Since you’re an impassioned birder, you know the thrill of seeing a colorful creature in flight! Hummingbirds are the tiniest birds worldwide, able to fly backward and in figure-eight patterns.
Meanwhile, their wings flap busily, roughly 50 times per second. This whirring movement produces the humming sound for which they’re named.
All told, there are 17 species of hummingbirds in Texas, driven by a hearty appetite for flower nectar. Of those, eight breeds are the “hummers” you’ll see most.
8 common hummingbirds in Texas including:
- Rufous Hummingbird
- Blue-throated Mountain-gem
- Black-chinned Hummingbird
- Ruby-throated Hummingbird
- Calliope Hummingbird
- Buff-bellied Hummingbird
- Anna’s Hummingbird
- Broad-tailed Hummingbird
In this blog, you’ll learn how to spot them, rousing your delight!
This species is among the frequent hummingbirds in Houston.
Rufous types are quite territorial, chasing their fellow hummers from flowers and feeders. You’ll find their dynamics comical! Chattering loudly, they scold other birds while flaring their feathers and tails.
- Male – His “gorget,” the brilliant plumage at his throat, is a blazing orange. Moreover, his glorious back feathers repeat the color theme.
- Female – She wears an orange blush on her breast and spots of green on her back, fringed with orange tail feathers.
- Season – Rufous hummers migrate through Texas annually, vacationing there in July and August. You’ll see them flitting through woodlands and sipping from garden blooms.
Formerly dubbed the “blue-throated hummingbird,” this species favors mountain forests and backyard feeders. A popular breeding spot is Big Bend National Park.
- Male – Tucked beneath his beak is a striking gorget of sapphire blue. Two white stripes frame each eye.
- Female – Her head bears the same white markings, but her wings and back are tinged with teal green.
- Season – March through October. Avoiding mid-day heat, they feed in the morning and late afternoon.
Unlike many hummers, the black-chinned ones don’t sing. Instead, they issue rapid, high-pitched cheeps, captured in this video clip.
You’ll see black-chinned types of hummingbirds in Texas parks, gardens, and mountain meadows, preferring shaded areas. They breed in the western and central parts of the state.
- Male – Aside from the black chin, his most notable feature is a purple collar, gleaming when it catches light. Behind his eye is a white arc, and his tail has prominent forking.
- Female – Her distinguishing traits are green-tinged back plumage and white-tipped tail feathers.
- Season – Among the common hummingbirds in Austin, the black-chinned lives there from March through August.
This breed has an enormous appetite! Due to its busy activity and quick metabolism, the bird consumes five to eight meals each hour.
Meanwhile, the heart of a ruby-throated hummer pulsates 500 to 1,200 times per minute!
You can lure these beauties with red morning glory, cardinal flowers, and honeysuckle vines. Or install a red feeder, filling it with this recipe for homemade nectar.
- Male – A crimson gorget shimmers at his throat, abutting his black chin. Meanwhile, bright aqua feathers glow on his crown and back, culminating in a forked tail.
- Female – Faint green streaks embellish her white breast, and her rounded tail has a central notch. Surprisingly, her turquoise back feathers rival the male, unusual for female hummingbirds.
- Season – Ruby-throated hummers arrive in Texas in February, lingering until September.
This petite hummer has the weight of a ping-pong ball. Nonetheless, the species is brave, known to chase other birds the size of red-tailed hawks!
Calliope males also engage females with dramatic U-shaped dives. If a guy impresses his chosen gal, they dance together in the air, sometimes clasping beaks.
- Male – His showy gorget is embossed with purple-violet streaks. Meanwhile, the teal feathers on his back glimmer in the sunlight.
- Female – Dressed in lighter green feathers, her neck is pinkish-white.
- Season – The Calliope is a common hummingbird Texas resident during most months except June. For the best places to spot Calliopes, head to Big Bend National Park and the El Paso region.
You’ll only find this species in the southeastern and southern Texas regions, such as those of Houston and Corpus Christi. Common hangouts of buff-bellied hummers are shaded brushlands, riverbanks, and residential gardens.
- Male – He’ll dazzle you with his teal gorget, fronting his beige abdomen. Equally striking are his orange beak and turquoise wing feathers.
- Female – She has the same beige belly, but the rest of her body is dark gray.
- Season – Buff-bellied hummers nest and raise their broods from April through August. Mama lays just two white eggs at a time, possibly breeding twice a year.
As winter approaches, most hummers leave Texas for warmer climates. Yet, Anna’s hummingbirds tend to stay behind, enthralling avid birders like yourself.
Here you can see the dating moves of a male Anna’s hummer. At the end of each dive, listen for a whistling sound, created by his tail feathers!
Anna’s hummingbirds are often sighted near blooming Eucalyptus trees. Also, look for them in Texas parks and public flower gardens. During winter, the birds rely on feeders for sustenance.
- Male – You’ll be awed by his iridescent pink gorget, covering his entire head! Emerald-green feathers complete his jeweled garb.
- Female – Unlike other lady hummers, Anna’s wears a smattering of pink at her throat. Meanwhile, her green back feathers glint in the sunlight.
- Season – Year-round, except for April through June.
This type has a wider tail span than most hummingbird breeds, accounting for its name. When broad-tails fly, their wings produce a distinct cricket-like sound, demonstrated here.
The favorite nectars of broad-tailed hummers are those of blooming sage, red columbine, scarlet gilia, and larkspur. Still, the birds also visit feeders, as seen in the previous video clip.
The birding community has several delightful names for a hummingbird flock! Pick from these terms — a bouquet, shimmer, glittering, or a tune of hummers.
- Male – He displays a fire-engine red gorget and a turquoise feather cap. Metallic teal plumage highlights his back.
- Female – Spots of teal paint her throat and cheeks. Her blue-green body is a paler version of the male’s.
- Season – Broad-tailed hummingbirds occupy Texas from late May through October. Birders report the most sightings in August.
Note that male ruby-throated and broad-tailed hummers each have scarlet gorgets. Even so, you can tell the species apart, best done with your binoculars.
- First, focus on the tail of the bird in question. A forked tail indicates a ruby-throated, while a rounded one distinguishes the broad-tailed.
- Next, look at the chin color, white on a broad-tailed and black on the ruby-throated.
- Then, when the bird is flying, do you hear cricket-like trills? In that case, the hummer is likely a broad-tailed, issuing the curious sound from its wings.
Feeding Hummingbirds – Q & A
Are you a Texas resident? If so, here are answers to questions you likely have about luring hummers to your yard.
When should I hang my feeder?
Generally, hummingbird season in Texas runs from March through October. Still, it’s best to install your feeder on February 1st.
This way, you can hail migrating black-chinned hummers, followed by the ruby-throated. If you see Anna’s hummers at your feeder, keep it up year-round, ensuring a winter food source.
How often should I change my feeder nectar?
It depends on your outdoor temperature. When it’s 60 degrees F or lower, change the solution every three days.
However, when the temperature spikes to 90 degrees or higher, you should provide fresh nectar daily. Otherwise, it will spoil.
Also, be sure to clean the dispenser every three days. This frequency will banish mold, which can sicken hummingbirds or cause their death.
Why aren’t hummingbirds visiting my feeder?
There are several possible reasons for this.
First, gauge whether anything obstructs your feeder. Hummingbirds need ample space to hover near the dispenser, at least 6 inches from all angles.
Next, consider the noise level in the vicinity. Hummers get spooked by loud noises, such as barking dogs, shouting kids, and blaring music.
Or perhaps the sugar water has little appeal. For an ideal mixture, refer to the recipe above under the section for the ruby-throated hummingbird.
Another factor affecting your hummingbird numbers could be feeder design. Assess yours from a hungry bird’s point of view, looking for dull or scary features.
Then, if your feeders need replacing, check out these colorful, hummer-friendly models. The birds find them irresistible!
Also, surround each device with bright blooming plants like the exquisite ones shown here. For further enticement, add a water source, such as a lawn sprinkler or birdbath.
When you extend a sweet welcome, a shimmer of hummers will flock to your place!