The 4 Common Hummingbirds of Colorado

As I write this it’s mid February and winter will be over soon. That means hummingbirds will begin to show up at our feeders and gardens before we know it, which is a sure sign that Spring is here. Due to the migration habits of the different species along with geography, different species of hummingbirds can be found in different U.S. states. In this article we’ll be discussing the common hummingbirds of Colorado.

There are some other species that do sometimes pass through Colorado, but the 4 species listed below have a range in the state according to the Cornell Lab of Ornithology.

The hummingbirds of Colorado

1. Rufous Hummingbird

Length: 2.8-3.5 in
Weight: 0.1-0.2 oz
Wingspan: 4.3 in

Rufous Hummingbirds have a migration path directly through Colorado from Mexico and Central America to the Pacific Northwest, western Canada, and Alaska. Look for them in the Spring as they are passing through and then again in the Fall on their way back from their breeding grounds. They make an almost 4 thousand mile trip, twice a year!

Rufous Hummingbirds are common at hummingbird feeders and are known for being territorial and aggressive with other hummers. They have been reported as having excellent memories, the same birds have been seen stopping at the same backyards and feeders along their path each year.

2. Broad-tailed Hummingbird

photo by: DickDaniels | CC 3.0

Length: 3.1-3.5 in
Weight: 0.1-0.2 oz 
Wingspan: 5.25 in

Broad-tailed Hummingbirds are only found in 8-9 states in the western half of the United States, Colorado is one of those states. This species has a breeding range in the majority of the state and mostly a migration range east of Denver. They are active at feeders between late May to early August when they are in Colorado and its surrounding states making this the best time period to look for them.

Broad-tailed Hummingbirds are iridescent green above with greenish flanks and a white chest and line down the belly. Adult males have a rose-magenta throat patch. They are medium in size compared to other North American hummingbirds being in-between the size of a Calliope and a Rufous.

3. Black-chinned Hummingbird

photo by: gailhampshire | CC 2.0

Length: 3.5 in
Weight: 0.1-0.2 oz
Wingspan: 4.3 in

The Black-chinned Hummingbird is most common around the Rocky Mountains and to the west in the United States. They have a breeding range in central and western Colorado. During the warm months they can be pretty common around feeders and they’re easy to attract with some homemade hummingbird nectar.

Most Black-chinned Hummingbirds winter in a fairly small area in Mexico and Central America not far south of Texas. Their breeding range though extends from southern Texas to Northern Washington State, basically the western third of the United States. They are dull metallic green on top and grayish white underneath. Males have a blackish purple throat.

4. Calliope Hummingbird

Length: 3.1-3.5 in
Weight: 0.1-0.1 oz
Wingspan: 4.1-4.3 in

Calliope’s are migration only in most of Colorado but are still very common during this time of year. As with other migrating hummingbirds, the best time to see one at your feeders is during the Spring or Fall as they are migrating north and south. They have a similar range as the Black-chinned Hummingbird.

Similar to other hummingbirds, they are attracted by nectar feeders and native nectar producing flowers. They are the smallest hummingbirds in Colorado and the United States. Like the Rufous, they can be very territorial and have even been know to chase off Red-tailed Hawks! These tiny hummingbirds are named after Calliope, the muse of eloquence and epic poetry, who inspired Homer’s Iliad and Odyssey.


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