length: 3 – 3.5 in
  • Weight: 11 oz (females) and 0.107 oz (males)
  • Wingspan: 3 in

Description:

The Costa is compact and small, with a hunched posture.

A brilliant purple throat and face distinguish the adult male Costa, and crown, their gorget flares out over their head. They have a shimmering golden green on their backs and a greenish chest.

The female hummingbird has bronze-green on their backs, a white eyebrow stripe, and off-white underparts.

Additional Information:

The Costa frequently occurs in the southwestern Sonoran and Mojave deserts scrub and thorned thickets, and they imbibe nectar from numerous desert plants, particularly chuparosa and ocotillo.

The Costa are short-distance migrants, and they travel as far as northern Mexico during winter.

When hummingbirds fall asleep, they enter a state of torpor, whereby they hang upside-down and lower their heart, metabolism, and respiration rate.

Rivoli’s Hummingbird

Rivoli’s Hummingbird

  • Scientific Name: Eugenes Fulgens
  • Length: 4 — 5.5 in
  • Weight: 21 – 0.35 oz
  • Wingspan: 1 in

Description:

Otherwise called the magnificent hummingbird, both sexes have a very dark black-green across their backs, with tints of bronze and a characteristic white spot around each eye.

The Rivoli hummingbird exhibits sexual dimorphism in body mass, coloring, size, and bill length.

The male Rivoli has a glistening blue-green/turquoise gorget, which makes him easy to distinguish, and he has a black velvet head and a purple crown (seen in direct light).

The female has a grey undercarriage and throat spotted with green, and her tail feathers have large white tips.

Additional Information:

The Rivoli is found in the southwestern part of the United States from South Dakota to Northern Nicaragua.

Rivoli’s is the second-largest hummingbird in North America, second only to the blue-throated mountain gem.

The Rivoli’s spring migration is relatively slow compared to other hummingbirds. You can see their wings flap, and they also glide.

The Rivoli’s temperament is usually calm; however, some individuals are pugnacious and aggressively defend their territory. The Rivoli’s preferred feeding pattern consists of trap-lining and gleaning.

Ruby-Throated Hummingbird

Ruby-Throated Hummingbird

  • Scientific: Archilochus Colubris
  • Length: 8 – 3.5 in
  • Weight: 071 – 0.212 oz- (females) and 0.13 oz (males) 0.12 oz
  • Wingspan: 1 – 4.3 in

Description:

The male ruby-throated hummingbird has vivid shades of ruby-red feathers on its throat that end in a white ribbon, their backs, and crown are shimmering green and gold, and they have white-grey underneath and forked tails.

The characteristic ruby-red is absent in females. Their crown and back are a glistening golden-green, with off-white underparts.

Additional Information:

The ruby-throated, along with other hummingbirds, have incredible vision.

Hummingbirds have a fourth color-sensitive cone, whereas humans only have three; this enables hummingbirds to see ultraviolet light further along the electromagnetic spectrum than humans.

The ruby-throated is the only hummingbird to nest in the eastern part of the United States and South Dakota for their spring migration. 

Rufous Hummingbird

Rufous Hummingbird

  • Scientific Name: Selasphorus Rufus
  • Length: 8 – 3.5 in
  • Weight: 071 – 0.176 oz
  • Wingspan: 3 in

Description:

Male rufous hummingbirds have a silky orange, red throat, copper, bronze-orange back, and flanks. The female doesn’t have a red throat.

The female’s throat is a grey-white with freckles of orange, their crown and back a bronze, glistening green, and they have white-tipped tail feathers.

Additional Information:

Rufous hummingbirds have a reputation for being aggressive and territorial, especially during migration and breeding season, and they will successfully chase off predators.

It flies the longest spring migration route of all North American hummingbirds.

Rufous hummingbirds have incredible memory recall ability, spatial memory, and episodic memory.

Conclusion

The only hummingbird species that are year-round residents in South Dakota is the ruby-throat. Generally, this is the only hummingbird to breed along the eastern part of North America. Other hummingbirds who frequent the diverse topography enough to be considered part of South Dakota are Anna’s, black-chinned, broad-tailed, Calliope, Costa’s, Rivoli’s, and rufous.

The increase of hummingbirds in the eastern United States is possibly due to gardeners structuring their gardens and hummingbird feeders to accommodate these hummingbirds during spring migration. Look here for an excellent overview of the birding landscape of South Dakota.

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