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Hummingbirds aren’t common in Illinois, so it’s a rare treat when you’re able to spot one. These birds typically migrate through Illinois and appear seasonally. However, they can become regular visitors if you have an attractive garden filled with hummingbird-friendly flowers and feeding stations.
Here’s what you need to know about each type of hummingbird you can find in Illinois and how to increase your chances of seeing one.
|Scientific name:||Selasphorus sasin|
|Colors:||Brown, orange, white|
These tiny birds are extremely rare to find in Illinois. Along with their small size, many reside along the Pacific Coast and rarely venture towards Illinois during migration season.
Allen’s hummingbirds are known for their bright orange and copper feathers, and males have a beautiful iridescent neck plumage. Their natural habitats include canyons and mountains, but they also don’t shy away from suburban neighborhoods and may be spotted hovering around hummingbird feeders.
|Scientific name:||Calypte anna|
|Colors:||Gray, black, red, white|
Unlike most hummingbirds, Anna’s hummingbirds don’t have annual cross-country migrations. They mostly live in the West Coast, but their populations have spread further into the country, and some can be found in Illinois. They’re a hardy and flexible species that live in both wooded areas and suburban areas.
Anna’s hummingbirds are known to be chatty and sing frequently. Males use songs and impressive flight sequences to impress females during mating season. They can also make sounds with their tail feathers.
|Scientific name:||Archilochus alexandri|
|Colors:||Black, gray, white, purple|
Black-chinned hummingbirds rarely cross into Illinois, so it’s a special treat to spot one. They prefer living in places of low elevation and near streams. These hummingbirds spend summers in the western half of the US and will make their way down to Mexico for the winter.
At first glance, black-chinned hummingbirds appear to have black and white plumage. However, if you closely inspect a male, you’ll notice that their necks have a delicate and subtle iridescent purple marking.
|Scientific name:||Cynanthus latirostris|
|Colors:||Green, blue, brown, black, white|
Broad-billed hummingbirds are mostly found throughout the West Coast, particularly in Arizona and California. Their natural habitat includes canyons and places of high altitudes. Only a few groups will migrate towards Illinois, making them an extremely rare sight to see.
Male broad-billed hummingbirds have a beautiful emerald and sapphire plumage and bright red bill. During the breeding season, males will fly above females and swing back and forth to attract them.
These hummingbirds can drink almost twice their weight in nectar each day. They frequent bird feeders, so it’s possible to attract them to your garden if you happen to live in a region that they pass through.
|Scientific name:||Colibri thalassinus|
|Colors:||Blue, green, teal|
Mexican violetears have vibrant green plumage with even brighter patches of blue on their cheeks and chest. They can be found in tropical forests and prefer humid climates and high altitudes. They nest lower than most other hummingbird species, and males can be highly territorial.
These birds are powerful and resilient flyers and can reside in South America and migrate to Canada. While they’ll mostly fly through the west coast, some may stop by the western part of Illinois.
|Scientific name:||Archilochus colubris|
|Colors:||Green, red, brown, white|
The ruby-throated hummingbird is one of the more popular and well-known species of hummingbirds. Despite their small size, they have an impressive migration journey that begins in Canada and ends in Central America.
Ruby-throated hummingbirds tend to travel through the eastern half of the US, so they’re easier to find in Illinois. They’re mostly spotted in mid-spring through early fall. While they may perch while eating, they prefer hovering over flowers and drinking nectar. It’s also rare to see them walking because they have relatively short legs.
|Scientific name:||Selasphorus rufus|
|Colors:||Brown, white, green|
Rufous hummingbirds are a relatively common species of hummingbirds, but since they mostly live around the Gulf Coast and West Coast, it’s rare to see them in Illinois. However, they pass through, so you might see them sporadically throughout the year.
Despite their small size, Rufous hummingbirds can be quite brave and aggressive. They can be extremely territorial and are known to take on larger competitors and chase them away.
There are a few specific things you can do to increase the chances of seeing hummingbirds in your garden. Making these adjustments are worth it because hummingbirds have a good memory and are loyal customers. The chances of them revisiting annually increase significantly once they discover your garden.
Hummingbirds are attracted to red, so do your best to add more of this color to your garden. This includes planting red flowers and hanging red hummingbird feeders. You can also tie red ribbons around bushes and trees to catch their eye.
Hummingbirds like bright tubular flowers because most produce a high yield of nectar. The following are examples of hummingbird-friendly flowers:
Since most hummingbirds are so small, even small insects are competitors for food. Ants and bees can compete for nectar and can swarm hummingbird feeders filled with liquid food. So, try to find feeders that have an ant moat and are designed to prevent bees from accessing the nectar.
Many hummingbird species are competitive and territorial with each other. They aren’t known to share feeders and can fight over them. So, hanging multiple feeders in spread-out locations will reduce competition and welcome more hummingbirds into a garden.
While hummingbirds enjoy eating nectar, they also eat insects as a protein source. So, hanging a few insect-based bird feeders with hummingbird feeders in your garden can encourage them to visit and rely on your yard as a consistent food source.
Installing a simple bird bath or fountain can really make your garden stand out and be the perfect oasis for hummingbirds. Like feeders, you may want to add a few to your garden to reduce competition and territorial behavior.
Hummingbirds are tiny yet mighty contributors to ecosystems. They’re super pollinators and efficient pest controllers. So, while it may take some extra effort to create hummingbird-friendly gardens, it’s worth it. These birds will give back and work hard to enhance your garden’s natural ecosystem. They’re a rare yet valuable ally to gardens in the Midwest and will be a delightful guest that you’ll look forward to seeing every year.
Featured Image Credit: ArtTower, Pixabay
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Jessica is a freelance writer who spends most of her day researching and writing a number of topics. She loves sharing helpful information that people can use to better understand their pets, nature and the world around them. When she isn't writing, you may find her walking dogs, tending to her plant babies, or drinking her nth cup of coffee.
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