Hummingbirds in Your Backyard

Hummingbirds of Georgia

The vast majority of hummingbird species that occur in Georgia are only seen in winter. Many are immature birds or females, and many cannot be identified unless captured and closely examined. Little is known about their movements and the habitats they use in Georgia and elsewhere in the Southeast. With this in mind, reporting sightings of wintering hummingbirds can be extremely valuable. Chances are good that new species will be discovered in Georgia.

To report winter rare and unusual hummingbird sightings in Georgia, call (478) 994-1438 or write to: Georgia Department of Natural Resources, Wildlife Resources Division, Nongame Conservation Section, 116 Rum Creek Drive, Forsyth, GA 31029.

The following list includes details of hummingbirds that can be seen in Georgia. (Note: The number of sightings of different species may have changed since this information was compiled.) The Hummingbirds of Georgia fact sheet is available in PDF format (requires Adobe Acrobat).

Ruby-throated Hummingbird
Status in Georgia:
Rare in state past Oct. 31. Most wintering birds are found along the coast.

Size: 3¾ inches

Identification:
Adult male has a bright red throat (gorget) that appears black in poor light, an iridescent green back, white underparts and grayish-green sides. Adult female has a metallic green back, white throat and grayish-brown sides.

Breeding range:
Only hummingbird known to breed east of the Mississippi River. Breeds throughout the eastern United States as far west as eastern Texas and Oklahoma north to Minnesota.

Winter range:
South Florida, southern Mexico to Panama

Black-chinned Hummingbird
Status in Georgia:
Fewer than five reported in state each winter.

Size: 3¾ inches (slightly larger than the ruby-throated hummingbird)

Identification:
Adult male appears much like a ruby-throated male. Throat is black with a violet band along the lower edge of the gorget seen only in good light. Adult female appears much like a ruby-throated female.

Breeding range:
Breeds from southwestern British Columbia southward into western Mexico and as far east as Texas.

Winter range:
Mexico

Anna's Hummingbird
Status in Georgia:
Only three records for Georgia.

Size: 4 inches

Identification:
Adult male's head is a deep rose-red. Color will actually extend down the side of the neck. Underparts are grayish-green. Adult female often displays tiny red feathers that form a small reddish patch on the throat. Underparts are grayish-green.

Breeding range:
Washington, Oregon, California, Arizona

Winter range:
Pacific coast area from Washington to northwest Mexico and Arizona.

Broad-tailed Hummingbird
Status in Georgia:
A very rare winter visitor.

Size: 4 inches

Identification:
Adult male looks much like a ruby-throated male, with a green back, rose-red throat, white underparts and green sides. Adult female has a green back, streaked throat, white underparts and pale brown sides.

Breeding range:
East-central California and Nevada, north to Montana and Wyoming to very western Texas and Mexico.

Winter range:
Central Mexico southward

Magnificent Hummingbird
Status in Georgia:
Two birds documented in Georgia, one in summer.

Size: 5¼ inches (Georgia's largest hummingbird)

Identification:
Adult male is metallic bronze-green, with cinnamon rufous color in tail and purple crown. Adult female is duller with no purplish crown.

Breeding range:
Mountainous regions of southern Arizona and south-western New Mexico to Central America

Winter range:
Mexico southward

Broad-billed Hummingbird
Status in Georgia:
One bird has been documented in Georgia. An adult male overwintered in a backyard in Macon during the winter of 2001-2002.

Size: 4 inches

Identification:
Adult male displays brilliant emerald green feathers on his breast, sides, belly and back.  His gorget is sapphire blue. The bill is reddish-orange and black near the tip. The male's tail is deeply forked, dark blue with a grayish border. Adult female lacks the sapphire gorget and is  green to bronze-green on its underside with a pale throat. The female's bill is predominantly blackish with some orange near its base.

Breeding range:
The broad-billed hummingbird is a Mexican bird that ventures into the United States regularly only in southern Arizona and southwestern New Mexico. It is the most common hummingbird in the lowlands of northwestern Mexico.

Winter range:
Mexico (several birds have been seen in South Carolina, Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama)

Rufous Hummingbird
Status in Georgia:
Most common wintering hummingbird.

Size: 3¾ inches (slightly larger than ruby-throated hummingbird)

Identification:
Adult male has a reddish-brown back, rump, tail and sides with orange-red gorget. Adult female has a green back, light brown sides and reddish flecks in throat that form a central reddish spot. Tail has varying amounts of brownish color.

Breeding range:
Southern Alaska through Washington, Oregon, western Montana and northern Idaho.

Winter range:
Throughout much of Mexico

Allen's Hummingbird
Status in Georgia:
Less than a dozen records in Georgia.

Size:  3¾ inches (slightly larger than a ruby-throated hummingbird)

Identification:
Adult male has a green back, orange-red gorget, reddish-brown sides, rump and tail. Adult female cannot be safely separated from the female Rufous Hummingbird in the field. Female has reddish-brown color in the tail, greenish back, streaked throat and reddish-brown flanks.

Breeding range:
Coastal California

Winter range:
Mexico

Calliope Hummingbird
Status in Georgia:
At least one or two birds are reported each winter.

Size:  3¼ inches (smallest bird in northern North America)

Identification:
The male calliope is Georgia's only hummingbird with rosy purple gorget feathers that form streaks against a white background. Adult female has a metallic bronze-green back; its sides and flanks are cinnamon; the throat is dull, brownish-white with dusky streaks and the breast is cinnamon-buff.

Breeding range:
Mountains of central British Columbia and southwestern Alberta to northern Baha California.

Winter range:
Mexico

Green Violet-ear Hummingbird
Status in Georgia:
The only verified sighting was in Thomasville in July 2001.

Size: 4¾ inches

Identification:
Both male and female birds are dark in color, have a moderately down-curved bill, and are grass green above and below the body. Males have a violet-green central breast spot and ear patch.

Breeding range:
No breeding records in the United States. Breeds in Mexico south into Peru and Bolivia.

Winter range:
Similar to the breeding range.


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