If you live in Ohio and you love hummingbirds, you just might be in luck. The state boasts seven different species, though most of them are uncommon or downright rare. In some cases, only one or two individuals have ever been spotted in Ohio. Luckily, the most common Ohio species, the ruby-throated hummingbird, can be found across the state. Your best bet for attracting a hummingbird to your backyard is to know when each species is active and what plants they prefer.
1. Black-Chinned Hummingbird (Archilochus alexandri)
The first reported sighting of the black-chinned hummingbird in Ohio occurred as recently as 2020. This species’ typical territory lies in the western United States and Mexico, but individuals occasionally find their way into other states. In terms of habitat, it prefers semi-arid regions, mountains, river groves, and urban areas. Because this bird is so rare in Ohio, it’s difficult to predict where to spot one, though it may appear during the spring or fall if it loses its way while migrating.
Black-chinned hummingbirds enjoy feeding from a variety of brightly-colored, scented flowers on trees, herbs, and shrubs. These include desert ocotillo (Fouquieria splendens), scarlet larkspur (Delphinium cardinale), and tree tobacco (Nicotiana glauca). In general, they will feed on any nectar with high sugar content, drinking up to three times their body weight in nectar per day. They also flock to sugar water.
- Appearance (male): Black head, purple collar, mix of grey/white/light brown on body with faint green
- Appearance (female): Golden-green, brown-tipped wings, grey-white breast
- Length: 3.25 inches
- Wingspan: 4-5 inches
2. Ruby-Throated Hummingbird (Archilochus colubris)
The ruby-throated hummingbird is the most common species of hummingbird in Ohio. In spring, these birds migrate from Mexico and Central America to the eastern United States, often flying over the Gulf of Mexico without stopping. They typically arrive in April or May and leave sometime in September. Their preferred habitats include open woods, fields, and urban areas.
This species prefers to feed from tubular flowers like the trumpet creeper (Campsis radicans). Other favorites include the trumpet honeysuckle (Lonicera sempervirens), cardinal flower (Lobelia cardinalis), and scarlet beebalm (Monarda didyma). Sugar water is also a surefire way to attract it to backyard feeders.
- Appearance (male): Emerald green head and back, white belly, ruby-red throat
- Appearance (female): Emerald green head and back, white belly
- Length: 2.8 to 3.5 inches
- Wingspan: 3.1 to 4.3 inches
3. Anna’s Hummingbird (Calypte anna)
Anna’s hummingbird typically remains in a handful of western US states like Washington and California. However, it occasionally appears along Ohio’s western edge during the winter months. It prefers open woods, meadows, chaparral, and urban areas with parks and gardens.
Like many other hummingbirds, Anna’s hummingbird tends to choose red, tubular flowers with very sugary nectar. Some favorite flowers include desert willow (Chilopsis linearis), fuchsia flowered gooseberry (Ribes speciosum), red-hot-poker (Tritoma), California fuchsia (Zauschneria californica), hummingbird sage (Salvia spathacea), and eucalyptus.
- Appearance (male): Magenta head, greenish-grey body
- Appearance (female): Gold-green markings on sides and crown of head
- Length: 3.9 to 4.3 inches
- Wingspan: 4.7 inches
4. Mexican Violetear (Colibri thalassinus)
The Mexican violetear, also called the green violetear, typically does not leave its usual range in Mexico and Central America. However, it occasionally appears in Ohio in the spring and summer months. It tends to hang around forest clearings and edges, though it sometimes ventures into backyards.
This species prefers brightly-colored flowers and nectar with high sugar content. It gravitates toward flowers found on trees, shrubs, and epiphytes, including orchids and tillandsias. Like other hummingbirds, it seeks out tubular flowers because birds with shorter beaks may find it difficult to harvest the nectar.
- Appearance (male): Iridescent green plumage, bluish-green tail, violet spots on cheeks and breast
- Appearance (female): Similar coloration but duller
- Length: 3.8 to 4.7 inches
- Wingspan: 4.7 inches
5. Calliope Hummingbird (Selasphorus calliope)
Despite being the smallest bird in North America, the calliope hummingbird migrates to the Pacific Northwest all the way from Central America. Its range typically does not include Ohio, but there have been a couple of sightings in the state. One of them occurred in Delaware during the winter months. Because sightings are so rare, it is difficult to predict where or when the next one will be. This species gravitates toward bright, tubular flowers with sugar-rich nectar.
- Appearance (male): White and light brown body, magenta throat
- Appearance (female): Green and bronze back, peach-tinged breast
- Length: 2.8 to 3.9 inches
- Wingspan: 4.3 inches
6. Rufous Hummingbird (Selasphorus rufus)
The rufous hummingbird is an uncommon sight in Ohio, though lucky observers have sometimes spotted it during the fall and winter months. It frequents meadows, clearings, and urban areas with parks and gardens. Individuals often migrate over distances exceeding 3,000 miles.
This species is extremely territorial and aggressive, even for a hummingbird. It will drive off other hummers to protect what it sees as its feeding grounds. It tends to seek out red, tubular flowers with rich nectar. These include penstemon (Penstemon), red columbine (Aquilegia canadensis), paintbrush (Castilleja), scarlet sage (Salvia splendens), and gilia (Gilia).
- Appearance (male): Brilliant orange body, orange-red throat, white patch on upper breast, rufous crown
- Appearance (female): Green crown and back, white-speckled throat with orange patch, rusty patches
- Length: 3.5 inches
- Wingspan: 4.3 inches
7. Allen’s Hummingbird (Selasphorus sasin)
Similar in appearance to the rufous hummingbird, Allen’s hummingbird is a rare, accidental visitor to Ohio. Sightings are so rare that a pattern is difficult to establish. In terms of food sources, this species prefers red, tubular flowers with rich nectar. Common favorites include penstemon (Penstemon), red bush monkey-flower (Diplacus puniceus), red columbine (Aquilegia canadensis), paintbrush (Castilleja), scarlet sage (Salvia splendens), and tree tobacco (Nicotiana glauca).
- Appearance (male): Orange plumage with green back, orange-red throat
- Appearance (female): Mossy green back, rusty sides, speckled throat
- Length: 3 to 3.5 inches
- Wingspan: 4.3 inches
Summary of the 7 Types of Hummingbirds in Ohio
|#||Species||Active Months||Preferred Plants|
|1||Black-chinned hummingbird||Possibly spring or fall||Brightly-colored flowers with sugar-rich nectar (e.g., desert ocotillo, scarlet larkspur, tree tobacco)|
|2||Ruby-throated hummingbird||April to September||Tubular flowers (e.g., trumpet creeper, trumpet honeysuckle, cardinal flower, scarlet beebalm)|
|3||Anna’s hummingbird||Winter months||Desert willow, fuchsia flowered gooseberry, red-hot-poker, California fuchsia, hummingbird sage, eucalyptus|
|4||Mexican or green violetear||Spring and summer months||Brightly-colored flowers on trees, shrubs, and epiphytes (e.g., orchids and tillandsias)|
|5||Calliope hummingbird||Unknown (at least one sighting during the winter months)||Bright, tubular flowers with sugar-rich nectar|
|6||Rufous hummingbird||Fall and winter months||Red, tubular flowers (e.g., penstemon, red columbine, paintbrush, scarlet sage, gilia)|
|7||Allen’s hummingbird||Unknown||Red tubular flowers (e.g., penstemon, red bush monkey-flower, red columbine, paintbrush, scarlet sage, tree tobacco)|
The photo featured at the top of this post is © CounselorB/Shutterstock.com
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