8 Types of Hummingbirds in Tennessee

Hi there, in this article, I’ll be discussing the 8 types of hummingbirds that can be found in Tennessee.

These tiny and colorful birds are a delight to observe, and each species has unique characteristics that make it special.

So if you’re a bird enthusiast or simply curious about the different types of hummingbirds in Tennessee, keep reading to learn more!

Allen's HummingbirdAllen's Hummingbird
Calliope HummingbirdCalliope Hummingbird
Rufous HummingbirdRufous Hummingbird
Ruby-throated HummingbirdRuby-throated Hummingbird
Black-Chinned HummingbirdBlack-Chinned Hummingbird
Broad-tailed HummingbirdBroad-tailed Hummingbird
Anna's hummingbirdsAnna's hummingbirds
Green-violet-eared HummingbirdsGreen-violet-eared Hummingbirds

Types of Hummingbirds in Tennessee

Tennessee is home to eight species of migratory hummingbirds, with just two, the Rufous and the Ruby-throated, remaining all year long.

During the summer and spring months, unusual vagrants have been sighted in every region across Tennessee.

1. Allen’s Hummingbird

Allen's Hummingbird

The appearance of Allen’s Hummingbirds is similar to that of the Rufous Hummingbird.

Unlike the more aggressive Rufous birds, Allens seldom fly into a rage.

Male Allen’s Hummingbirds will initiate a combat if they see another male belonging to the same species entering their area.

The territorial hummingbird will fight any intruder, regardless of whether or whether the intruder is in search of food.

Allen’s hummingbird males have very long bills. There is a faint orange coloration on their necks, wings, tails, and eye spots.

The orange color of the females is somewhat more brownish.

They lack the distinctive orange coloring around their necks, too.

Mexico is home to Allen’s Hummingbird.

They go for California in January during the migratory season and may stop over in Tennessee.

The best time to find them is when they will most likely be out in the open.

Neither a mating nor a migratory stopover, Allen’s Hummingbirds don’t give Tennessee much thought.

Because of this, they are classified as a “rare” or “vagrant” species there.

The nectars of flowers are the primary source of nutrition for Allen’s Hummingbirds.

They could also eat flies and other tiny insects if they find some near flowers.

2. Calliope Hummingbird

Calliope Hummingbird

Finding a Calliope Hummingbird in Tennessee might be challenging.

Although these hummingbirds don’t nest in or migrate through the state, you could see them if you happen to be there during their transit.

The Calliope Hummingbird is the tiniest of America’s hummingbird species.

The male of this breed only weighs a little more than a cent as an adult.

Male Calliope Hummingbirds may be distinguished from females by their purple crowns and longer neck feathers.

It has a green back and a white underbelly.

The female Calliope Hummingbird does not have the distinctive purple neck plumage of the male.

Conversely, their neck is white and spotted with darker brown.

For some reason, Calliope Hummingbirds only like to set their nests in the northernmost states.

Their favored state of mating seems to be California.

When the weather becomes cold, they go towards the warm waters of the Gulf of Mexico.

The winter range of the Calliope hummingbird is somewhat small.

This leaves them susceptible to things like forest fires, natural catastrophes, and the destruction of their habitat.

They consume arachnids, nectars, and a variety of flying insects.

Despite their light build, they may be rather possessive of their territory.

Sometimes when red-tailed hawks come too near, a flock of Calliope hummingbirds would gang up on them.

A female Calliope Hummingbird lived to be eight years and ten months old, making her the longest-surviving member of its species.

3. Rufous Hummingbird

Rufous Hummingbird

Among the species of birds that are very close to extinction is the rufous hummingbird.

They are also infamous for being one of the most belligerent species of hummingbird.

Unprovoked, they will fight other birds belonging to the same species over food and territory.

The underbelly of a rufous hummingbird appears white, whereas the rest of its body is orange.

They catch flying insects and sip nectar with their short, black bills.

Males, but not females, have a dazzling orange/red covering on their necks.

The male has a distinctive rufous gorget, thus the name.

It is possible for rufous hummingbirds to survive in temperatures as cold as -4 degrees Fahrenheit.

Due to this, they are able to fly further northward compared to any other U.S. hummingbird.

The rufous hummingbird has a remarkable range, with almost 4,100 miles possible before it reaches Alaska.

From August through April, Rufous hummingbirds are common throughout Tennessee.

During the rest of the year, sightings of these birds in the state are very uncommon.

When threatened, rufous hummingbirds aggressively defend their food, consisting of nectars and insects.

Their aggression often leads them to kill chipmunks and squirrels who wander too near to their nest.

4. Ruby-throated Hummingbird

Ruby-throated Hummingbird

The Ruby-throated Hummingbird may be found naturally across Tennessee.

They are a year-round resident and are among the most frequent hummingbirds in the state.

The wing and back feathers of the ruby-throated hummingbird are a glossy green.

Nearer the wings, the hue changes from light brown to a rich chocolate brown.

These birds are green on top and possess a green head and a white underbelly.

This bird got its name because the males have a striking Ruby-colored throat.

Females don’t have the ruby hue in their throats and have leaner bodies overall.

The backs and tops of these hummingbirds have a vivid green color.

Their underbellies are whitish in color.

The males, on the other hand, flanks, have crimson necks.

When compared to males, females stand out due to their chestnuts and heads.

Between March and November, Tennessee is home to breeding populations of ruby-throated hummingbirds.

Some of them go south to Mexico when the weather becomes chilly.

Even though winter is a tough time to watch hummingbirds across Tennessee, you may still see a decent number of Ruby-throated hummingbirds.

The open woods is perfect for a nesting ruby-throated hummingbird.

The best areas to find these Rubies are in parks, orchards, and blooming back gardens.

Seeing a couple is quite uncommon.

The only time you’re likely to see more than one ruby-throated hummingbird is during mating season.

5. Black-Chinned Hummingbird

Black-Chinned Hummingbird
Credits: Wikipedia

Dr. Alexandre, a French biologist, is credited with discovering Black-Chinned Hummingbirds in Mexico.

They don’t stick around long enough to nest or migrate toward Tennessee.

They only infrequently travel through the state; thus, sightings are uncommon.

The wings and backs of Black-Chinned Hummingbirds have a dark gray hue.

The top of their heads is black, while the rest of them are white.

The male Black-Chinned bird is distinguished from the female by the presence of a purple, shiny ring beneath his neck.

Both the body and the somewhat curved bill are on the little side in size.

Birds that specialize in eating insects typically target them because of their small size.

Nesting near other nests of the same size helps them escape being preyed upon by larger birds.

That way, if a predator were to approach, they could utilize the bird gatherings to throw the animal off their scent.

You may expect to see Black-Chinned Hummingbirds anywhere there are flowers.

Although sightings of this species across Tennessee are uncommon, residents may boost their odds by putting out nectar feeders.

To get their fix of nectar, Black-Chinned Hummingbirds will settle for almost any blossom.

There is no need to be near a particular kind of flower to entice this bird.

6. Broad-tailed Hummingbird

Broad-tailed Hummingbird

Rarely could you catch sight of some broad-tailed hummingbirds across Tennessee.

Unfortunately, they neither reproduce nor inhabit the state, thus, sightings are quite uncommon.

Hummingbirds with broad tails live throughout southern Mexico.

It’s uncertain if they’re migrants or not.

Northern areas like Colorado, Wyoming, and Montana saw an influx of migratory ones between March and April.

The hummingbirds here have been stunning.

Iridescent greenish cover their backs, transitioning to brown as you approach their ends.

The male is easily recognizable because of his brilliant purple sheen and striking red coating.

Females, in contrast, don’t have a crimson neck as males do.

Both the bellies and the ring around the eyes are white, while the bills are short and black, and the tails are thick and wide.

Promiscuous males and females of the broad-tailed hummingbird do not form monogamous pairs.

They just come together to reproduce. Afterward when the females usually are left to rear the young on their own.

In many cases, breeding pairs of Broad-tailed hummingbirds may be found at elevations of 10,000 feet or above.

These birds can counteract the cold by slowing their pulse rates and lowering their body heat.

Broad-tailed hummingbird populations crashed in the 1990s.

But today, thankfully, their population is stabilized.

7. Anna’s Hummingbird

Anna Hummingbird

Anna’s hummingbirds are much more prevalent on the west coast; therefore, sightings across Tennessee are unusual.

The “Anna” in their name honors the Duchess of Rivoli, Anna Massena.

It is just Anna’s hummingbird across North America that possesses a red crown.

Green, magenta or grayish hummingbirds are all possible.

They are intermediate size birds with a greenish or grayish back, white underparts, and a purple throat that fades into black cheeks and beaks.

The accidental nature of the arrival of Anna’s hummingbird to South Carolina is the best way to describe it.

They are quite uncommon and often visit the state by accident.

Their most frequent distributions are the western coasts of Washington and California.

Anna’s hummingbirds are common in suburban gardens, suburban feeders, woodland, and savanna.

The majority of their diet consists of tiny insects, spiders, nectars, and tree sap.

Wasps and bees are common co-occurring insects in the feeding habitat of Anna’s hummingbirds.

These insects sometimes become stuck in the beak of hummingbirds by mistake.

The bird may perish as a result of this.

Some of Anna’s hummingbirds get the nutrients they need from sand and ashes. 

8. Green-violet-eared Hummingbird

Mexican Violetear
Credits – Wikipedia

The term “Green-violet-eared Hummingbirds” comes from the genus name “Thalassinus,” which is Latin for “violet.”

The Latin phrase literally translates to “the hue of the sea.”

The fact that Green-violet-eared Hummingbirds aren’t really native to Tennessee explains why you won’t often encounter them there.

Their travels take them to other states, such as Wisconsin and Michigan.

The green-violet ear hummingbird is a stunning creature.

Just like other hummingbirds, their feathers are green.

The crown, on the other hand, is a mashup of green and blue.

Blue or violet purple covers the throat and earlobes.

For this reason, we refer to them as “Violet Ears”.

The tips of the wings are covered with brown plumage that might seem purple under certain circumstances.

Due to their preference for high humidity, Green-violet-eared Hummingbirds often set their nests in the rain forest of Nicaragua and Mexico.

Hummingbirds thrive on the insects and nectar found in the forest. 

Although they are social during mating season, green-violet-eared hummingbirds are solitary nesters.


In conclusion, Tennessee is home to a diverse array of hummingbird species, each with its unique colors, behaviors, and habitats.

From the striking ruby-throated hummingbird to the rare and elusive rufous hummingbird, these tiny birds never cease to amaze and enchant us.

By understanding the different types of hummingbirds in Tennessee and the habitats they occupy, we can help protect these beautiful creatures and ensure that they continue to thrive in our state for generations to come.

So grab your binoculars and head out to your local park or backyard to catch a glimpse of these amazing birds in action!


When is the best time to see hummingbirds in Tennessee?

The best time to see hummingbirds in Tennessee is during their migration season, which typically occurs from mid-April to early October. However, the exact timing may vary depending on the species.

What do hummingbirds eat?

Hummingbirds primarily feed on nectar from flowers and flowering trees, as well as insects and spiders for protein.

How can I attract hummingbirds to my backyard in Tennessee?

You can attract hummingbirds to your backyard in Tennessee by providing a nectar feeder filled with a solution of four parts water to one part white granulated sugar, and by planting native flowers and trees that produce nectar.

Are hummingbirds endangered in Tennessee?

None of the hummingbird species found in Tennessee are currently listed as endangered or threatened, but habitat loss and climate change can impact their populations in the long term.

Can hummingbirds be kept as pets in Tennessee?

No, it is illegal to keep hummingbirds as pets in Tennessee or any other state, as they are protected under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act. It is also inhumane to keep them in captivity, as they require a specialized diet and environment to thrive.

Last Updated on April 12, 2023 by Lily Aldrin

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.