Vermont is known for its maple syrup, gorgeous green mountains, beautiful hiking trails, and perfect skiing conditions. It is a dream destination for peeping fall foliage and exploring small towns that are over 200 years old!
As the second smallest state in the country in both land area and population, Vermont is home to countless incredible bird species. That includes hawks, woodpeckers, owls, and hummingbirds!
There aren’t very many kinds of hummingbirds in Vermont. Unlike states that see more than a dozen hummingbird species, Vermont only has one consistent hummingbird visitor. If they are incredibly lucky, Vermonters might see two other species of bird, but both are incredibly rare.
3 Hummingbirds That Have Been Spotted in Vermont
Only one species of hummingbird visits Vermont regularly: the ruby-throated hummingbird.
Rufous hummingbirds and Mexican violetear hummingbirds have been seen in Vermont, but they do not reside or migrate within the state.
- Scientific Name: Archilochus colubris
- Length: 2.8 – 3.5 inches
- Weight: 0.1 – 0.2 ounces
- Wingspan: 3.1 – 4.3 inches
Ruby-throated hummingbirds are one of the most common hummingbirds in The United States. As such, they are also one of the ones you are most likely to recognize!
A male ruby-throated hummingbird boasts a recognizable ruby-red patch on his throat, which contrasts against his white chest and belly. You don’t have to see his throat and chest to recognize him, though. He also has a flashy, emerald-green belly.
Male ruby-throated hummingbirds have grey chins and green sides. His dark-colored tail has a small fork at the end.
Females, on the other hand, are larger than their male counterparts. They have a similar metallic green back as the males, but their sides are brownish and their throat and chest are both white. Their tail is rounded instead of forked.
Ruby-throated hummingbirds arrive in Vermont after flying over 2000 miles from their winter homes on the other side of the Gulf of Mexico.
You will usually begin to see them sometime in mid-April to mid-May. This is later than they arrive in many other states because Vermont has long winters.
The weather needs to be warm enough for hummingbirds to find nectar-rich blooms and build nests for their eggs. If they arrive too early, the temperatures are too extreme for their small bodies to handle!
Ruby-throated hummingbirds eat a diet of fresh nectar from blooms, sugar water they find in hummingbird feeders, and insects.
They are the only native-breeding hummingbird in the eastern half of the US, and their breeding ground is more expansive than any other hummingbird in North America!
- Scientific Name: Selasphorus rufus
- Length: 2.8 – 3.5 inches
- Weight: 0.07 – 0.18 ounces
- Wingspan: 4.0 – 4.5 inches
Rufous hummingbirds are slightly larger ruby-throated hummingbirds. Like the ruby-throated hummingbird, the easiest way to identify them is to get a good look at their throats!
Adult male rufous hummingbirds have an iridescent, orangeish-red patch on their throats. Their faces, backs, and sides are rufous colored, which is a reddish-brown color common in birds around the world.
A male rufous hummingbird will have a black-tipped tail and an off-white chest, throat, and belly. Males may have a slight green color on their heads and backs, but there is no guarantee of this green coloration.
Females are similarly patterned, but their coloring is less vibrant. A female rufous hummingbird will also have white tips on her otherwise dark detail.
Rufous hummingbirds are very rare in Vermont. If you are lucky enough to see one, you can be confident that it is not in Vermont on purpose, and there are probably no other rufous hummingbirds nearby.
If you take a look at the breeding and wintering territories of the rufous hummingbird, you’ll see that they do not typically come anywhere near Vermont. However, individual birds may get lost during migration, or be affected by unusual weather patterns.
Rufous hummingbirds fly massive distances during their migration. It makes sense, then, that getting turned around or lost could lead to arriving hundreds or thousands of miles outside of their normal territory!
They travel farther north to breed than any other hummingbird species, with some individuals traveling all the way to southeastern Alaska!
Rufous hummingbirds are also territorial and bold. These feisty little beautiful birds will divebomb each other–and far larger birds and mammals!
The most recent documented sighting of a rufous hummingbird in Vermont was in 2021 at Shadow Lake in Glover.
- Scientific Name: Colibri thalassinus
- Length: 8 – 4.7 in
- Weight: 17 – 0.20 oz
- Wingspan: 7 in
This hummingbird is large..for a hummingbird, that is! Mexican violetears have a wingspan of 7 inches, which is up to twice the size of a ruby-throated hummingbird.
They are also very similar in appearance, regardless of sex. Both males and females are gorgeous in their jewel-tone colors: dark green, violet, and blue. They have what are called “decurved” bills, which means that the bill angles downward.
They also have black feathers on their wings, as well as violet-blue markings on the sides of their necks.
The only significant difference between males and females is that some females are slightly less vibrant, and they have smaller patches on the throat and ear.
Mexican violetears are another accidental vagrant in Vermont. A vagrant is a bird that has traveled far outside of its normal breeding and migration patterns.
Sometimes, vagrancy can be a sign of an eventual move to a new area, but typically, it just means that a bird got lost!
Mexican violetears nest in Mexico and Nicaragua
During nesting season, the Mexican violetear nests in the high ground of southern Mexico and Nicaragua, but they do venture into other parts of North America on rare occasions.
They live solitary lifestyles, rather than being in a community with other hummingbirds. However, when they gather in groups, it is because they are accessing an area with all of the blooms they prefer to eat!
In 2021, a Mexican violetear was documented – and photographed! – in Vermont. It was the species’ first-ever appearance in Vermont, and only the third documented appearance in all of New England!
We wish we could say that there were more hummingbirds in Vermont! Unfortunately, hummingbird aficionados in Vermont will have to travel elsewhere to see most species.
Even so, you have a great chance of seeing a ruby-throated hummingbird during the breeding season, from mid-April to September.
If you manage to spot a vagrant hummingbird species like a Mexican violetear or a rufous hummingbird, don’t forget to document it with your local birding clubs and organizations!