Great Photographers Capture the Beauty of Hummingbirds in Pictures

Updated on November 2, 2017
Casey White profile image

Dorothy is a former newspaper reporter and the author of several books. Michael is a professional landscape/nature photographer.

Rufous Hummingbird Standing Guard in Our Backyard

I have placed this particular rufous hummingbird photo first because he has claimed our backyard as his own territory and successfully runs others away when he's around. Very territorial and extremely aggressive.  But so cute!
I have placed this particular rufous hummingbird photo first because he has claimed our backyard as his own territory and successfully runs others away when he's around. Very territorial and extremely aggressive. But so cute! | Source

Rufous Rules the Roost

If a rufous hummingbird claims your yard as its own, it will pretty much run all other hummers off, so your only hope is that he also likes a few of your neighbors' yards, which might allow the less aggressive hummers a chance at your feeders.

In our personal experience with the three feeders in our backyard, when a rufous is present, it is VERY territorial and will chase off all others (including butterflies), although lately we have had two rufous hummingbirds that have been doing battle daily with neither one submitting to the other. Apparently the only hummingbird that isn't afraid of a rufous is another rufous (at least that's the case in North America).

There are several different types of rufous hummingbirds, including:

  1. Rufous (Selasphorus rufus)
  2. Rufous sabre-wing (Campylopterus rufus)
  3. Rufous-breasted hermit (Glaucis hirsuta)
  4. Rufous-breasted sabre-wing (Campylopterus hyperythrus)
  5. Rufous-capped thornbill (Chalcostigma ruficeps)
  6. Rufous-cheeked (Goethalsia bella)
  7. Rufous-crested coquette (Lophornis delattrei)
  8. Rufous-Shafted Woodstar (Chaetocercus jourdanii)
  9. Rufous-Tailed (Amazilia tzacatl)
  10. Rufous-Throated Sapphire (Hylocharis sapphirina)
  11. Rufous-Vented Whitetip (Urosticte ruficrissa)
  12. Rufous-Webbed Brilliant (Heliodoxa branickii)

Male rufous hummingbirds have bright feathers in order to attract females, as do most of the other male hummingbirds. Female hummingbirds, on the other hand, have no bright feathers and are often a brown or dull green color.

I urge you to watch the videos at the end of this article for some unbelievable hummingbirds in action.

A female rufous having lunch in our backyard.
A female rufous having lunch in our backyard. | Source
Male rufous hummingbird, Los Lunas, NM.
Male rufous hummingbird, Los Lunas, NM. | Source

Identification Is Often Difficult

The species of some of the hummingbirds are identified within this article, but not all of them. It is often very difficult to identify the species because of angles of the photograph and because the iridescent wings often allow the color of the flower on which they are feeding to show through them. We have done our best to identify as many as possible, mostly with the help of the photographers who took the photos, but if you want to learn how to identify hummingbirds, there are three ways to do so - by appearance, by behavior and by territory - and this is a great article on TheSpruce.com that will show you how, so click here to access it.

I believe this is a blue-throated hummingbird
I believe this is a blue-throated hummingbird | Source

Unique Characteristics of a Hummingbird

Hummingbirds are the only birds that can hover for any length of time or fly backwards. Plus, they are able to change their direction almost instantly and are also able to fly upside down. The level of their aerobatic ability is pretty unbelievable as their small size allow for better aerial maneuverability.

Unlike most other birds, hummingbirds do not eat seeds, suet, scraps or bread, but instead feed exclusively on nectar and insects, such as gnats, ants and spiders.

This hummingbird probably won't be back for seconds.
This hummingbird probably won't be back for seconds. | Source
Hummingbird having a nice bath in Los Lunas, NM.
Hummingbird having a nice bath in Los Lunas, NM. | Source
I don't know what type of hummingbird this is, but it is a beauty!
I don't know what type of hummingbird this is, but it is a beauty! | Source

Seventeen Species of Hummingbirds in North America

There are over 300 species of hummingbirds in the entire Western Hemisphere, but only 17 species of hummingbirds in North America. They spend the winter in Central America or Mexico, migrating north to their breeding grounds in the southern part of the United States as early as February. Later in the spring, they migrate further north.

These are the 17 species found in North America:

  1. Allen's
  2. Anna's
  3. Berylline
  4. Black-chinned
  5. Blue-throated
  6. Broad-billed
  7. Broad-tailed
  8. Buff-bellied
  9. Calliope
  10. Costa's
  11. Lucifer
  12. Magnificent
  13. Ruby-throated
  14. Rufous
  15. Violet-crowned
  16. White-eared
  17. Xantus'


Calliope hummingbird, Los Lunas, NM
Calliope hummingbird, Los Lunas, NM | Source
Having a quick lunch in the flower garden.  Los Lunas, NM.
Having a quick lunch in the flower garden. Los Lunas, NM. | Source

According to an analysis by BirdLife International, approximately 10% of all hummingbirds on the Western Hemisphere are either critically endangered, endangered or vulnerable.

Violet-tailed sylph hummingbird, taken in Ecuador, where there are approximately 130 species of the tiny bird.
Violet-tailed sylph hummingbird, taken in Ecuador, where there are approximately 130 species of the tiny bird. | Source
As you can see, sometimes hummingbirds get along with each other just fine.
As you can see, sometimes hummingbirds get along with each other just fine. | Source

Flowers That Will Attract Hummingbirds

Hummingbirds love these flowers, so if you love hummingbirds and want to get some great photographs like the ones here, you might want to plant some of these in your yard:

  1. Bee balm
  2. Cardinal flower
  3. Salvia
  4. Zinnias
  5. Butterfly bush
  6. Bleeding hearts
  7. Trumpet creeper
  8. Lupine
  9. Petunia
  10. Columbine flowers

The nectar in the flowers keeps the hummingbirds coming back.
The nectar in the flowers keeps the hummingbirds coming back. | Source
I believe this is a broad-billed hummingbird.
I believe this is a broad-billed hummingbird. | Source

According to birds-of-north-america.net, there are at least 23 different types of hummingbird species that have been seen in North America, including Siberian ruby-throat, cinnamon, bumblebee, antillean and the plain-capped starthroat hummingbirds, which are not on our list of 17.

Booted racket-tail hummingbird. taken in Ecuador.
Booted racket-tail hummingbird. taken in Ecuador. | Source
Green-crowned brilliant hummingbird coming into feed. Tandayapa Bird Lodge in Tandayapa, Pichincha, Ecuador.
Green-crowned brilliant hummingbird coming into feed. Tandayapa Bird Lodge in Tandayapa, Pichincha, Ecuador. | Source

Hummingbirds are the smallest bird species in North America.

I think this is a broad-billed hummingbird, but please don't consider that to be a positive identification.
I think this is a broad-billed hummingbird, but please don't consider that to be a positive identification. | Source
Green-crowned brilliant hummingbird, taken in  Ecuador.
Green-crowned brilliant hummingbird, taken in Ecuador. | Source
Source
An unidentified hummingbird shot in infrared.
An unidentified hummingbird shot in infrared. | Source
This is possibly a buff-bellied hummingbird.
This is possibly a buff-bellied hummingbird. | Source
A hummingbird having lunch on our geraniums.
A hummingbird having lunch on our geraniums. | Source
Source
Fawn-breasted brilliant hummingbird, taking care of the competition, taken in Ecuador.
Fawn-breasted brilliant hummingbird, taking care of the competition, taken in Ecuador. | Source
Female rufous hummingbird.  Now, that's a tongue!
Female rufous hummingbird. Now, that's a tongue! | Source
Lesser violet-ear hummingbird, taken in Ecuador.
Lesser violet-ear hummingbird, taken in Ecuador. | Source

Rufous Still Standing Guard in Our Backyard

This guy is a rufous hummingbird and he loves our backyard!
This guy is a rufous hummingbird and he loves our backyard! | Source

Questions & Answers

    © 2017 Mike and Dorothy McKenney

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      • Casey White profile imageAUTHOR

        Mike and Dorothy McKenney 

        2 months ago from United States

        We just moved and I have NO flowers now, but come spring I am going to remove my feeders as well. I tend to love to plant all the things the hummers and other birds love as well. Thanks for reading. I'm going to be replacing the photos with some new ones soon, so check back.

      • Dolores Monet profile image

        Dolores Monet 

        2 months ago from East Coast, United States

        I loved your beautiful pictures of hummingbirds. I've been seeing a female Ruby-throated hummer in my yard for the past several weeks. On one occasion, she was chasing a butterfly! The scene was quite comic as the hummingbird dive-bombed the butterfly.

        I have discontinued using a feeder. I found that the tiny birds are more attracted to flowers and that the feeder mostly drew ants!

      • Casey White profile imageAUTHOR

        Mike and Dorothy McKenney 

        14 months ago from United States

        They can be a little vicious at times, but they sure are fun to watch. Thanks for your comment, and thanks for reading our article.

      • The Dirt Farmer profile image

        Jill Spencer 

        14 months ago from United States

        Lovely photos and interesting article. I've seen three types of hummingbirds in our yard this year as well as hummingbird moths. They are fascinating to watch. Unfortunately, I'm not the photographer you are! Thanks for compiling these photos as well as sharing your own shots. Best, Jill

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