Hummingbirds are one of the most fascinating birds in the world, with their unique ability to hover mid-air and flap their wings at an astonishing rate of up to 80 times per second.
But did you know that New York is home to not one, not two, but four different types of hummingbirds?
These tiny, colorful birds are a wonder to behold and can be found throughout the state in the summer months.
In this article, we’ll take a closer look at the four species of hummingbirds that call New York home and explore what makes each one so special.
So, get ready to be amazed by the incredible world of hummingbirds in the Empire State!
Types of Hummingbirds in New York
1. Ruby-Throated Hummingbirds
Because of sexual dimorphism, the sexes of this hummingbird species have distinct physical characteristics.
Males are bright red at the neck and possess a greenish back and crest, whereas females seem greener on top and white on the bottom but have brown sides and crowns.
Being the only hummingbird bird that breeds across eastern North America, Ruby-Throated Hummingbirds spend the winter in Central America.
Migrants will split up, with some crossing the Gulf Coast and others going mostly around the Texas coast.
A ruby-throated hummingbird drinking nectar from a flower in the wild.
As early as the beginning of February, Ruby-throated Hummingbirds return to the United States from their southern wintering grounds, whereas they don’t arrive in Canada until May.
This type of hummingbird is notorious for its belligerence; it is very territorial and will aggressively defend its flowering sanctuaries from intruders.
It’s not only people who like dancing. The male Ruby-throated Hummingbird, like many other species, does a spectacular dance.
Males will form a U in the air in front of the chosen female and fly forth and back.
When he walks by her, he hisses at her.
Their ability to attract the female with their dance determines whether or not they will successfully mate and create a nest.
In order to protect its young from terrestrial predators, the nest is built high in a tree or thick bush, often as much as 51 feet from the ground.
The female builds the nest on a tiny limb that is concealed by a thick clump of foliage.
The nest is built in the shape of a little cup out of a variety of natural materials like spider webs, grasses, plumage, and branches.
Birds will occasionally use fabricated materials such as cigarette filters, cotton, and linen.
The female will build a nest, place two eggs in it, and then disguise it. After being fed by the mother for about 20 days, the babies will emerge from the nest.
The nectar of flowers, notably the Trumpet Vine, is the main source of nutrition for these birds.
However, the bird gets a lot of its protein from eating spiders and other tiny insects.
The birds use their long, flexible tongues to sip pollen and nectar from flowers, as well as to grab insects off shrub twigs, foliage, and tree bark.
On the IUCN’s red list, the Ruby-Throated Hummingbird is classified as “Least Concern (LC),” meaning that its survival is not in jeopardy.
This doesn’t imply that avians have it easy. Sadly, Ruby-throated Hummingbirds are a common casualty of window collisions, either meeting their untimely ends or becoming easy targets for predators when they fall to the ground.
The birds face serious danger from predators such as outside cats, which will consume their eggs and young.
Efforts have been undertaken to spread the word to cat owners about the damage their cats may do to birds.
The loss of suitable habitat is another major concern to these birds since shifting land uses may reduce the number of blooming plants from which they can consume.
Loss of natural habitat is a major problem, as is the case with many other wild creatures.
The decline of suitable habitats in the United States, where they breed, and Central America, where they spend the winter, makes it more difficult for the number to expand.
Best Places to Find Them in New York
In New York’s suburbs and smaller cities, you may often see a flock of Ruby-Throated Hummingbirds congregating in or near a flower garden or the border of a forest.
The height of summertime, when many flowers are in bloom, is prime time for spotting them; if you provide them with enough nectar sources, they may even venture inside your yard.
2. Anna’s Hummingbird
The Anna’s Hummingbird, so-called because it was discovered by the spouse of a French duke and ornithologist mostly in the 1700s, doesn’t really nest in New York.
Its latest confirmed appearance in New York was in 2017, and it is native to the Pacific coast states.
Their sexual dimorphism includes the male’s reddish-pink forehead, which is unique among North American hummingbirds, and also the female’s grey underparts and, frequently, a black spot in the middle of the neck.
A female Anna’s hummingbird perches on a branch to hunt for food.
Spotting one of these birds is an amazing experience, thanks to the male’s iridescent pink crest and gorget.
Due to its favorable climate range on the western coastline of the United States, they may start nesting as soon as the month of December.
Anna’s Hummingbird males, such as Ruby-throated Hummingbird males, have an unusual courting show designed to attract females.
He floats in the air while producing a buzzing noise, flies up high, and then dives directly for the female, all the while creating loud explosive popping noises as he nears the ground.
Once the female is content, mating and the subsequent nesting phase may begin.
The nesting location varies widely but is often a low-hanging limb of a shrub or tree.
While most nests are constructed at a height of around 20 feet, this may vary greatly depending on the surrounding environment.
The females construct the nests themselves, and each one is a little sphere woven from a spider web and plant fibers.
In certain cases, cigarette papers and plumage are also used to line the inside.
Anna’s Hummingbird plays a vital role as a pollinator in its native area.
As a result of 70 years of adaptation to non-native plants present in people’s gardens, Anna’s Hummingbirds are now an integral part of the food web for many west coast native vegetation species.
Anna’s hummingbirds consume a broad variety of foods, including sap, insects, and nectar, and are commonly regarded as the hummingbird species in North America that is most enthusiastic about eating insects.
Female incubating eggs might consume approximately 2,000 insects daily.
Anna’s Hummingbirds are not in danger of extinction; the International Union for the Conservation of Nature has classified them as “Least Concern (LC)” on its red endangered species list.
In spite of its western origins, this bird has been seen as far east as New York and Florida.
Although Anna’s Hummingbirds are threatened by habitat destruction, they appear to be resilient enough to survive.
Since the 1950s, the species’ mating range and population have increased dramatically owing to the increased popularity of gardens containing non-native flowering plant species.
Best Places to Find Them in New York
Even though sightings of these birds are very uncommon in the Big Apple, the chance may be on your side.
Look around the periphery of the woods and in brushy areas since these are prime hiding spots for the animals.
When springtime arrives, it’s important to maintain vigil around eucalyptus trees and manicured gardens, as well as any other places with a profusion of blooming flora.
Males may be heard singing loudly and can be seen perched on the highest branches of plants and trees.
Locating males may also be done by listening to their buzz. If you want to see Anna’s Hummingbird, your best bet is to go to Binghamton or Livingston manor, where sightings have occurred recently.
3. Rufous Hummingbird
The latest confirmed sighting of a Rufous Hummingbird in New York State occurred around Baldwinsville, which is close to Syracuse.
Some of these birds make the long journey from their nesting sites in Northwest Alaska towards their wintering habitats in the southern United States, often in the Gulf Coast and the states of Mexico.
With a 4.5-inch wingspan, this bird is among the longest-distance migrators compared to its size.
It may travel approximately 4,000 miles one round between its wintering and mating sites.
A Rufous Hummingbird perches on a sharp branch to better see the insects it is trying to capture.
The mature male displays sexual dimorphism once again by having a brilliant orange-red neckband or gorget in contrast to his brown cheeks, white chest, tail, and sides.
There are males with greenish plumage on the back and the head. Females, on the other hand, are characterized by a very black tail having white ends and brown ground, as well as a combination of white and green plumage on the head and chest.
The male and female of this hummingbird have their own distinct eating habits.
To get to their food, males have to fly shorter distances to their smaller, more highly blooming territory, whereas females have to fly longer distances to defend their larger, less densely flowering territory.
Evidence of this may be observed in the fact that males have smaller wings than females do.
The two will locate one another when it’s mating season, even if they’re foraging in separate places.
Identical to the courting dance of Anna’s Hummingbirds, the male will perform a steep dive directly towards the female while producing loud explosive popping noises at the conclusion of the dive.
He would also buzz back and forth right in front of the sitting female.
In contrast to most other North American hummingbirds, males of this species are known to mate with many females at once.
Females are the only ones that construct nests, and they often do so about 16 feet from the ground in the lower parts of deciduous bushes, conifer trees, or vines.
Hummingbird nests, like those of other species, are small cups woven from spider webs, moss, grasses, cigarette filters, plant down, and other soft materials, with a lichen- and moss-covered exterior for concealment.
It is possible that nests from prior years will be reused.
Red flowers, like scarlet sage, red columbines, penstemons, paintbrushes, and gilia, are the principal food source for these hummingbirds.
However, the bird also relies heavily on spiders and tiny insects as a source of protein.
The birds use their long, flexible tongues to sip pollen and nectar from blooms, as well as to grab insects off tree bark, foliage, and shrub twigs.
Hummingbird feeders, where curious humans leave out sugar-water combinations, are a vital component of their nutrition as well.
The Rufous Hummingbird exists as a solitary species on the IUCN red list, which is not classified as “Least Concern,” hence it’s status as “Near Threatened,” indicating that it is at risk of extinction.
Their need for insects over the winter led to their status being upgraded from “Least concern” to “Near Threatened” as recently as 2018.
Reduced insect numbers as a result of increased agricultural practices and pesticide usage will make it more challenging for the Rufous Hummingbird to obtain food throughout the winter.
Because of changing climate, the flowers that these birds need to reproduce are flowering two weeks sooner than they used to.
Because of this discrepancy, the Rufous Hummingbird may not get there in time to eat them.
And much like the Ruby-Throated Hummingbird, the chicks and eggs of these birds are fair game for pet cats and many other predators.
Best Places to Find Them in New York
The last time this bird was seen in New York was in 2021, so there’s a possibility you’ll see it sooner rather than later.
The best place to look for this bird is probably near Cortland since it is where there seems to be the greatest number of them.
For the most part, the birds are more numerous throughout the spring and summer months, although this varies from region to region.
Blooming plants and garden feeders are essential for the Rufous Hummingbird to survive throughout its migratory paths.
This is the greatest approach to seeing this majestic bird if you possess the time and are located along its migratory path.
But be careful; the bird is quite territorial and will probably drive away other birds, even hummingbirds. However, they won’t remain in one place for more than a week or two before moving on.
If you don’t have access to it, your best bet is to visit the lowlands in the springtime and look for it in forest margins, meadows, and fields with plenty of red flowers.
In the latter summertime and early autumn, they’ll migrate higher into the mountains, settling in meadows there before migrating south for the wintertime.
4. Calliope hummingbird
The Calliope hummingbird, the tiniest bird mostly in the United States, is a resident of the western United States and western Canada and very sometimes ventures east to New York.
In 2016, it was last observed in the Long Island community of Water Mill.
This species, like its close relative, the Rufous Hummingbird, travels enormous distances every year, traveling up to 2500 miles one way.
The Calliope Hummingbird, despite its little size, is well-suited to life in the high Rocky Mountains, where even the summer evenings may be very cold.
Male Calliope Hummingbird, beak sticky with nectar, perched on a branch.
The undersides of a Calliope hummingbird’s crest are white, while its back is covered with blank greenish plumage.
The gorget of an adult male is a deep crimson, his flanks are green, and his tail is almost black.
Females and young birds are distinguished from males by their black tails with white ends, washed-out sides, and pinkish and dark neck plumage.
The Calliope Hummingbird has been the tiniest bird mostly in the United States and the tiniest of the birds here.
It is also the timidest of the hummingbirds, preferring to remain hidden and silent when not reproducing.
The males, like those of many other bird species, will stake claim to their favored mating grounds and aggressively defend them from rival males.
The male Rufous Hummingbird mimics the behavior of Anna’s Hummingbird by flying low above the female and diving in front of her while making popping and buzzing noises.
In a particularly striking move, the male would spread his dark red gorget plumage ahead of the female to show them off.
Again, the female is responsible for building the nest, and she does so by selecting a location that blends in nicely with nearby pine trees or other conifer flora, as she does with the other hummingbirds on this list.
Because of the danger posed by ground-based predators, they construct their nests at great heights in the trees.
Old pine cones provide excellent insulation and concealment for the nest, which is especially useful for female birds due to their tiny size.
While nectar from flowers makes up the bulk of their food, these birds are also skilled predators that often grab insects in flight.
The Calliope Hummingbird is so little that it is sometimes chased away by larger birds, therefore, it is more common to observe them feeding on the ground near flowers like bee balm, western columbine, Anise hyssop, and golden currant.
Artificial feeders are, therefore, common among birds of this breed since they provide the birds with easy access to sugar, a nutrient that is essential to their survival.
Like other hummingbirds, the Rufous Hummingbird avoids the most crowded feeders.
On the International Union for the Conservation of Nature’s red list of threatened species, the Calliope Hummingbird is classified as “Least Concern (LC).”
Its species appears to be stable, and it continues to be found in a broad variety of places despite its modest size.
Being the tiniest bird species throughout the United States presents challenges in studying them, and most of their life cycle is still unknown.
This makes it hard to identify the specific risks facing this species.
Habitat loss and shifts in land use in their Mexican wintering area seem to be among the greatest challenges to the population expansion of this species.
Because the Calliope Hummingbird has such a restricted winter range compared to the other birds on the list, the recent loss of habitat in that area has had a devastating effect on the population.
Best Places to Find Them in New York
Throughout New York, this bird may be seen most easily in flowery fields under low-hanging willow or alder branches.
A favorite branch is where they like to rest and look for danger or prey.
Tiny and elusive, these birds may be located by listening for their distinctive calls during the mating season or by watching for a small bird plunging steeply.
It’s best to start your search in clearings and woodland margins near blooming plants like willow and alder.
Our hummingbird is more familiar with humans than the others on this list since it is often seen in urban areas along the Hudson River, such as Tarrytown and Yonkers.
In conclusion, the four types of hummingbirds found in New York are truly remarkable creatures, each with its unique traits and behaviors.
From the Ruby-throated hummingbird’s emerald feathers and acrobatic flight to the Rufous hummingbird’s impressive migration, these tiny birds pack a big punch.
Whether you’re a birdwatching enthusiast or simply appreciate the wonders of nature, observing hummingbirds in their natural habitat is an experience like no other.
So, next time you’re out and about in New York during the summer months, keep an eye out for these colorful, awe-inspiring creatures – you never know what kind of beauty you might discover.
What are the four types of hummingbirds found in New York?
The four types of hummingbirds found in New York are the Ruby-throated hummingbird, Rufous hummingbird, Calliope hummingbird, and Allen’s hummingbird.
When can I see hummingbirds in New York?
Hummingbirds are typically seen in New York during the summer months, between May and September.
How can I attract hummingbirds to my backyard in New York?
To attract hummingbirds to your backyard in New York, you can hang nectar feeders filled with a mixture of sugar and water, as well as plant flowers that are rich in nectar, such as bee balm, salvia, and cardinal flower.
Are hummingbirds endangered in New York?
No, hummingbirds are not considered endangered in New York. However, like all bird species, they are vulnerable to habitat loss and other environmental factors that can impact their populations.
Can I touch a hummingbird if I see one in New York?
It is not recommended to touch a hummingbird if you see one in New York or anywhere else. Hummingbirds are wild animals and should be observed from a distance to avoid disturbing them or causing harm. Additionally, it is illegal to capture or possess a wild bird without proper permits.
What is the smallest hummingbird species found in New York?
The Calliope hummingbird is the smallest hummingbird species found in New York, measuring only about 3 inches in length.
Last Updated on March 22, 2023 by Lily Aldrin