There have been reports of as many as 27 different species of hummingbirds seen in the United States. Some of these are common and can be found every year, while some are only rare or accidental visitors. When it comes to hummingbirds in Nebraska, we have found 1 common species, and 5 species that have visited but are rare. That’s a total of 6 species of hummingbirds you may be able to see in Nebraska.
6 Hummingbirds in Nebraska
The 6 species of hummingbirds in Nebraska are the Ruby-throated hummingbird, Rufous Hummingbird, Broad-tailed hummingbird, Calliope, Black-chinned Hummingbird, and the Anna’s Hummingbird.
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 Nebraska. 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. I tried to lay this out to list the hummingbirds you are more likely to see first, with the rarest last.
I will say upfront, Nebraska is in a somewhat “un-lucky” hummingbird zone, too far west for eastern species and too far east for western species. Because of this, hummingbirds overall aren’t as populous here as many other U.S. states. But if there is a silver lining to be found it’s that, being on the edge of many different species ranges, Nebraska does get accidental visits from wayward hummers. So there is always a possibility of something uncommon turning up.
One notable location I will point out is the town of Scottsbluff and Scotts Bluff National Monument. Many of the rare species I touch on later is this article have been seen in this area at least once. It could be the habitat or proximity to the western border, but the keen hummingbird observers seem to know this is an area to keep an eye on.
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 Nebraska during the spring and summer months. Nebraska is right at the far edge of their range, and while they can be spotted throughout the state they are far more common in the eastern half of the state. Ruby’s will begin to arrive along the eastern border in April and most will leave the state 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 back into the U.S. through California, spend the summer in the Pacific northwest and Canada, then zip back south through the Rockies in the fall. While the rufous is considered a hummingbird of the west, they are probably the second most commonly sighted species in the eastern U.S. after the ruby-throated hummingbird.
Recorded sightings of the rufous in Nebraska are not frequent enough to be considered “common”, but they have been spotted several times over the years. They have been seen throughout the state but may more more likely in the western half. The late summer months are more common for sightings but they can turn up any time.
3. 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 short term visitors in the U.S. , typically between between May and August in meadows and forest clearings.
Broad-tailed hummingbirds aren’t common in Nebraska, however they can be occasionally spotted in the far western portion of the state. Some spots where people have gotten lucky are the Wildcat Hills State Rec Area and Scotts Bluff National Monument. A large population of them can be found just “nextdoor” in Colorado and southeastern Wyoming, so it is likely that some broad-tailed from these areas wander over into Nebraska from time to time.
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 in Nebraska but have been spotted there several times, especially in the western and southern parts of the state. Along interstate 80 and around Terytown have historically had the most sightings, typically between July and September.
5. 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 at least once, including Nebraska where there have been just a few recorded sightings in late spring – late summer. They would be considered quite rare for the state, but you may get lucky.
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. 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 in the eastern and central U.S., but they do stray from time to time. EBird only has three recorded sightings in Nebraska. I decided to include them on this list because sightings have also happened in surrounding areas such as Denver, Des Moines and Kansas. So while rare, it’s not impossible for an Anna’s to wander into Nebraska. Sightings in this area tend to occur between October and December.
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.