There have been reports of nearly 30 different species of hummingbirds seen in the United States. Some of these are common and can be found every year, while some are rare or accidental visitors. When it comes to hummingbirds in Alabama, we have found 2 species that are common or semi-common and 7 that are more rare. That’s a total of 9 species of hummingbirds that have visited Alabama.
9 Hummingbirds in Alabama
Based on the range maps of authoritative sources like allaboutbirds.org and ebird.org, we’ve put together a list of hummingbirds that can be seen in the state of Alabama. For each species in this list you’ll find the species name, pictures of what it looks like, specifications about appearance, and where and when you may be able to spot them. We will list the 2 most common species first, and the 7 rarer ones last.
Because most hummingbirds winter in Mexico and Central America, one of the best places in the U.S. to spot “accidental” hummingbirds that may have veered off course is along the Gulf coast. Because of this, the far southern coast of Alabama is a good location to try and spot the hummingbird species that are otherwise rare in the eastern U.S.
Stay tuned at the end of the article for tips on attracting hummingbirds to your yard, and visit this article to find out when hummingbirds will be returning to your state.
1. Ruby-throated hummingbird
Scientific name: Archilochus colubris
Ruby-throated hummingbirds are the most common hummingbirds in the eastern half of the United States, including Alabama. They have a green back and white underparts. Males have a ruby red throat that can look black in certain lighting.
Each spring they enter the country in droves from their wintering grounds in Central America. Many of them fly over the Gulf of Mexico in one non-stop flight! Ruby-throated hummingbirds are fairly easy to attract to backyards with nectar feeders and flowers.
Ruby-throated hummingbirds are seen throughout Alabama during the spring and summer months. They will begin to migrate into the state starting in March then head south again in October. A few may choose to stick around all year, especially in Mobile and along the shore.
2. Rufous Hummingbird
Scientific name: Selasphorus rufus
Rufous hummingbirds are known for being very “feisty” when it comes to sharing feeders and chasing off other hummers. Males are orange all over with a white patch on the upper breast and an orange-red throat. Females are green with rusty patches and a speckled throat.
In the spring they migrate up through California, spend the summer in the Pacific northwest and Canada, then zip back down through the Rockies in the fall. While the rufous is considered a hummingbird of the western U.S., they are probably the second most commonly sighted species on the east coast after the ruby-throated hummingbird.
Recorded sightings in Alabama are scattered throughout the state, but the most sightings occur along the Gulf coast. While I wouldn’t necessarily call them common, they are seen at least a few times each year. They can pop up any time of year, however you would be much more likely to see between November and April.
3. Black-chinned Hummingbird
Scientific name: Archilochus alexandri
Black-chinned hummingbirds migrate north from Mexico and Central America each year and breed in the western United States. Males throat color looks plain black in most light, however they do have a small strip of purple feathers along the bottom that is sometimes visible. Females appear like most hummingbird females green above and pale below with a plain throat. They are widespread among many habitats from deserts to mountain forests and like to perch on bare branches.
While they are a bird of the west coast, they have been spotted in most states along the east coast at least once, including Alabama where there have been a handful of sightings over the years. They would still be considered rare for the state, but you may get lucky, especially around the southern coast. Sightings tend to be during the winter months.
4. Calliope Hummingbird
Scientific name: Selasphorus calliope
The calliope hummingbird winters in Central America, then mainly spends its breeding season in the Pacific Northwest and parts of western Canada. That’s an impressively far migration, especially considering the calliope is the smallest bird in the United States!
Males have a unique throat pattern of magenta stripes that fork down on the sides. Females are plain with some green spotting on the throat and peachy tinted underparts.
Calliope Hummingbirds are considered rare on the east coast, however they have been spotted in Alabama a few times. Most sightings occurred in the winter around the Mobile and Birmingham area.
5. Allen’s Hummingbird
Scientific name: Selasphorus sasin
These tiny guys fly all the way from Central America to breed along the Pacific Coast in California each year. They have very similar coloring to the Rufous hummingbird so it can be tricky distinguishing the two.
Allen’s males are orange with a green back and orangey-red throat. Females have a speckled throat with dull green back and brownish-orange flanks. They migrate quite early compared to other hummingbirds, heading for California in January.
Allen’s are rare for Alabama and they have only been spotted there a few times. Like other “accidental” hummingbird visitors you’d be most likely to spot one during the winter months. Most of the past sightings have been around Mobile and Montgomery.
6. Anna’s Hummingbird
Scientific name: Calypte anna
Anna’s actually stay in the U.S. all year within most of their range, however you’ll only find them regularly in a few of the western states, including California and Washington. The green of their feathers tends to be a bit brighter and more iridescent than most others, and even their chest and belly are sprinkled with emerald feathers. Males have rosy-pink throats and those colorful feathers extend up onto their forehead.
Anna’s are very uncommon on the east coast, but they do stray from time to time. I only saw six or so sightings recorded on eBird, scattered throughout the state, occurring between November and February. A rare sight, but not impossible!
7. Broad-tailed hummingbird
Scientific name: Selasphorus platycerus
Broad-tailed hummingbirds love the mountains and breed at elevations up to 10,500 feet. Males have a rosey-magenta colored throat. Females have some green spotting on their throat and cheeks, and buffy colored sides.
Broad-tailed hummingbirds are very uncommon in the eastern U.S., except along the Gulf Coast where they aren’t quite common but do show up somewhat regularly. Therefore, your best chance to spot one would be along the very southern coastal area of the state. However there have also been a couple recorded sightings throughout the state, so you never know!
8. Broad-billed Hummingbird
Scientific name: Cynanthus latirostris
The only two states in the U.S. where the broad-billed hummingbird is known to breed are Arizona and New Mexico. Males are hard to mistake with their purpleish-blue throat and blueish-green belly. They also have a reddish beak with a black tip. Females are a washed out green above and grayish below with the typical black beak.
While broad-billed hummingbirds are considered very rare outside of the southwestern U.S. they occasionally pop up in other states. Alabama has had just a few recorded sightings, typically in winter or early spring in the southern coastal tip of the state.
9. Buff-bellied Hummingbird
Scientific name: Amazilia yucatanensis
The little buff-bellied hummingbird is a Mexican native that spends some time in the U.S., but just barely. Their more defining features are their red bill, bluish-green throat feathers and a light buffy colored belly. They also have rusty brown on their tail feathers, which is hard to see unless they fan them out.
Buff-bellied hummingbirds live along the eastern coast of Mexico, and the only place to reliably see them year-round in the U.S. is just over the border in the lower Rio Grande valley of Texas. They come up further north during the winter where they can be found along the Gulf of Mexico from Texas to the Florida panhandle. Occasionally one will stray further north and end up in the southeastern states, but it is rare. Therefore your best shot to see one in Alabama is along the Gulf shore.
Attracting Hummingbirds To Your Yard
1. Hang Hummingbird Feeders
Perhaps the best way to attract hummingbirds is to hang a nectar feeder in your yard. Hummingbirds need to eat constantly and finding a reliable source of nectar is essential. Choose a feeder that has the color red on it, and is easy to take apart and clean. In hot weather, cleaning and refilling need to be done more than just once a week. We recommend a saucer shaped feeder for most people. They are super easy to clean, work great, and don’t hold an excessive amount of nectar.
You can also check out our top 5 favorite hummingbird feeders for a variety of styles.
2. Make Your Own Nectar
Avoid unnecessary (and sometimes dangerous) additives and red dyes by making your own nectar. It’s cheap, super easy and quick. All you need to do is add plain white sugar to water in a 1:4 ratio (1 cup sugar to 4 cups water). We have an easy how-to article on making your own nectar without having to boil the water.
3. Plant Native Flowers
Aside from a feeder, plant some flowers in your yard who’s blooms will attract passing hummingbirds. They are especially attracted to flowers that are red (as well as orange, pink and purple), and flowers with trumpet or tubular shaped blossoms. To maximize your space try some vertical planting. An obelisk trellis or a flat trellis attached to the side of your house can provide a great vertical surface for long cascading vines of flowers. Check out these 20 plants and flowers that attract hummingbirds.
4. Provide Water
Hummingbirds need water for drinking and bathing. Although they may find traditional bird baths too deep, they will use baths with the right “specifications”. Check out these great options for hummingbird baths you can buy, or ideas to DIY something perfect for your yard.
5. Promote Insects
Most hummingbirds can’t live on sugar alone, they also need to eat protein. Up to a third of their diet is small insects. This includes mosquitoes, fruit flies, spiders and gnats. Help out your hummers by staying away from pesticides. For more tips on insect feeders and ways you can help feed insects to hummingbirds check out our 5 easy tips.