Seeing hummingbirds in North Carolina is a delightful and exciting experience, captivating the hearts of birdwatchers and nature enthusiasts throughout the state. These tiny birds add color and joy to the natural surroundings with their iridescent feathers and incredible hovering flight.
Whether exploring the woodlands, tending to your garden, or simply admiring from your porch, encountering a hummingbird in North Carolina is a truly thrilling experience.
What Are The Most Common Hummingbirds In North Carolina?
The most common hummingbirds of North Carolina include the Ruby-throated Hummingbird, Rufous Hummingbird, Buff-bellied Hummingbird, and the Black-chinned Hummingbird.
This blog post will explore the different types of hummingbirds you can observe in North Carolina, including species like the common Ruby-throated Hummingbird and accidental visitors like the Rufous Hummingbird.
North Carolina Hummingbirds
According to the latest data from ebird, there are four observed species of hummingbirds in North Carolina. This data has been compiled from over 41,400 dedicated bird watchers throughout the state.
Here are some quick facts:
- Ruby-throated Hummingbirds are the most common observed in North Carolina
- Black-chinned Hummingbirds are the least widely observed species in North Carolina
- Buff-bellied Hummingbirds are the largest observed species in North Carolina
- Rufous Hummingbirds are the smallest observed species in North Carolina
4 Types Of Hummingbirds In North Carolina
1. Ruby-throated Hummingbird
The Ruby-throated Hummingbird is a small, colorful bird native to the eastern United States and parts of Canada, Mexico, and Central America. They are the only native species of Hummingbird in NC and can be seen in the state all year round.
- Length: 7-9cm (2.8-3.5 inches)
- Weight: 2-6g (0.1-0.2oz)
- Wingspan: 8-11cm (3.1-4.3 inches)
- Ruby-throated Hummingbird Scientific Name: Archilochus colubris
- Spring Migration: March-May
- Fall Migration: August-September
The Ruby-throated Hummingbird is a tiny bird with a slender bill and short wings.
They have metallic green feathers on their backs and crowns and whitish-gray underparts.
Males have a brilliant iridescent red throat, black chin, and a blackish forked tail. Conversely, females have a white throat and large white tips on their tails.
Ruby-throated Hummingbirds, especially males, are easy to identify because of their bright, iridescent colors.
Their wings are swift and blur-like when they fly, making it easy to spot them in flight. They also have a slender, curved beak, which they use to feed on nectar from flowers.
You can spot Ruby-throated Hummingbirds in various habitats, including open woodlands, gardens, backyards, and meadows.
They prefer to live in areas with abundant nectar sources, such as flowering plants and shrubs.
Hummingbirds are nectar feeders, and the Ruby-throated Hummingbird is no exception. They feed primarily on the nectar of flowering tubular plants but also eat insects and spiders.
They have a high metabolism and must consume a lot of food to maintain their energy levels. They are familiar visitors to backyard feeders that offer nectar or sugar-water.
- Ruby-throated Hummingbirds are the only species of hummingbird that breed in eastern North America.
- They are the smallest bird species found in the eastern United States.
- Hummingbirds have an incredible metabolism and their wings can beat up to 53 times per second.
- During migration, Ruby-throated Hummingbirds can travel up to 2,000 miles from their breeding regions to their wintering areas in Central America and Mexico.
2. Rufous Hummingbird
The Rufous Hummingbird is a small bird species found in the western half of North America and Mexico. They are rarely seen in North Carolina but are accidental vagrants during the colder non-breeding season, especially around the Blue Ridge Mountain Range.
- Length: 7-9cm (2.8-3.5 inches)
- Weight: 2-5g (0.1-0.2oz)
- Wingspan: Avg 11cm (4.3 inches)
- Rufous Hummingbird Scientific Name: Selasphorus rufus
- Spring Migration: February-May
- Fall Migration: June-October
Rufous Hummingbirds have slender bodies, short wings, and a tapered tail.
Males have orange-brown or coppery rufous upperparts, sides, and tails. They have a striking, iridescent orange-red throat, and some have green specs on their backs.
Females have metallic green upperparts, white throats with bronze-colored spots, white underparts, and orange-brown or rufous sides.
You can identify Rufous Hummingbirds by their orange-brown coloration and the iridescent orange-red throat of the males.
They use a slender, curved beak to feed on nectar from flowers.
In flight, their wings are rapid and buzzing and known to hover in place for extended periods.
You can spot Rufous Hummingbirds in various habitats, including open woodlands, mountain meadows, forest edges, and gardens.
They breed in areas with forest edges that have dense understory in the Pacific Northwest.
During migration and winter, they can be seen in areas from California to Texas, Mexico, Central America, and the Gulf Coast coastal areas.
As with most hummingbirds, Rufous Hummingbirds are primarily nectar feeders, consuming nectar from various tubular flowers, including penstemons, columbines, and salvias.
They also eat small insects, which provide protein and other essential nutrients.
- Rufous Hummingbirds have one of the longest migrations of any North American hummingbird, traveling up to 3,000 miles from their breeding grounds in the Pacific Northwest to their wintering grounds in southern Mexico.
- They are one of the most aggressive hummingbirds and will defend their territory fiercely against other hummingbirds, even birds much larger.
- The Rufous Hummingbird is the most common hummingbird species found in Alaska.
3. Buff-bellied Hummingbird
The Buff-bellied Hummingbird is a large hummingbird species found in Mexico and the southernmost regions of Texas. They are rare or accidental visitors to North Carolina, but occasional observations have occurred during the winter months.
- Length: 10-11 cm (3.9-4.3 inches)
- Weight: 2.9-4.7g (0.1-0.2oz)
- Wingspan: Avg 14.5cm (5.7 inches)
- Buff-bellied Hummingbird Scientific Name: Amazilia yucatanensis
Buff-bellied Hummingbirds have bright green backs, heads, chests, and throats, with a buff-cinnamon-colored belly and bright red bill.
Males have a more vibrant green coloration, and females have a mottled white chin.
You can identify Buff-bellied Hummingbirds by their bright green and buff coloration.
They use a medium-length bill to feed on nectar from flowers.
You can spot Buff-bellied Hummingbirds in semi-open wooded areas, thickets, and gardens of the southwest.
Buff-bellied Hummingbirds primarily feed on nectar from flowers, but they also consume small insects and nectar from backyard bird feeders.
They are attracted to red and orange tubular flowers, such as honeysuckle, trumpet creeper, and coralbean.
The Buff-bellied Hummingbird is a unique and beautiful bird species in Mexico and southern Texas. Their bright green and buff coloration quickly identifies them.
4. Black-chinned Hummingbird
The Black-chinned Hummingbird is a small bird species in the western United States and Mexico. They are a rare visitor in North Carolina, but residents have observed them in the spring, winter, and fall months.
- Length: Avg 9cm (3.5 inches)
- Weight: 2.3-5g (0.1-0.2oz)
- Wingspan: Avg 11cm (4.3 inches)
- Black-Chinned Hummingbird Scientific Name: Archilochus alexandri
- Spring Migration: March-May
- Fall Migration: August-October
Black-chinned Hummingbirds are metallic green above and whitish-pale below.
The male has a matte black chin, purple or violet throat, white breast, and a black, forked tail.
Females are paler and have a grayish-white face, throat, chest, and belly, with a shorter, white-tipped tail.
You can quickly identify male Black-chinned Hummingbirds by their metallic green back, crown, black chin, and purple throat.
They also tend to wag their tails when feeding, which is another quick way to identify these tiny hummingbirds.
Black-chinned Hummingbirds prefer to live in open woodlands, riparian areas such as streams and rivers, and gardens in the western half of North America.
Black-chinned Hummingbirds feed on nectar from flowers and small insects for protein and other essential nutrients. They also feed on sugar water from hummingbird feeders placed in backyards.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
What Kind Of Hummingbirds Live In North Carolina?
Only the Ruby-throated Hummingbird species lives in North Carolina during the year. Three accidental vagrants visit the state on rare occasions. These include the Rufous Hummingbird, Buff-bellied Hummingbird, and the Black-chinned Hummingbird.
Do Hummingbirds Winter In North Carolina?
Yes, only the Ruby-throated Hummingbird winters in North Carolina. Other hummingbird species are accidental vagrants to the state during the winter non-breeding season.
Are There Ruby-Throated Hummingbirds In North Carolina?
Yes, ruby-throated hummingbirds are the only native species in North Carolina and can be seen year-round in the state.
Keep An Eye Out For Hummingbirds In North Carolina
Hummingbirds are a beautiful sight throughout North America. With only one species of hummingbird native to North Carolina, seeing a Ruby-throated Hummingbird is a common sight. Other hummingbirds, such as the Rufous Hummingbird, Buff-bellied Hummingbird, and Black-chinned Hummingbird, are accidental visitors to North Carolina but are easily identifiable.
Whether you’re a bird-watching enthusiast or just someone who enjoys learning about nature, taking some time to learn about the kinds of hummingbirds in North Carolina will provide you with a newfound appreciation for these exciting birds.
Remember, you can attract hummingbirds to your backyard by providing nectar-rich flowers or setting up a hummingbird feeder filled with delicious sugar water.
We hope this article has provided all the information you need. If you have questions about identifying more species of birds in North Carolina or finding out which ones live near you, let us know!
We would love to help identify new bird species for our readers.