Discover When Hummingbirds Leave Alabama

Male and Female Ruby Throated Hummingbirds Hovering Near Mandevilla Blossoms
© Bonnie Taylor Barry/Shutterstock.com

Written by Megan Martin

Published: August 13, 2023

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There are only three different species of hummingbird native to Alabama, although there are nearly a dozen accidental species. Hummingbirds are migratory birds, and while you may be lucky to spot them in this state during some months of the year, they most likely aren’t there year-round. Below, discover the three species of hummingbirds in Alabama, as well as when they migrate and where they go. 

1. Ruby-Throated Hummingbird

The ruby-throated hummingbird (Archilochus colubris) is the most common type of hummingbird in Alabama. In fact, you could live in Alabama for most of your life and may only see this species compared to the other two. This is because it is far more widespread than the other hummingbirds on this list, which only reside in small, sparse areas throughout the state. 

Ruby-throated hummingbirds live in the deciduous woodlands across eastern North America, which includes Alabama. They are a common backyard species and can also be seen in old fields, orchards, and meadows. This species is easy to spot, with bright green backs and a red throat for which they are named. Only male ruby-throated hummingbirds sport this red throat. Females have a pale throat. The intensity of red can vary, with some males having a throat closer to black.

This species of hummingbird is a medium to long-distance migrant. There are no significant year-round populations. They spend their breeding months in Alabama. They typically lay their eggs in the months between March and May, and they will spend some time raising their young. As a result, they will often migrate and leave Alabama at the end of summer to travel to their winter grounds.

When the ruby-throated hummingbird leaves Alabama, it will migrate to the west. During this time, they can be spotted in the central United States and along the eastern and central regions of Mexico. Some individuals may migrate east, being spotted in Cuba. They winter in two main locations. A small population will winter along the southernmost coast of the Florida peninsula. The majority of ruby-throated hummingbirds, however, will settle along the southern coast of Mexico and in Central America for the winter.

Rocky Mountain Ruby-Throated Hummingbird sitting on a branch.

Ruby-throated hummingbirds migrate to eastern North America during the spring.

©CounselorB/Shutterstock.com

2. Rufous Hummingbird

The rufous hummingbird is a rare sight in Alabama. While they aren’t an accidental species, they are also not one that is widely abundant in the state. The few areas where they can be found are small, although they are more common in the coastal regions of Alabama.

Adult male rugous hummingbirds can look similar to ruby-throated hummingbirds. However, instead of a bright green back, they sport more copper tones. The red throat is similar in both species, though. Females have a bronze-green buff on their backs, with cream chests speckled with shades of orange along their flanks. They prefer open areas, although they may also choose to settle in forests and swamps on fewer occasions. 

Rufous hummingbirds winter in Alabama. As a result, they may appear in the early to late fall, and they will often leave prior to summer to migrate to their breeding grounds. In Alabama, you can expect most often to see them along the southern coast. However, there are small populations that may be seen in central or northern Alabama as well.

When they migrate, it is to travel towards their breeding grounds. As a result, they can often be seen in much of northern Mexico and the central and western regions of the United States. Their breeding region is far taller than it is wide, spanning from northern California into Canada all the way north to Alaska. They may breed as far east as Montana.

Rufous Hummingbird drinking nectar

Rufous hummingbirds are an uncommon sight in Alabama.

©Keneva Photography/Shutterstock.com

3. Black-Chinned Hummingbird

The black-chinned hummingbird isn’t nearly as common in the state of Alabama as the ruby-throated hummingbird. In fact, they aren’t even as common as the rare rufous hummingbird. If you were to spot one of these little hummingbirds in the state, it’s most likely because it was either blown off course by a storm or bad weather or because it became lost. Regardless, while the black-chinned hummingbird may not be a typical species that you spot in Alabama, there have been several sightings recorded.

The most common time for black-chinned hummingbirds to appear in Alabama is during the winter. This is when most reports are made. However, this isn’t common in the species. The black-chinned hummingbird winters in the southern region of Mexico. They are spotted during migration in the northern region of the country as well as in the western United States. They also breed in the western and central regions of the United States. Typically, you won’t find them further east than Texas, but reports do occur.

On the off chance that you may be able to spot this rare winter visitor in Alabama, you can recognize them by their black heads and the bright purple markings on their throats. 

Black-Chinned Hummingbird Searching for Nectar Among the Blue Flowers

Black-chinned hummingbirds are an accidental species in Alabama.

©rck_953/Shutterstock.com


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About the Author

Megan is a writer at A-Z Animals where her primary focus is birds, felines, and sharks. She has been researching and writing about animals for four years, and she holds a Bachelor of Arts in English with minors in biology and professional and technical writing from Wingate University, which she earned in 2022. A resident of North Carolina, Megan is an avid birdwatcher that enjoys spending time with her cats and exploring local zoological parks with her husband.

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