5 Hummingbirds in Washington State (Common & Rare)

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There have been reports of as many as 27 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 Washington, we have found 4 species that are common , and 1 that has been spotted in Washington more than once but is considered rare. That’s a total of 5 species of hummingbirds in Washington, making it a good state for feeding and spotting hummingbirds.

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5 Hummingbirds in Washington

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 Washington. The most common Washington hummingbirds are Anna’s hummingbird, Rufous hummingbird, Black-chinned hummingbird and the Calliope hummingbird. For each species in this list you’ll find the species name, pictures and specifications about appearance, and where and when you may be able to spot them. We will list the 4 more common species first, and the less common one last.

Stay tuned at the end of the article for tips on attracting hummingbirds to your yard.

Enjoy!


1. 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. 

Black-chinned hummingbirds are more common in the eastern half of Washington. Sightings become sparse around Seattle and it would be hard to find one any further west. Look for them to arrive in the spring, and then move into more mountainous areas in late summer before migrating south again. 


2. Calliope Hummingbird

Calliope Hummingbird

Scientific name: Selasphorus calliope

The calliope hummingbird mainly spends its breeding season in the Pacific Northwest and parts of western Canada, but can be in many western states during the spring and fall migration. This is 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 pass through most of Washington during spring and fall migration, but spend the summer in the more forested, mountainous areas of the Cascades and areas outside the Columbia Basin. They are not often seen west of Seattle. 


3. 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 their summer in Oregon, Washington and Canada, then zip back down through the Rockies in the fall. 

Rufous hummingbirds can commonly be seen throughout Washington during the breeding season from spring to early fall.  They are one of the most common hummingbird to spot in the far western portions of the state and along the coast. 

It's never too late to start feeding hummingbirds. Here's a quick list of things you'll need to get you started!

  1. Hummingbird feeder poles
  2. 12oz hummingbird feeders
  3. Ant moats (optional)
  4. Make your hummingbird nectar at home
Fill your feeders with the nectar, and put them out! Hummingbirds can start showing up anywhere between late February and early May, depending on where you live.

4. 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 in a few of the western states, including Washington. 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. They are happy in backyards and love gardens and eucalyptus trees. 

Anna’s are common in western Washington all year, but are seen only sparingly in eastern parts of the state. Some may migrate a short distance to spend the breeding season in the Cascades. 


5. Costa’s Hummingbird

Costa’s Hummingbird | image by Mike’s Birds via Flickr | CC BY 2.0

Scientific name: Calypte costae

Male Costa’s are known for their deep purple faces. They have a splash of purple on their foreheads as well as their throat, with purple feathers flaring out on both sides like a mustache. Females are green above with white below. Costa’s are compact and compared to other hummingbirds have slightly shorter wings and tail. They can be found year-round in Baja and southern California.

Costa’s hummingbirds are rare outside of the U.S. southwest, but occasionally they wander all the way up to Washington. I found records of recorded sightings at least a few times over the years, so it’s always possible one might wander into the state.



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.