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8 Types of Hummingbirds in Nebraska (With Pictures)

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male ruby-throated hummingbird perching on a tiny branch

Hummingbirds belong to the family Trochilidae, which contains 366 species in 112 genera worldwide.1 The Cornhusker State provides habitat for eight of these species. Some are regular visitors, whereas others are less common or accidental. Many are some of the most striking birds you’ll see. That’s particularly true for a place dominated by plains with a continental climate.

Nectar forms most of their diet, although some species also consume insects. Nectar offers an excellent food choice that is vital for a bird as active and with such a high metabolism as hummingbirds. Unless you see one at a feeder or foraging in a flower garden, you may miss a chance to admire their beauty.

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The 8 Hummingbirds Species in Nebraska

1. Ruby-throated Hummingbird (Archilochus colubris)

a ruby-throated hummingbird on a feeder
Photo Credit: GeorgiaLens, Pixabay
Nebraska Range Primarily migratory
Conservation Status Least concern

You’re more likely to see the Ruby-throated Hummingbird when it migrates through the state on its way to its wintering grounds in Central America. Some birds breed along Nebraska’s eastern border, making it a treat to see one. The distinguishing feature of this species is its red throat patch or gorget on the male. The backs of both sexes are green with dark-colored tails and wing feathers and a whitish underside.

This hummingbird is a tree nester that lives in open forests and fields. You’ll probably have regular visitors if you put out a nectar feeder. The International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN) lists the species as one of the least concern, with an estimated global population of 36 million hummingbirds.2 

2. Black-chinned Hummingbird (Archilochus alexandri)

black-chinned hummingbird perching on tiny branch
Photo Credit: AlexFeder, Shutterstock
Nebraska Range Primarily migratory
Conservation Status Least concern

The Black-chinned Hummingbird differs radically from our last entry. Its coloration is less bright, save for the male’s small purple gorget. While it doesn’t breed in Nebraska, you can see it in various habitats because of its adaptive nature, from backyards to plains. You can attract it to feeders, but red isn’t as much of a draw with this species as others of its ilk.

Its population is also increasing in North and Central America. The Black-chinned Hummingbird typically lives about 2.3 years.  However, researchers retrieved a banded bird in August 2008 in Texas that was alive at 11 years and 2 months.  We suspect the fact that it’s a generalist is a point in its favor when it comes to survival.

3. Anna’s Hummingbird (Calypte anna)

male anna's hummingbird perching on a branch
Photo Credit: Birdiegal, Shutterstock
Nebraska Range Primarily migratory
Conservation Status Least concern

It’s easy to mistake Anna’s Hummingbird for the Ruby-throated Hummingbird because of their similar coloration. However, the red on the former is pinkish and extends farther around its head. It’s a bird you’ll add to your life list if you’re lucky enough to spot it in Nebraska. According to the Nebraska Ornithologists’ Union (NOU), it’s only a casual visitor to the state.

Not a lot is known about this species. Data is lacking on the extent of its wintering range. Interestingly, gardening, particularly with exotic ornamental trees, has played a role in its expanding territory. It’ll also happily feed on sap or nectar from native varieties.

This hummingbird is not elusive in its habitat. You’re just as likely to see it at a feeder as any of the birds on our list.

4. Costa’s Hummingbird (Calypte costae)

costa's hummingbird
Image Credit: WikiImages, Pixabay
Nebraska Range Accidental
Conservation Status Least concern

The Costa’s Hummingbird is an infrequent visitor in Nebraska, although it has been confirmed with photo documentation. However, it prefers a warm climate, making the Great Plains a good choice to nest. Scientists don’t know a lot about its habitat or life history because of its preferred environment. More is known from sightings in Arizona and California.

The male has a purple gorget that extends around its neck and down its chest. Both sexes have a green back and white underside. The IUCN lists the species as one of least concern, with increasing numbers in recent years. If you spot one, the NOU asks that you document it, preferably with a photograph. Don’t forget to add this beautiful bird to your must-see birdwatching list, either.

5. Broad-billed Hummingbird (Cynanthus latirostris)

Broad-Billed Hummingbird
Image Credit: DV Pro Photo, Shutterstock
Nebraska Range Accidental
Conservation Status Stable

The Broad-billed Hummingbird is another rare sighting for the state, albeit documented with photos. It’s unusual, given that the bird’s range is southern California into Mexico. The IUCN considers it a stable species. However, its population in the wild is unknown. Scientists know that it prefers scrubland and forests where it nests and finds its food.

The bird is appropriately named for its relatively long calling card. It’s a colorful species, sporting turquoise, green, purple, and gray on its little body. Like other hummingbirds, this one gets around best by flying and hovering. Its small feet make walking awkward on land. Again, make sure to document it if you see one.

6. Calliope Hummingbird (Selasphorus calliope)

calliope hummingbird
Image Credit: Avia5, Pixabay
Nebraska Range Primarily migratory
Conservation Status Least concern

The Calliope Hummingbird has some of the most unusual plumage we’ve seen, making it easy to identify correctly if you happen upon one. The male has a white chest and a gray back. Its gorget extends from its neck in distinct purplish lines. It is also the smallest breeding avian species on the continent. Its size doesn’t interfere with its ability to survive in harsh climates.

Its summertime range includes the northwestern corner of the country. It’s a regular visitor to Nebraska during migration. The Calliope Hummingbird takes different routes for spring and fall, with the latter just over 900 miles shorter. We can understand why since it’s on its way to sunnier and warmer Central America.

7. Rufous Hummingbird (Selasphorus rufus)

rufous hummingbird close up
Image Credit: BlenderTimer, Pixabay
Nebraska Range Primarily migratory
Conservation Status Near threatened

The Rufous Hummingbird is another appropriately named bird and a stark contrast to the otherwise colorful birds in this family. The male’s gorget is only slightly darker than its plumage. However, its size, behavior, and appetite for nectar give it away. It’s a hardy bird with a breeding range that goes north into Canada and Alaska.

The Rufous Hummingbird is the only species on our list with decreasing numbers. Although the global population is 22 million, the IUCN lists it as near threatened. It’s a regular visitor to Nebraska, although it doesn’t breed here. They usually don’t stay long, so make sure to look out for them when they’re passing through the state.

8. Broad-tailed Hummingbird (Selasphorus platycercus)

Male broad tailed hummingbird
Image Credit: Kent Raney, Shutterstock
Nebraska Range Primarily migratory
Conservation Status Least concern

The Broad-tailed Hummingbird will likely remind you of the Black-chinned Hummingbird, only its gorget is less extensive. This bird is at home in the open woodlands of the mountains or plains. It’s well-adapted to these harsh climates and able to withstand cold temperatures by lowering its metabolism to conserve energy. Its behavior and foraging habits are similar to other species in its family.

The IUCN lists the species as one of least concern despite its decreasing numbers. An estimated 9.8 million birds live in North and Central America. The Broad-tailed Hummingbird is an adaptable bird. It will feed on nectar from plants that its cohorts don’t usually forage. It’ll also hover over vegetation to snatch up the stray insect or spider.

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Tips for Attracting Hummingbirds

Hummingbirds are frequent visitors at feeders as long as you keep them filled with nectar. Your biggest challenge will be the bees. The sweet liquid is a magnet for these pollinators. We suggest hanging your feeder in a shaded area. The bees are more likely to search for food in sunny places. You can also try switching its placement occasionally. The birds will figure it out, but the bees might not.

Hanging a fake wasp nest can deter bees and other stinging insects. They’ll avoid areas that appear occupied. If worse comes to worst, you can always dial back the sweetness to a ratio of 4:1 water to sugar. The hummingbirds can get their fill while the bees look for sweeter pastures.

hummingbird divider Conclusion

Nebraska is lucky to have eight hummingbird species visiting the state. While not all are common, you can still find places where you can catch a rare sighting. Make sure to keep an eye out for the more uncommon and accidental species when you go birdwatching. The male’s coloration and its pattern are critical for the correct identification.

Featured Image Credit: Brian Lasenby, Shutterstock

About the Author Chris Dinesen Rogers

Chris has been writing since 2009 on a variety of topics. Her motto with all of her writing is “science-based writing nurtured by education and critical thinking.” Chris specializes in science topics and has a special love for health and environmental topics, and animals of all shapes and sizes.