9 Types of Hummingbirds in British Columbia (BC)

Last Updated on December 16, 2022 by Lily Aldrin

British Columbia is a haven for birdwatchers, with a diverse array of species that can be found throughout the province.

One of the most beloved groups of birds in BC are the hummingbirds, with their tiny size, iridescent feathers, and distinctive high-pitched hum.

In this article, I will introduce you to 9 Types of Hummingbird species that can be found in British Columbia (BC).

From the shimmering green and red of the Rufous Hummingbird to the delicate pink and purple hues of the Calliope Hummingbird, these birds are sure to delight your senses and bring a touch of magic to your backyard.

Whether you are an experienced birder or just starting to explore the natural world around you, these hummingbirds are sure to captivate your attention and inspire a sense of wonder.

ImageName
Mexican VioletearMexican Violetear
Anna's HummingbirdAnna's Hummingbird
Black-chinned HummingbirdBlack-chinned Hummingbird
Calliope HummingbirdCalliope Hummingbird
Rufous HummingbirdRufous Hummingbird
Costa's HummingbirdCosta's Hummingbird
Rivoli's HummingbirdRivoli's Hummingbird
Broad-tailed HummingbirdBroad-tailed Hummingbird
Ruby-Red Throated HummingbirdRuby-Red Throated Hummingbird

Types of Hummingbirds in British Columbia (BC)

British Columbia is home to nine different species of hummingbird.

Four of these species are considered common on state checklists, five are considered uncommon or accidental, and one is considered close to extinction.

1. Mexican Violetear

Mexican Violetear
Credits – Wikipedia

The Mexican violetear is one of the provinces of British Columbia’s most elusive birds.

Even yet, the British Columbia Bird Records Committee has acknowledged them as legitimate because of confirmed sightings in the province.

The Mexican Violetear is a medium-sized hummingbird that is mostly metallic green but with violet spots on the sides of its head and breast.

While often found in the woods of Mexico, Central America, and even Nicaragua, Mexican Violetears have been seen as far south as the highlands of Bolivia and Venezuela.

Additionally, some Mexican Violetears that aren’t reproducing may migrate north into central and southern Texas in the United States.

2. Anna’s Hummingbird

Anna Hummingbird

Throughout the year, British Columbia is home to Anna’s Hummingbirds.

They are the most often seen hummingbird during the winter (as documented in 24% of checklists) and the second most common during the summer (15% of checklists).

There are little birds called Anna’s Hummingbirds, and they are mostly gray and green.

The male has a rosy sheen on his neck and head.

The female has a whitish neck and a reddish spotty throat.

Unlike other hummingbirds, Anna’s Hummingbirds do not migrate, making them the most frequent hummingbird near the Pacific Coast.

During the summer and winter, they may be found all the way from British Columbia to Baja and California.

Some avian species, however, may spend the winter months in the southern parts of their range.

Anna’s hummingbirds like yards and gardens with plenty of bright flowers and nectar feeders, although they also frequent savannah and scrub.

Anna’s Hummingbirds get their nutrition from a variety of sources, including tree sap, nectar, insects, and spiders of a suitable size.

Diplaucus bushes, Eucalyptus trees, Arctostaphylos bushes, Agaves, Nicotiana plants, Ribes bushes, Castilleja bushes, Silena bushes, and nectar-eating insects all produce nectar.

The nests of Anna’s Hummingbirds are built by the females alone, and they are located between 6 and 20 feet up in trees.

The females will typically raise two or three broods each year.

The males perform spectacular dive displays during courting, ascending as high as 130 feet before crashing to the earth with a squawk of their tail feathers.

3. Black-chinned Hummingbird

Black-chinned hummingbirds

Among summertime checklists in British Columbia, one percent will have a Black-chinned Hummingbird.

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From April to October, they are frequently seen in the province’s southern regions.

The undersides of Black-chinned Hummingbirds are a drab grayish-white, while their backs are a dull metallic green.

Both sexes have distinctive plumage, with males sporting a black neck with a thin glossy purple base and females sporting white feather tips and a paler neck.

In the western United States, from British Columbia to Baja California, black-chinned hummingbirds reproduce mostly in the interior during the summer months.

If they’ve finished mating, they could go towards the mountains, where there are more blooms, before making the long journey south to spend the winter.

Between most years, the Black-chinned Hummingbird makes its annual migration in March and September.

They can lick their tongues 13 to 18 times a second when feasting on nectar, and their diet also includes spiders and tiny insects.

Black-chinned Hummingbirds deposit two very little, white eggs (0.7 inches long) in nests woven together with spider silk and plant down (1.4 centimeters)

Black-chinned Hummingbirds frequently return to the same perch at the very top of dead trees, where they perched on small, bare limbs.

They populate rivers, canyons, and shady oak groves.

4. Calliope Hummingbird

Calliope Hummingbird

Calliope Hummingbirds are seen on 4% of summer checklists throughout British Columbia, making them the third most common hummingbird in the province.

From late March through late October, you may find them in the southern part of the province.

The Calliope hummingbird, America’s tiniest bird at the proportion of about a ping-pong ball, nonetheless manages to travel over 5,000 miles yearly from Canada to Mexico and then back.

When it is about to protect their area, they pack a powerful punch and have even been known to chase down Red-tailed Hawks.

Male Calliope Hummingbirds are easily identifiable by their shiny green sides and backs, vivid magenta throats (called gorgets), and black tails.

In contrast to the white undersides of males, females have a pinkish-white coloration.

During the spring, Calliope Hummingbirds fly north from their wintering grounds in Central America and Mexico to the Rocky Mountains with the Pacific Coast, the place where they breed across Colorado, California, and the other western states, Vancouver Island, Alberta, and British Columbia.

They start their journey in early February and may be seen all the way up to Canada by mid-May.

Migrants cross the Rocky Mountains en route to their wintering grounds in southern Mexico, and more lately, they have also been seen making the trip to the Gulf Coast in late August and early September.

Nests may be found on deleterious trees, and the birds have been known to either rebuild atop an existing nest or reuse the same tree.

5. Rufous Hummingbird

Rufous Hummingbird

Although they are a near-threatened bird, Rufous Hummingbirds are among the most often seen hummingbird across British Columbia throughout the summer.

During the months of March through October, the breeding season, they are often seen across the state.

But there are others who choose to spend the whole year in the province.

The male Rufous Hummingbird has an iridescent red neck in addition to its vivid orange stomach and back.

Females are creamy on the underside and have a greenish-brown back and sides.

The Rufous Hummingbird, despite its small size, is one of the longest-distance migratory birds, covering up to 4,000 miles on each leg of its journey.

They spend the summer breeding in the far north of Canada and Alaska and the winters in the Gulf Coast and Mexico. 

During the spring, Rufous Hummingbirds fly along the Pacific Coast, and in the autumn, they cross the Rocky Mountains.

It is common for Rufous Hummingbirds to begin their annual spring migration to Alaska around the middle of February.

The peak migration months for the autumn are July and August, and it lasts through October.

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Researchers have discovered that Rufous Hummingbirds are beginning their annual journey to the north sooner and venturing further inland.

Since the 1970s, the population of Rufous Hummingbirds has decreased by almost 60%.

Nectar from bright tubular flowers and small insects like flies, gnats, and midges make up the bulk of a Rufous Hummingbird’s diet.

To keep their nest together, they use fluffy plant down and spider webs. Small, white eggs of approximately 1.3 cm (0.5 in) in length are laid by these birds.

There, they thrive in the alpine meadows and evergreen woodlands.

They are quite hostile, driving away even bigger hummingbirds or permanent residents when they approach.

Even though they don’t stay around for very long, most other hummingbirds will avoid them if given the opportunity during migration.

6. Costa’s Hummingbird

Costa's Hummingbird

In the last decade, a few Costa’s Hummingbirds have been spotted in the southern part of British Columbia, close to Abbotsford and Vancouver.

These birds are thought to be accidental or rare in the area.

Typically found in arid regions, Costa’s Hummingbirds are easily recognizable by their iridescent purple throat spots and matching purple crowns.

They are green on the back and white with green markings on the belly.

The undersides of female Costa’s Hummingbirds seem to be more white than purple.

The native range of Costa’s Hummingbirds includes all of Mexico’s Baja California peninsula, all of Southern California, and a small portion of southwestern Arizona.

During the winter, they can be found along the Pacific coastline of Mexico.

At the same time, in the spring, they head north to the states of southern Utah, southern Nevada, northern California, and Arizona in order to breed.

Costa’s Hummingbirds can be found in various types of vegetation, including desert scrub, chaparral, and deciduous forest.

They build their nests in bushes about 3 to 7 feet from the ground and might produce two broods a year.

7. Rivoli’s Hummingbird

Rivoli's Hummingbird
Credits – Wikipedia

Hummingbirds of the species Rivoli’s are declared an invasive alien species in British Columbia.

In 2017, they were only seen in Chilliwack, making them exceedingly uncommon in the state.

In addition to the more common iridescent throat of males, which is lime green, Rivoli’s Hummingbirds stand out from the crowd with their iridescent purple crown.

Males have a deep green color, while females are green on top and have a bluish-gray underside.

Even though Rivoli’s Hummingbirds are native to Mexico and Central America, you may see one in southern Arizona, southwestern Texas, or New Mexico during its seasonal migrations.

Its natural habitat is a pine-oak woodland in the mountains, although you could also see it at a feeder if you’re lucky.

They often roost on treetops.

8. Broad-tailed Hummingbird

Broad-tailed Hummingbird

In British Columbia, Broad-tailed Hummingbirds have established themselves as purely accidental species.

They are almost unheard of, with the last confirmed sighting being near Fort Steele all the way back in 1992.

Broad-tailed Hummingbirds may be identified by their iridescent green backs, white bellies and chests, brown wings, and their preference for life at higher altitudes.

Females and young birds have green patches on their necks and cheeks, while males’ throats are iridescent roses.

Between the middle of May and August, Broad-tailed Hummingbirds might well be found breeding in open forests and high meadows between 5,000 and 10,000 feet in elevation across the mountainous west, from southern Montana and central Idaho to southern California and northern Wyoming.

Nevertheless, most broad-tailed hummingbirds migrate to southern Mexico for the winter, and a small number may choose to overwinter in the Gulf Coast region.

The Broad-tailed Hummingbird migrates twice a year, once in April and once in late August/early September.

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The Broad-tailed Hummingbird, when faced with the extreme cold of higher altitudes, may reduce its metabolic rate and enter a condition of torpor.

Hummingbirds typically subsist on flower nectar; you may see Broad-tailed Hummingbirds at hummingbird feeders and around crimson columbine, larkspur, scarlet gilia, and sage.

They use insects as a food source, both for themselves and their babies.

Nests of the broad-tailed hummingbird are constructed of gossamer and spider webs and placed beneath the eaves of trees for extra warmth on chilly evenings.

9. Ruby-Red Throated Hummingbird

Ruby-throated Hummingbird

There have been a few reported sightings of ruby-throated hummingbirds in the Peace River area of British Columbia during 2021, although these birds are not native to the region.

The male Ruby-throated Hummingbird has a dazzling scarlet throat and a vivid green back and crown.

Female Ruby-throated Hummingbirds have brownish wings and crests and a greenback.

Just one species of hummingbird, the Ruby-throated Hummingbird, breeds across eastern North America.

Following this, they go even farther south, ultimately settling throughout Central America for the winter.

For their journey, some cross the Gulf of Mexico, while others go around the coast of Texas.

The first of the ruby-throated hummingbirds to come into North America typically do so in February, but they might not reach the northern states and Canada until May.

During the spring, males can show up as much as two weeks well before females.

During the months of August and September, Ruby-throated Hummingbirds begin their annual migration south, congregating along the Texas Gulf Coast in September before continuing on to their wintering grounds.

These little birds dart from one flower to the next in search of nectar, and they also hunt insects in flight or by perching on spider webs.

Due to their tiny legs, they could only shuffle across a ledge, stopping every so often to rest on a twig.

During the summer, look for them in flower beds or along the margins of woods.

Even in urban areas, you may see them often at nectar feeders.

Male Ruby-throated Hummingbirds often fight over territory while protecting their nectar sources.

During mating, males may leave the area as early as the first week of August.

Female ruby-throated thrushes construct their nests from fine branches using a combination of thistle and dandelion down and spider silk.

The eggs they deposit are little around 0.6 inches in diameter, and there are only one to three of them (1.4 cm).

Conclusion

This is a comprehensive guide to the several hummingbird species that may be found year-round in the province of British Columbia.

As a group, hummingbirds may be difficult to identify due to their speed and size, but the above facts should help.

Get some fresh air and see the outdoors; you may be lucky enough to see a rare hummingbird or other wildlife.

FAQ

Exactly which hummingbird doesn't leave British Columbia?

Anna’s Hummingbird is the only hummingbird species that spend the winter in the Vancouver area. Due to our mild weather and our ample supply of gardens, greenery, and feeders, we have seen this larger hummingbird remain in southwestern British Columbia.

Do non-hummingbirds look like hummingbirds?

The hummingbird moth is among the most beautiful species of insect you may see in your garden. Several species of Hemaris have earned the right to be called by this name. In both flight and motion, they resemble hummingbirds.

How often and when should individuals feed hummingbirds in British Columbia?

The best time to put out feeders for the first birds to arrive is in the middle of April. If you want to attract hummingbirds year-round, you should provide them with a nectar solution made from a 4:1 water-to-sugar ratio. It’s not advised to use honey or any other sweetener, and you shouldn’t add any kind of food coloring, either.

About Lily Aldrin

I am Lily Aldrin. I attended Cornell University, where I obtained my degree to become an Ornithologist so I could pursue my love of these magnificent creatures in and out of their natural habitats.