If you’re always on the lookout for rare birds, then birdwatching for hummingbirds in Georgia — or anywhere on the east coast — is for you. There are only two regularly occurring species of hummingbirds in the state, and the remaining 9 species of hummingbirds that have made appearances here have only visited on rare occasions.
It’s definitely a challenge to locate all the hummingbirds on this list, but it is possible to spot more kinds of hummingbirds here than it would be in northern regions of the country. To find out all the potential species of hummingbirds you might find in Georgia, keep reading this list we’ve gathered to help you spot even the rarest of visitors.
Hummingbirds in Georgia
The 11 species of hummingbird you may be able to spot in Georgia include the ruby-throated hummingbird, rufous hummingbird, Allen’s hummingbird, green-breasted mango, Rivoli’s hummingbird, black-chinned hummingbird, Anna’s hummingbird, broad-tailed hummingbird, broad-billed hummingbird, callliope hummingbird and buff-bellied hummingbird.
The two regularly occurring species of hummingbirds in Georgia are the Ruby-Throated Hummingbird and the Rufous Hummingbirds. The other species listed are rare and have only been spotted on occasion. Let’s look at each of them below!
1. Ruby-Throated Hummingbird
Ruby-throated Hummingbirds are probably the most well-known hummingbird on the east coast — likely due to the fact that they’re the only hummingbird species that breeds on this side of the country. They’re small hummingbirds covered in bright green plumage that shines iridescent in the sunlight. Males have the bright red throat patch that earned them their name.
These hummingbirds live in wooded areas such as meadows, open woodlands, clearings, forest edges, and gardens. In fact, Ruby-throated Hummingbirds are well known for visiting feeders and backyards full of nectar-filled flowers. Consider planting these flowers and plants in your yard if you’d like some Ruby-throated Hummingbirds to check it out. As an added bonus — they’re beneficial to gardens, too, as they help pollinate while they sip on nectar.
A unique trademark of hummingbirds is their remarkably fast way of flying. Ruby-throated Hummingbirds can beat their wings over 50 times per second, and if you were to listen closely, you’d even hear a faint hum as they hover in place. The precision they possess over their wings allows them to gracefully maneuver up, down, and from side to side to get in the perfect position to sip nectar from all sorts of angles — they can even fly upside down!
2. Rufous Hummingbird
Rufous Hummingbirds are the only other species of hummingbird that regularly visits Georgia. However, unlike the Ruby-throated Hummingbird, which migrates to Georgia and the rest of the eastern United States during breeding season, Rufous Hummingbirds are only found in Georgia and Florida during the winter. Otherwise, their breeding range is the northwestern United States and into Canada.
They live in open areas such as forest edges, shrubby areas, meadows, yards and parks. They’re even found in mountain meadows up to 12,600 feet in elevation, though this is mostly during migration. Like many other hummingbird species, Rufous Hummingbirds love tubular flowers full of nectar and will likely visit backyard feeders and gardens.
Rufous Hummingbirds are famous for their beautiful, “rufous” plumage — the color of a shiny copper penny. Females lack the vibrancy of males and instead have green uppers with some rufous coloring on her tail and sides, and sometimes on the throat. The coloration of Rufous Hummingbirds is nearly identical to that of Allen’s Hummingbirds, making it a real challenge to differentiate the two species in the field.
Rare and Occasional Hummingbirds in Georgia
1. Allen’s Hummingbird
Allen’s Hummingbirds are close relative to Rufous Hummingbirds and very similar in appearance. The main distinction between these two species is that male Allen’s Hummingbirds have a green back. However, this characteristic is sometimes misleading, as Rufous Hummingbirds can express this trait as well.
Allen’s Hummingbirds are less likely to appear in Georgia, though. According to ebird.org, their primary range is along the western coasts of California and southern Oregon, where they mostly inhabit semi-open areas such as open woodlands, shrubby areas, in addition to parks and gardens.
2. Green-Breasted Mango
Green-breasted Mangos have only been spotted in Georgia randomly over the years. They typically reside in the American tropics, where they are widespread, and their northern range only regularly extends to northeastern Mexico.
Green-breasted Mangos are on the large side for hummingbirds, and look similar in appearance to Mexican Violetears. They have long, curved bills and green plumage overall with dark blue patches on the throat.
3. Rivoli’s Hummingbird
Rivoli’s Hummingbirds are another large species of hummingbird. Males have dark heads that look almost black in low light, but when the sun hits them right, their green throats and purple foreheads shine. The rest of their bodies are covered in green plumage, and their wings are brownish. Females lack the coloration on their heads, and are duller overall.
These hummingbirds are found in the mountainous forests of Mexico and will travel north to the southern portions of Arizona and New Mexico during winter. They only rarely appear in Georgia, and these visits are unpredictable.
4. Black-Chinned Hummingbird
Black-chinned Hummingbirds are common and widespread in the western half of the United States and into Mexico. They prefer somewhat arid regions and a wide range of habitats at lower elevations. They’re also likely to visit suburban areas and backyards to feed. Georgia isn’t a normal part of their range, but they’ve been spotted in the state multiple times.
These hummingbirds are similar in shape to Ruby-throated Hummingbirds. Males have gray-green upper parts, pale gray bellies, and dark heads with iridescent purple throats. Females are just green on their uppers with whitish bellies.
5. Anna’s Hummingbird
Anna’s Hummingbirds are somewhat large hummingbirds with big heads and stocky bodies. They’re mostly green throughout their bodies, with gray patches and bellies. Males have a bright, iridescent purple-pink head. Anna’s Hummingbirds tend to be pretty vocal, and call with a metallic, buzzy song.
These hummingbirds are mostly found along the west coast, where they often reside year-round. They reside in a wide range of habitats, but prefer semi-open areas such as woodlands, groves, parks, and gardens. Very rare occurrences of them have appeared along the southeast coast, including in Georgia.
6. Broad-Tailed Hummingbird
Broad-tailed Hummingbirds are found in mountainous habitats such as meadows and forests, where they also breed. Their range is mostly in the western regions of the United States, in states such as Nevada, Arizona, and New Mexico. Only a few observations of them have been made in Georgia, mostly on the western edge of the state.
These hummingbirds have similar colorations as Ruby-throated Hummingbirds. Males are mostly green throughout their uppers and possess an iridescent, red throat. Females are similar, but duller in plumage. Their buzzy trills are common sounds in the mountains where they gather.
7. Broad-Billed Hummingbird
Broad-billed Hummingbirds are mostly found in Mexico, where they’re very common, and in some areas of the southwestern United States. They tend to reside in semi-open woodlands and near the edges of streams at higher elevations. They’re not frequent visitors to Georgia and have only been seen rarely in the state.
Male Broad-billed Hummingbirds have vibrant, green and blue plumage overall, and bright red bills. Like most birds species, females lack the range of color and a mostly a dull, gray-brown throughout — though they do have a white stripe around their eyes.
8. Calliope Hummingbird
Calliope Hummingbirds are tiny even for hummingbird standards. They’re the smallest hummingbirds in North America, weighing only one-tenth of an ounce. Their tails and bills are also a bit shorter compared to most species of hummingbirds. Males have green plumage on their uppers and pale, dingy bellies and sides. Females look similar to Rufous Hummingbirds.
They’re found mostly in the western portion of the country, migrating northwest in the spring and south to Mexico in the winter. However, far-traveling individuals will sometimes end up far east of their range and rare Calliope Hummingbirds have been spotted in western Georgia.
9. Buff-Bellied Hummingbird
Buff-bellied Hummingbirds are commonly found along the eastern coast of Mexico into Central America. During the winter, populations of these birds are regularly found in the southern coasts of Texas and Louisiana. Rare observations of Buff-bellied Hummingbirds have also happened in Georgia and Florida.
These hummingbirds are medium sized. They have bright red bills, rufous tails, and iridescent green heads. While they do have buff coloration on their bellies, it’s not as noticeable of a field marker as their name implies. Buff-bellied Hummingbirds are one of the few hummingbirds species where males and females share similar appearances.
Hummingbird Migration in Georgia
In the spring Ruby-throated Hummingbirds begin their northern migration. They are the only species of Hummingbird that spends the spring and summer breeding season in the eastern half of the country. During the fall they make that same long migration back down to Mexico and parts of Central America.
Rufous Hummingbirds are found in the northwestern United States during the breeding season, but they migrate southeast in late June. In Georgia they’re typically found during the winter. Compared to other species of hummingbirds, Rufous Hummingbirds are the most likely to travel far past their range.
HOW TO MAKE HUMMINGBIRD NECTAR
Making your own hummingbird nectar is a very simple process and only requires two ingredients; sugar, and water.
1 cup of white table sugar (refined sugar only)
4 cups of water
- Heat your water to help the sugar dissolve more easily. Microwave the water for a minute, heat it up in a saucepan, or just use the hottest tap water your faucet can produce. Avoid using a coffee machine to heat water as caffeine is toxic to birds.
- Mix the sugar and the water in a clean container. Stir the water with a large spoon while slowly adding the sugar.
- Once all the grains of sugar are fully dissolved, allow the solution to cool. Once cooled it’s ready to be poured into the feeder.
- Store any extra sugar water in the refrigerator for up to one week. Storing extra nectar will make refilling the feeder quick and easy.
Check out this article for even more information about making your own hummingbird nectar.