There aren’t any other birds that are quite like hummingbirds. These tiny, nectar drinking fliers are famous for their incredibly fast wingbeats, long bills, and bold colors. Though smaller than most birds, hummingbirds are capable of traveling extremely long distances twice a year to migrate. They’re known to be territorial, too, and will eagerly defend their food and nests from much larger threats. Only one species of hummingbird is regularly occurring in Ohio, but there are a few other species that may appear on chance occasions — keep reading to learn about all of the hummingbirds in Ohio.
ARE THERE HUMMINGBIRDS IN OHIO?
There’s only one species of hummingbird that is regularly found in Ohio, the Ruby-throated Hummingbird. They don’t reside here year-round, and are only found during breeding season. However, they aren’t very afraid of humans and will often come close to windows and people-inhabited spaces to feed — making them very fun to observe.
In addition to Ruby-Throated Hummingbirds, there are other species that make rare or accidental appearances in Ohio and other eastern areas in America. These species include, Mexican Violetears, Anna’s Hummingbirds, Rufous Hummingbirds, Allen’s Hummingbirds, and Calliope Hummingbirds.
HUMMINGBIRDS IN OHIO
1. RUBY-THROATED HUMMINGBIRD
Look for Ruby-throated Hummingbirds in Ohio during the breeding season in spring and summer. In fact, it’s the only species of hummingbird that breeds in the eastern United States. In the fall, they migrate south to spend winters in parts of Central America
Ruby-throated Hummingbirds are small hummingbirds with thin bills that are slightly downcurved towards the tip. Their short wings don’t reach all the way to their tails while perched, and their legs are so short that they aren’t able to hop or walk like other birds. Males have an iridescent throat patch that glows ruby-red in the sunlight, but both sexes feature emerald green plumage on their upperparts, with whitish underparts.
Flower nectar is the primary food source for hummingbirds, but Ruby-throated Hummingbirds will eat the occasional insect. To feed, they use their rapidly beating wings to hover in front of a feeder or flower. Their long bills help them reach far inside the flower to suck up nectar. While hovering, their wings can beat more than 50 times a second.
Find Ruby-throated Hummingbirds in meadows, gardens, open woodlands, and suburbs — where they’re very likely to visit backyard feeders. They seem to prefer orange and red flowers, so plant these in your yard along with a feeder to attract them.
Check out this article for other ways to attract hummingbirds to your yard. Offering a feeder or flowers in your yard also makes it more likely that these hummingbirds will visit you the next year, as they remember the locations of food sources for when they return.
Rare And Occasional Hummingbirds In Ohio
2. MEXICAN VIOLETEAR
Individual Mexican Violetears have been spotted in scattered locations throughout the country, including Ohio. However, this only happens very rarely. Otherwise, these birds are found in the tropic highlands from Mexico to Nicaragua, where they’re fairly common. They favor the edges and clearings of pine-oak forests and are somewhat nomadic, traveling around from place to place.
Mexican Violetears are mostly a deep green overall and feature a dark band on their tails. They get their name from the deep violet markings on their chests and near their eyes, on the sides of their heads. They stay pretty well hidden when feeding on nectar, but it’s chirpy call makes it easier to locate.
3. ANNA’S HUMMINGBIRD
Anna’s Hummingbirds are commonly found year-round along the western coast of the United States. During the winter they even remain in areas where no other hummingbirds are found. They prefer woodlands with open areas, desert sage scrubs, and gardens, and are very likely to visit feeders. It happens rarely, but during the winter individuals have been spotted in Ohio and other places far east of their range.
Anna’a hummingbirds are medium sized, with stocky bodies and broad tails for hummingbirds. They have a short, fairly straight bill, and short wings that don’t extend past the tail when perched. Anna’a Hummingbirds are mostly green, with some gray. Males feature iridescent magenta feathers on their heads and throats, and are also known to be more vocal than other species, calling with a buzzy, metallic song.
4. RUFOUS HUMMINGBIRD
Rufous Hummingbirds are small hummingbirds with slender, straight bills and short wings that don’t reach the end of the tail when perched. They feature orange plumage that seems to glow in the sunlight as well as iridescent throat patches.
They look extremely similar to Allen’s Hummingbirds, but are found in a wider range. They breed along the northeastern coast of North America and migrate south to spend winters in Mexico, in oak-pine forests and shrubby areas with open spaces.
Rufous Hummingbirds are well-known for their feisty behavior. They’re very territorial and will readily attack any bird that visits their food source or nest, including birds much larger than them. Out of all the hummingbirds found in the western coasts of North America, Rufous Hummingbirds are the most likely to wander east of their range. They’ve been spotted multiple times in Ohio in the fall and winter often at feeders.
5. ALLEN’S HUMMINGBIRD
Allen’s Hummingbirds are closely related to Rufous Hummingbirds, but with a more limited range. Allen’s Hummingbirds primarily nest along a narrow strip of coastal California and migrate south along the western coast of Mexico. They ten to reside in shrubby coastal areas and other semi-open habitats. Like many of the other hummingbirds on this list, there are rare outliers in this species that sometimes end up far out of their normal range, and a few have been spotted in Ohio.
Allen’s Hummingbirds and Rufous Hummingbirds share nearly identical, coppery-orange and green plumage. Both sexes have bronze throat patches. Telling apart Allen’s and Rufous Hummingbirds is extremely difficult, and usually requires high-quality photographs to do so. The main differences between birds is the shape of their tail feathers.
6. CALLIOPE HUMMINGBIRD
Calliope Hummingbirds are the tinniest birds in North America, about 3 inches in length and only one-tenth of an ounce. Even compared to other hummingbirds they’re small. They have short tails and short wings that barely reach past their tails, their bills are also shorter than most other hummingbirds. Their bodies are mostly green, but males have throat patches are a shimmery magenta.
These hummingbirds are primarily found in the western coast of the United States, in mountain meadows and open forests and shrubby areas, especially near streams. In the winter, some migrate all the way down to southern Mexico. Spotting them in Ohio is extremely rare, but individuals may be spotted at feeders during their spring and fall migration.
Despite their tiny size, Calliope Hummingbirds are extremely territorial, like other hummingbirds, and will even attack much larger birds, even those as big as Red-tailed Hawks during breeding season.
HUMMINGBIRD MIGRATION IN OHIO
As stated earlier, Ruby-throated Hummingbirds are the only hummingbirds that breed in eastern America. During the winter, these hummingbirds reside in Central America in places such as Mexico, Costa Rica, and Panama. In the spring they begin their impressive migration north for breeding season, with males generally leaving a little earlier than females.
During breeding season, Ruby-throated Hummingbirds are found all over the eastern U.S. — check here to see when they arrive in other states and what the best times are to place feeders out. They’re only around for a short amount of time, though. In the fall they begin their migration back to the south.
HOW TO MAKE YOUR OWN 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.