There are only three different species of hummingbirds that you can see in the state of Virginia and only one of them can be seen throughout the majority of the year.
These three hummingbirds are the:
- Ruby-throated Hummingbird
- Calliope Hummingbird
- Rufous Hummingbird
The Ruby-throated hummingbird is the most commonly seen of these species in Virginia. Now let’s have a look at these different hummingbird species in more individual detail.
What Hummingbirds can be seen in Virginia?
Table of Contents
1. Ruby-throated Hummingbird
- These hummingbirds feed on nectar, particularly the nectar of both orange and red tubular plants such as honeysuckle.
- These birds are tiny and only weigh 2-6g with their wingspan being 8-11cm.
The males of this species are the only individuals to sport bright ruby feathered throats.
The females have white bellies and necks with brown feathers covering their wings and backs.
Males need brighter coloured feathers to attract females to mate. This is why is most species of birds the females will be much duller in comparison.
Males make their territory before the breeding season begins; this is so that he is ready to perform a display flight as soon as a female enters his territory.
These displays involve looping dives of up to 50ft and if the female is impressed, she will move onto the male’s perch before he makes side to side flights in front of her.
You are most likely to see one of these hummingbirds in orchards or meadows rather than woodlands.
However, they often visit gardens and are easy to attract to your home.
You can see Ruby-throated hummingbirds in all areas of Virginia.
They are in the state throughout their courting and breeding seasons meaning they are in the state for the majority of the year.
These birds are most active during the early spring months when they begin courting.
Most of the recorded sightings of this bird are in the south of the state.
If you want to try and bring these birds into your garden adding tubular flowers, preferably red, will help.
2. Rufous Hummingbirds
- Nectar from tubular plants is the main source of food for this bird.
- These birds are average sized for a hummingbird and weigh 2-5g.
These birds are beautiful, the males have autumnal shades of orange and red feathers covering their bodies.
Like lots of other hummingbirds, the females of this species have much duller shades of colors on their feathers.
These birds are migratory and if you are lucky you may be able to catch one during its migratory flight. Outside of their migration periods, these birds like to make their nests in open areas, most commonly grasslands.
Rufous Hummingbirds are deemed to be the most aggressive species of hummingbirds. They will fight over both food and breeding resources.
Food appears to be more important than breeding as males have been seen chasing females away from manmade bird feeders, even in the middle of the breeding season.
They do frequently visit gardens as they will go anywhere with a source of food.
These birds are not particularly common in any eastern state. They are migratory and will occasionally extend their range to a couple of eastern states including Virginia.
However, this is only outside of their breeding seasons and they only appear to be sighted in the state during the winter months.
This bird has only been seen in the northern half of the state. They are quite easy to attract to your garden as they will go after any food source they can find.
Adding a sugar-water feeder will increase your chances of one visiting.
3. Calliope Hummingbird
- These birds will consume nectar as their main food, usually from cupped flowers.
- Calliope Hummingbirds are on the smaller side only weighing 2.4-3.3g.
Calliope Hummingbirds have striking white bellies, you can tell which are the males of the species as they have scattered purple feathers across their breast.
The females have the same bellies and same greenbacks as the males.
These hummingbirds are known for their unique courtship displays which involve the male speedily flapping his wings to produce a particular frequency.
This frequency of their wing beats creates a sound akin to that of a buzzing bee.
Males of this species are very defensive and will often spend their time on a high perch observing their territory for any other males that may try to intrude.
Apart from this, not a lot is known about this bird due to its limited range making it more difficult to study.
It is not confirmed as to whether it is a monogamous species of hummingbird or not.
Much like Rufous Hummingbirds, Calliope hummingbirds have a western range across the states and are very rarely seen in the east of America.
However, these birds are also migratory and will sometimes visit the state of Virginia outside of its breeding seasons, most often during the winter months.
They have only been sighted in the western half of the state and further to the north.
These birds are not frequent garden visitors so tips for attracting them are scarce.
However, tubular flowers should help increase your chances of seeing one.
We are avid bird-watchers who recently retired, allowing us more time to travel the world. Fortunately, we have managed to visit numerous countries around Europe, Asia, and America. Watching and photographing birds has been a passion for many years and we are making the most of the extra time on our hands!