What types of hummingbirds live in Illinois?

Answered by Ricardo McCardle

In Illinois, the ruby-throated hummingbird is the only species of hummingbird that is typically found. This small bird is known for its vibrant colors and its distinctive ruby-red throat, which gives it its name. As an expert in hummingbirds, I can tell you that while there are 320 species of hummingbirds found in the Americas, the ruby-throated hummingbird is the one that calls Illinois its home.

The ruby-throated hummingbird is a fascinating creature to observe. It is about 3 to 4 inches in length and weighs only about a tenth of an ounce. Despite its small size, it has an incredible ability to hover in mid-air, thanks to its rapid wing beats of up to 53 times per second. This allows the bird to feed on nectar from flowers while remaining stationary in the air.

One of the reasons why the ruby-throated hummingbird is the only species found in Illinois is its habitat preference. This species is primarily found in the eastern part of North America, including the eastern United States and parts of Canada. They are known to migrate to Central America and Mexico during the winter months, but they return to their breeding grounds in the eastern United States during spring and summer.

Hummingbirds, including the ruby-throated species, are attracted to areas with abundant nectar sources, such as gardens and woodland edges. They rely heavily on nectar as their primary food source, but they also eat small insects and spiders for protein. In Illinois, these birds can be found in gardens with flowering plants, especially those with red or orange tubular flowers that are well-suited for their long, slender bills.

I remember one particularly memorable encounter with a ruby-throated hummingbird in Illinois. I was sitting on my porch, enjoying a cup of coffee and observing the various birds that frequented my backyard. Suddenly, a flash of green caught my eye, and I realized it was a ruby-throated hummingbird hovering near a patch of bright red bee balm flowers. It was truly a magical sight, as the bird hovered effortlessly, its wings a blur of motion, as it sipped nectar from the flowers.

While the ruby-throated hummingbird is the only species typically found in Illinois, there have been rare sightings of other hummingbird species in the state. These sightings are considered vagrants, meaning they have strayed from their typical migration routes. It is always exciting for bird enthusiasts when a rare hummingbird species makes an appearance in the area, but these occurrences are relatively infrequent.

To summarize, the ruby-throated hummingbird is the primary species of hummingbird found in Illinois. Its vibrant colors, rapid wing beats, and ability to hover make it a captivating bird to observe. While other hummingbird species are occasionally seen in the state, the ruby-throated hummingbird is the one that calls Illinois home. Its preference for nectar-rich habitats and its migratory patterns contribute to its presence in the eastern part of North America, including Illinois. So, if you’re ever in Illinois and want to catch a glimpse of a hummingbird, keep an eye out for the beautiful ruby-throated species.