10 Hummingbirds in Colorado (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 Colorado, we have found 4 species that are commonly seen, and 6 that have been spotted in Colorado but are considered rare. That’s a total of 10 species of hummingbirds in Colorado, making Colorado a pretty good state to spot a variety of these tiny birds.  

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10 Hummingbirds in Colorado

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 Colorado. 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 4 more common species first, and the 6 rare ones last.

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

Enjoy!


1. Broad-tailed hummingbird

Broad-tailed Hummingbird | image by Juan Zamora 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. This is likely one reason they are one of the most common Colorado hummingbirds, being well suited for mountain life. 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. so look for them between May and August. They come to Colorado for the summer breeding season in the central and western parts of the state, but are less common in the eastern third of the state where you may only see them during the spring and fall migration.


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 They winter in Central America they head up the Pacific coast early in the spring. After breeding in the far north, they head back down through the U.S. passing over the Rocky Mountains in late summer on their way back south. 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 only pass through Colorado during migration, mainly the return trip south in July and August. It is believed they leave the north earlier than some other species that migrate in the fall so they can take advantage of the late summer wildflowers in mountainous meadows.  


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 the summer in the Pacific northwest and Canada, then zip back down through the Rockies in late summer. 

Rufous hummingbirds only pass through Colorado during their summer/fall migration. Keep an eye out for them throughout the Rockies in July and August. They are less commonly spotted in eastern areas of the state. 

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. 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. 

Look for black-chinned hummingbirds in Colorado from spring to fall. They can be found throughout most of the state, however tend to be much less common in the northeastern corner and along the eastern border.


5. 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 such as California, Oregon and Arizona. 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 rare for Colorado but are occasionally spotted in the state. 


6. 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 far southern California, and during the breeding season in a small section of Arizona and Nevada.

Costa’s are occasionally sighted in Colorado but are considered rare for the state.


7. Rivoli’s Hummingbird

Rivoli’s Hummingbird | image by Nate Steiner via Flickr

Scientific name: Eugenes fulgens

The Rivoli’s hummingbird was formerly known as the “magnificent hummingbird”.  Males have a dark purple head with a brighter teal colored throat. Their body is green and brown. Often they can appear overall dark in certain light. Females do not share this coloration and are green above and white below. They are slightly larger than most hummingbirds seen in the U.S., with a longer bill. They are mainly found in Mexico and like shady canyons and mountainous forests. Southern portions of Arizona and New Mexico are the only states where they are regularly seen in the U.S. 

While rare, Rivoli’s have occasionally been spotted in Colorado.


8. Blue-throated Mountain Gem

Blue-throated Mountain Gem | image by Alan Schmierer via Flickr

Scientific name: Lampornis clemenciae

The blue-throated mountain gem is the largest hummingbird species to nest in the United States, where they are only regularly seen in the far southeastern corner of Arizona / southwestern corner of New Mexico. Both sexes have two white stripes on the face, a green back and a gray breast. Males have a bright blue throat. In the wild, look for them along flower-lined streams in mountainous areas.

The blue-throated mountain gem is considered quite rare for Colorado, but there are a few sightings on record. However as of writing this article none of them were recent.


9. Broad-billed Hummingbird

Broad-billed Hummingbird| image by Shawn Taylor via Flickr | CC BY 2.0

The only two states in the U.S. where the broad-billed hummingbird is 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. 

There have only been a small handful of recorded sightings of the broad-billed hummingbird in Colorado over the years.


10. White-eared Hummingbird

White-eared Hummingbird | image by Dominic Sherony via Wikimedia Commons | CC BY-SA 2.0

Scientific name: Basilinna leucotis

The white-eared hummingbird is at home in Mexico and Central America, however occasionally they pop up in the southwestern U.S. Both females and males have a dark head with a large white stripe that starts above the eye, a green body and dark wings. Males have an orange beak with black tip, a blueish-green throat and some purple on the face which can look black a lot of the time. 

White-eared hummingbirds are so rare in Colorado I almost didn’t include them. The only sightings recorded in Colorado on eBird are when one strayed into Durango in the summer of 2005. So the very occasional lost white-eared isn’t impossible, but is quite rare.



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


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About Jesse

Jesse enjoys bird watching and feeding birds in his backyard, learning about the different species, and sharing his knowledge and experiences.