Dorothy is a master gardener, former newspaper reporter, and the author of several books. Michael is a landscape and nature photographer.
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:
- Rufous (Selasphorus rufus)
- Rufous sabre-wing (Campylopterus rufus)
- Rufous-breasted hermit (Glaucis hirsuta)
- Rufous-breasted sabre-wing (Campylopterus hyperythrus)
- Rufous-capped thornbill (Chalcostigma ruficeps)
- Rufous-cheeked (Goethalsia bella)
- Rufous-crested coquette (Lophornis delattrei)
- Rufous-Shafted Woodstar (Chaetocercus jourdanii)
- Rufous-Tailed (Amazilia tzacatl)
- Rufous-Throated Sapphire (Hylocharis sapphirina)
- Rufous-Vented Whitetip (Urosticte ruficrissa)
- Rufous-Webbed Brilliant (Heliodoxa branickii)
Male rufous hummingbirds have bright feathers to attract females, as do most 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.
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 the 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, behavior and territory. A great article on The Spruce that will show you how.
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 allows 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.
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:
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:
- Bee balm
- Cardinal flower
- Butterfly bush
- Bleeding hearts
- Trumpet creeper
- Columbine flowers
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
© 2017 Mike and Dorothy McKenney
Mike and Dorothy McKenney (author) from United States on August 06, 2018:
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 from East Coast, United States on August 06, 2018:
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!
Mike and Dorothy McKenney (author) from United States on August 04, 2017:
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.
Jill Spencer from United States on August 04, 2017:
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