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Minnesota Hummingbirds: 5 Distinct "Hangtime" Birds To Watch


The Cornell Lab says the United States hosts about a dozen hummers in summer, and the Americas combined have about 350 hummingbird species.

How many have you seen so far?

You'd have to explore so many states as most have less than ten hummers. Take Minnesota, for instance. Only one species has a breeding range here. As we discuss it below, we'll also mention accidental Minnesota hummingbirds.

Hummingbirds In MN: Are There Any?

Hummers that love backyards in North America are the rufous, ruby-throated, Anna's, and the black chinned hummingbird. Let's find out if these species visit Minnesota.

1. Calliope Hummingbird

Calliope Hummingbird
Calliope Hummingbird

It's a rare hummingbird! Count yourself among the lucky birders in Minnesota when you see one.

The good thing is there are sightings of the calliope hummingbird in various eastern states, such as South Dakota. Its breeding range is on the northwestern edge of the United States. It migrates to this range in spring, along the Pacific Coast. This long-distance migrant then flies along the Rocky Mountains to winter in Mexico.

The best place to see a calliope hummingbird is in its breeding grounds, as it loves perching on the same bare branch every time. You may also see it in high elevations in the Rocky Mountains as it moves south in the fall. The wintering grounds have scrubs and pine-oak forests, so you can visit Mexico to see this and other species that love such habitats.

Since you wish to see it in Minnesota for now, wait for the sightings recorded by birders of Audubon Minnesota and take out your feeder. 

It's most likely going to visit between late November and December. 

You could also check out the hummingbird photo collection of renowned photographer Laura Erickson to see ID features to ID calliope hummingbirds.

When you see some colorful birds in your backyard, look for avians with magenta ray gorgets, greenish upperparts, and green vests. Those are male hummingbirds. The female calliopes have similar greenish backs, but their underbellies are peachy.

2. Ruby Throated Hummingbird

Ruby Throated Hummingbird
Ruby Throated Hummingbird

The ruby-throated hummer is the only one you'll see throughout the state every year. 

The male bird has an iridescent ruby-red throat, metallic green back, green crown, and a black mask that differentiates it from the broad tailed hummingbird. A female has a whitish throat.

Though it's a small bird, about three inches long, it guards its nests against any predator.

The hummingbird migration of the ruby-throated hummer ranges between medium and long distances. Its wintering grounds are in Central America, in countries like Costa Rica. 

Therefore, it flies from the breeding range in the eastern region of North America, as far as northern Minnesota and Canada, to Central America. However, some birds from the northernmost areas don't leave North America and winter along the Atlantic coast and Florida.

These MN hummingbirds are the only ones with a breeding range in the eastern states. 

That's why there are sightings in Minnesota. The first flocks arrive from Central America around May.

A female builds a nest on a slender branch in a deciduous forest, 10 to 40 feet off the ground. Most of this hummer's nests are on oak, birch, or poplar trees.

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources has a comprehensive map that shows ruby-throated hummers in different biomes. Therefore, you learn about these hummers while discovering biomes in this state, such as the broadleaf forest and prairie.

Talking about learning, maybe you should join other birders in the Audubon Minnesota chapters, so you can know when they see ruby-throated hummers in their backyards. Wouldn't that be fun?

3. Rufous Hummingbird

Rufous Hummingbird
Rufous Hummingbird

It's one of the accidental hummingbirds in MN, so you'll be among the luckiest birders in the state to spot even a handful of rufous hummers.

When can you see them? 

Well, most sightings fall between July and December. For instance, one rare sighting of a rufous hummingbird was at St Paul in November 2014

A resident found the hummer in the backyard after a snowstorm. 

We'd love to link you to that article, so read on, and we'll direct you to it later.

The rufous hummingbird is an accidental species because it has a breeding range in the northernmost part of the continent. It covers 4,000 miles from its breeding range in Alaska to wintering grounds in Mexico. The journey starts again in spring, along the Pacific Coast, to Alaska and Canada.

If you're lucky to see some during this migration, how will you tell it's a rufous hummer? Look for a bird with a red gorget and orange feathers on its back and underside. However, a female has a greenish back and rusty flanks.

This species loves nectar and insects, so consider these two foods when setting up a feeder. Nonetheless, you may want to have a separate feeder for other hummers as rufous hummers are aggressive; thus, other species can't eat there. It measures 2.8 to 3.5 inches long, so you'd need larger feeders to serve other birds.

The nest of a rufous hummer can be 30 feet from the ground. A female hummer starts building it in the first three days after flying to the breeding grounds. You'll find rufous nests on coniferous or deciduous trees like western red cedar and birch.

4. Annas Hummingbird

Annas Hummingbird
Annas Hummingbird

This species rarely migrates, and when it does, it moves in search of exotic flowers like currant, manzanita, eucalyptus.

It's a western bird, but there are sightings in some eastern states like North Dakota.

Sightings in Minnesota occur from late October to December. There's a resident population in states along the Pacific Northwest south, such as Washington, Oregon, and California. 

You'll see Anna's hummers in habitats like parks, open woodlands, savannahs, and coastal scrubs. One of the best places to search is in a forest with eucalyptus trees as they hunt insects in the forest's understory. They also like tree sap, so their diet isn't limited to insects.

The nesting site can be from six to 20 feet off the ground, and these hummers choose the location based on proximity to nectar. 

Like other birds, they have particular trees that make excellent nesting grounds. Consequently, you'll see a female Annas hummingbird building a nest on an oak or eucalyptus tree. The process is meticulous, weaving leaves, feathers, and spider webs into a small house that can fit a clutch of two eggs. 

5. Costas Hummingbird

Costas Hummingbird
Costas Hummingbird

This avian loves deserts. It's a native of the southwestern region of North America, with a resident population in California, Arizona, and Mexico. The breeding range is in neighboring states like Nevada. Sightings in the deserts of these regions are between February and June. 

It's around the same range as the magnificent hummingbird that others call the Rivolis hummingbird. Another hummer you'll find in a few of those states is the broad-billed hummingbird.

Sightings in Minnesota are in late fall. Is that a good birding time for you?

A Costas hummingbird consumes over 1800 flowers a day. It prefers ocotillo and chuparosa flowers. If you see such flowers when birding, you're likely to spot Costa's hummer there.

It's easy to differentiate it from other species as the male has an iridescent purple throat that extends to the neck resembling a mustache. A female has a grayish patch on the cheek, a white underside, and a greenish back.

Just Think About This: These cute avians never seem to lose steam. However, doesn't it strike you how and where do these hover-birds sleep?

Watch This!

Tips To Attract Hummingbirds Of Minnesota

MN hummingbirds will have you doing more than mounting a nectar feeder because there are many accidental species. They'll need more effort. Here's what to do:

Cultivate Native Plants

Hummers need nectar, and they prefer some flowers, such as the cardinal flower. You can also plant Liatris, red elderberry, and columbine.

Get a Hummingbird Feeder

Hummingbird nectar is easy to make at home using sugar and water. It uses a nectar feeder that can preserve it without evaporating. A platform feeder is out of the question. In addition to feeding hummingbirds regularly, clean the feeder to prevent contamination.

Avoid Pesticides

Pesticides may kill insects in your backyard, eliminating the source of proteins for hummers. You may also spray at spider webs and other nesting materials these birds use.

Add A Water Feature In Your Backyard

Hummers love splashing water in a fountain or birdbath. You can also add perches for birds that don't get space on the feeder.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the most common hummingbird in Minnesota?

Ruby-throated hummers are the most common type of hummingbird in Minnesota. Their breeding range is in the eastern states, so you'll see it in MN, New Hampshire, and South Dakota in the north to North Carolina and South Carolina in the southeast. All others, like the rufous hummer, are accidental sightings.

Do hummingbirds nest in Minnesota?

No. The ruby-throated hummer is the only one that nests in this state. With an interactive map, you can see recorded sightings and the places you should consider in your birding tour.

Where do hummingbirds go in winter?

Most species in North America fly to wintering grounds in Mexico and Central America. Even the ones in the northern areas like Alaska fly south.


You'll only see one hummer species in MN, and that's the ruby throated hummingbird. The others, such as calliope hummingbirds, are accidental avians, so there's no guarantee one will pop into your backyard feeder for nectar. 

But, we can't rule out nature's miracles since there are sightings of at least four accidental hummers. Don't you think that's a good number to see?

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