Species spotlight: four hummingbirds occasionally found in Michigan

By Annie Perry, MNA Intern

When Michigan residents hang their hummingbird feeders, the most common species they see is ruby-throated hummingbird. The ruby-throated hummingbird is the only regularly occurring hummingbird in Michigan, but four other species have been spotted in the state: rufous, broad-billed, green violet-ear and white-eared hummingbirds.

Anna’s hummingbird. Photo courtesy of Wikipedia Commons.

Anna’s hummingbirds are among the most common hummingbirds along the Pacific coast—but with their emerald feather and rose-pink throats, they are anything but the most common in appearance. Anna’s hummingbirds make a strong impression with their courtship displays: males will climb 130 feet into the air, then swoop to the ground, using their tail feathers to make a burst of noise. Anna’s hummingbirds are accidental in Michigan, which means they have been recorded in the state fewer than three times in the past decade. Two Anna’s hummingbirds were recorded in Michigan in 2010.

Female rufous hummingbird. Photo by Brendan Lally. Courtesy of Wikipedia Commons.

The rufous hummingbird has been called the “feistiest hummingbird in North America.” Normally found in California, the Pacific Northwest, Alaska and the Rocky Mountains, these tiny birds are relentless at flowers and feeders and will often attack even large hummingbirds that may double them in weight. Male rufous hummingbirds have bright orange backs and bellies and a vivid red throat, while females are mostly green with a spot of orange on the throat. The rufous hummingbird is the most common hummingbird in Michigan aside from the ruby-throated hummingbird, and has been recorded 20 times in the past 10 years. In the last decade, rufous hummingbirds were recorded in 2003, 2004, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011 and 2012.

Green violet-ear. Photo by Joseph C. Boone. Courtesy of Wikipedia Commons.

Green violet-ear are casual in Michigan, meaning they have been recorded more than three times but fewer than 30 times in the past decade, and were recorded in fewer than nine of the last 10 years. Green violet-ears have a green throat, chest, belly and back, with a violet ear-patch on the side of their necks. They are typically found in southern Mexico, Honduras, Costa Rica, western Panama, northern Venezuela, western Venezuela and western Bolivia, but have been recorded in Michigan seven times. Green violet-ears have been spotted in Michigan in 1996, 2002, 2008, 2009 and 2011.

White-eared hummingbird. Photo courtesy of Wikipedia Commons.

White-eared hummingbirds are green on their upperparts and breast and white on their undertail coverts. The most predominant feature on both males and females is the white eyestripe, which is more boldly colored for males. Males are more brightly-colored than females, with a turquoise-green throat and violet and black crown. The white-eared hummingbird is found from northern Mexico through New Mexico to Texas. It is accidental in Michigan and was recorded in 2005.

Broad-billed hummingbird. Photo by Dick Daniels. Courtesy of Wikipedia Commons.

Male broad-billed hummingbirds are strikingly colorful, with a green back, blue throat and green chest, and a long, red bill with a dark tip. Females have a dark ear-patch, gray underparts and a white line over the eye. The broad-billed hummingbird typically lives in southern Arizona and Mexico and has only been recorded in Michigan in 1996 and 2000.

Michigan residents will most likely see a ruby-throated hummingbird at their feeders this spring and summer, but if you spot another type of hummingbird, take a picture (if possible!) and submit a Rare Bird Report Form to the Michigan Audubon.

MNA has a series of videos of ruby-throated hummingbirds on our YouTube channel for a closer look at Michigan’s only regularly occurring hummingbird species. A DVD of those videos can be purchased on our website.

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One thought on “Species spotlight: four hummingbirds occasionally found in Michigan

  1. Great information just trying to figure out if ruby throat is male or female I have one fat one chasing everybody off two feeders… And it looks pregnant ?

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