There have been reports of nearly 30 different species of hummingbirds seen in the United States. Some of these are common can be found every year, while some are rare or accidental visitors. When it comes to hummingbirds in Illinois, we have found 2 species that are common or semi-common and 3 that are rare. That’s a total of 5 species of hummingbirds you may be able to see in Illinois.
5 Hummingbirds in Illinois
The 5species of hummingbirds in Illinois are the Ruby-throated hummingbird, Rufous Hummingbird, Anna’s Hummingbird, Broad-billed Hummingbird, and the Mexican Violetear (aka Green Violetear).
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 Illinois. 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 more common species first, and the 3 rare ones last.
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. 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 Illinois during the spring and summer months. They will arrive in April and May and leave in September.
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.
Sightings of the rufous hummingbird have been made throughout Illinois. They are much less common than the ruby-throat, but there is usually at least one sighting in the state each year.
3. 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. 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 very uncommon on the east coast, but they do stray from time to time. I could only find one recorded sighting, when a vagrant strayed into Peoria in 2010 and many people got photos. However, the occasional sighting also happens in surrounding states so while very rare, it’s not impossible for an Anna’s to wander into Illinois.
4. Broad-billed Hummingbird
Scientific name: Cynanthus latirostris
Broad-billed hummingbirds live in Mexico, and the only two states in the U.S. where the they are known to breed are Arizona and New Mexico. Males are hard to mistake with their purplish-blue throat and blueish-green belly. They also have an orange beak with a black tip. Females are a washed out green above and grayish below with the typical black beak.
Occasional sightings have been made east of the Mississippi, and at least two in Illinois. The broad-billed is considered very rare in this part of the U.S.
5. Mexican Violetear (aka Green Violetear)
Scientific name: Colibri thalassinus
The larger Mexican violetear is only common in Mexico and Central America, however they have been spotted in several states in the U.S., especially in the eastern half of the state of Texas. They are larger hummingbirds with an emerald green body, dark wings, and a patch of iridescent purple across their cheek.
Sightings of the mexican violetear have been made in many states in the eastern half of the U.S., but usually only once or twice as they are quite rare beyond Texas. However in 2021 one stopped by a backyard feeder for a couple days in Mundelein, much to the excitement of backyard bird watchers in the neighborhood!
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.