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6 Hummingbirds in South Dakota (Common & Rare)

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 South Dakota , we have found 1 common species, and 5 species that have visited but would mostly be considered rare. That’s a total of 6 species of hummingbirds you may be able to see in South Dakota.

6 Hummingbirds in South Dakota

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 South Dakota. 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, South Dakota falls 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, there is always a possibility of something uncommon turning up. 

One notable location I will point out is the Black Hills National Forest. Many of the rare species I touch on later is this article have been seen in this area. 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.

Enjoy!


1. Ruby-throated hummingbird

The Ruby-Throated, common visitor of eastern North America. (Image credit: birdfeederhub)

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.  

South Dakota is right at the far edge of their range, so while they can be spotted throughout the state they are much more common along the eastern border. Ruby’s will begin to arrive 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 South Dakota are not frequent, and they may even be considered rare. There are only a handful of sightings on eBird, most occurring around Rapid City and the Black Hills National Forest. The summer months are more common for sightings.  


3. Broad-tailed hummingbird 

Broad-tailed Hummingbird | image by BMC Ecology via Flickr | CC BY 2.0

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 South Dakota, however they can be occasionally spotted in the far western portion of the state in the Black Hills National Forest. Look for them here from late spring to summer.


4. Calliope

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 in South Dakota but have been spotted a few times, mainly along the western border. So while you are unlikely to see a Calliope in the state, it’s not completely impossible for a stray summer visitor to appear in the west.


5. Black-chinned Hummingbird

Black-chinned Hummingbird | image by Bettina Arrigoni via Flickr | CC BY-SA 2.0

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. They are extremely uncommon in South Dakota and even eBird only has about three recorded sightings in the state. However there are populations of them in neighboring Wyoming, Montana and Colorado, so every now and then a stray might drift into the state. 


6. Anna’s Hummingbird

anna's hummingbird
photo credit: Becky Matsubara, CC BY 2.0

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. As far as I could find there have only been a couple of recorded sightings in South Dakota. Sightings were spread throughout different areas of the state and 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

About Melanie

Melanie has been a birding hobbyist for years and loves feeding and photographing birds of all types.