The Beauty of Hummingbirds in Virginia [ID & Pictures]

Hummingbirds in Virginia 

Hummingbirds are flying jewels that make any garden or backyard come to life. There are over 330 species of hummingbirds worldwide, and Virginia has its fair share. 

This article will educate you about Hummingbirds in Virginia, their habitats, behaviors, feeding, fun facts, and more! Read on to discover more!

1. Ruby-throated Hummingbird

Ruby-throated Hummingbird

Ruby-throated hummingbirds are the most common of the eight species that inhabit parts of Virginia. It measures about 3 to 4 inches in length with a wingspan of 3 to 4 inches.

The ruby-throated hummingbird’s favorite food is nectar from flowers, but they also eat small insects to get protein for building their muscles and body feathers.

You’ll mostly find them at heights less than 10 feet above ground level, typically in gardens, woodlands, or orchards. You can find their nests on branches or vines.

Fun Facts

  • You can hear the beats of the hummingbird’s wings, which make a gentle humming sound—hence its name.
  • They nest close to each other and share resources when breeding.
  • Males have pointed tail feathers, but females have rounded tail feathers. Males have ruby-red throats, while females have white throats with a unique red feather.

2. Rivoli’s Hummingbird

Rivoli’s Hummingbird

Rivoli’s Hummingbird is a medium-sized hummingbird, about 4.3 to 5.5 inches long, with a wingspan of about 6 to 7 inches.

This little beauty is also known as Eugenes Fulgens by birdwatchers, and you can find them throughout Virginia and the North or Eastern half of the US.

The hummingbird can feed on nectar from flowers, spiders, small insects, fruit, tree sap, and wood which they chew with their sharp beaks.

They prefer living in deciduous forests or mixed forests near water sources and build nests high above the ground on trees like oak, pine, and cedar trees.

Fun Facts

  • Females lay two eggs at a time, and both parents take care of feeding the chicks until they become independent about two weeks after hatching.
  • Their scientific name comes from the Latin word “fulgur,” meaning lightning flash, which refers to the bright colors on their feathers. 
  • You can likely see one flying low to the ground, looking for food!

3. Rufous Hummingbird

Rufous Hummingbird

The Rufous Hummingbird is the most common hummingbird native to North America. It’s about 3 inches long with a wingspan of 4 inches. 

It has a long bill that tapers to a point and generally eats nectar (from cactus plants, tulip trees, or mesquite trees), tree sap, worms, and small insects caught in mid-air.

Their preferred habitat includes forests, scrub forests, and open country near woodland edges and clearings.

Fun Facts

  • Adult males usually stay close to their territory year-round, while adult females often remain within a habitat during the breeding season.
  • Males and Females share nesting duties; however, females usually do the nest building using soft plants held with spider webs.
  • Their primary predators include cats, raccoons, house sparrows, red squirrels, hawks, herons, coyotes, and opossums.

4. Calliope Hummingbird

Calliope Hummingbird

The Calliope hummingbird is the smallest among hummingbird species, growing up to 3 inches long with a wingspan of 1.5 to 1.6 inches. 

Their beaks are straight and slender with a slight curve at the tip, which they use to drink nectar from flowers, making them important pollinators

The calliope has a diet primarily of insects, pollen, and nectar. You can often spot them on spiders’ webs catching tiny spiders.

Nest sites include tree holes, abandoned woodpecker holes, and similar cavities, such as crevices between boulders or buildings.

Fun Facts

  • These tiny birds were named after the Greek word Kalliope, meaning beautiful voice; this refers to the melodious songs that males sing during courtship.
  • They also have a very fast wingbeat that creates almost no sound.
  • The nest is made of spider webbing mixed with plant down, mosses, and lichens for insulation.
  • These birds have difficulty hearing making them rapidly move their head around when looking for food or danger.

5. Anna’s Hummingbird

Anna’s Hummingbird

These medium-sized hummingbirds are the most common in North America, especially in Virginia. They’re 3.9 inches in length and 4.7 inches in wingspan.

You can find this bird in urban and rural areas, preferably nesting under bridges, porch eaves, or other sheltered areas close to a nectar source. 

You can observe them feeding on insects, tree sap, nectar from flowers, and hummingbird feeders

They take advantage of plants that produce red tubular flowers, including columbine, honeysuckle, fireweed, red raspberry, and cardinal flower.

Fun Facts

  • These birds may aggressively defend their territory by chasing rivals up and down trees, sometimes flying into them headfirst.
  • The males display their feathers by inflating their throat feathers and opening their tails like an umbrella during breeding. 
  • You can note their cooperative behavior at birdfeeders and remarkable vocalizations during courtship displays. 

6. Black-chinned Hummingbird

Black-chinned Hummingbird

This is the most common hummingbird found throughout North America, and you can often spot it hovering around flowers. It’s about 3.5 inches long with a wingspan of 4.3 inches.

They feed primarily on nectar from flowers but also eat insects and tree sap. They nest in trees or shrubs near water sources. 

Their habitats range from deserts to mountain forests, and they prefer to perch on bare branches. Sometimes you can find them along rivers, canyons, or shady oaks.

The female builds a small cup-shaped nest with plant material, which she lines with soft materials such as animal fur and other birds’ feathers.

Fun Facts

  • Their flight is quick and darting, chasing after other hummingbird species to steal their food.
  • Males spend most of their time foraging for food and defending territory, while females spend more time building the nest and incubating eggs.
  • The males defend territories during the breeding season by aggressively chasing away intruders with repeated quick dives.

7. Allen’s Hummingbird

Allen's Hummingbird

Allen’s Hummingbird is also among Virginia’s smallest hummingbird species. They’re 3.5 inches long with a wingspan of 4.3 or fewer inches.

They are often mistaken for Ruby-throated Hummingbirds because they have a similar wing shape, but Allens have much shorter tails and a greenish tinge on their back and head.

Allens feed on insects, spiders, small lizards, tree sap, and nectar from flowers while hovering with rapid wing beats.

They nest near water sources such as streams or ponds and can easily be attracted by various things in your yard. You can find them at forest edges, bogs, and swamps.

Fun Facts

  • Male Allens show off by diving at females in flight. If she likes what she sees, the male will be allowed to mate with her.
  • They mate for life and will protect their territory year-round against intruders.
  • While they’re territorial, they’ll tolerate each other more often if there’s plenty of food to go around (especially during winter). 

8. Buff-bellied hummingbird

Buff-bellied hummingbird

With a body length of about 4.3 inches and a wingspan of 5.4 inches, the buff-bellied hummingbird is one of the larger hummingbird species.

They’re categorized into three subspecies: Amazilia yucatanensis yucatanensis, Amazilia yucatanensis cerviniventris, and Amazilia yucatanensis chalconota.

Their diet includes insects, spiders, tree sap, nectar from flowers, and occasionally small lizards. 

You can find them in semi-arid scrub, pine-oak forests, and thickets near streams. They build cup-shaped nests from plant fibers covered with green moss for camouflage. 

Fun Facts

  • During breeding seasons, they’ll defend their territory aggressively by chasing away other birds, animals, or humans that come too close.
  • The female lays two eggs per clutch, which hatch after two weeks. The baby birds will leave for good after about five weeks in the nest!
  • You can find all three subspecies living together because they don’t compete for resources.
  • This hummingbird has a slightly decurved bill that it uses to probe for nectar deep inside flowers.

9. Violet-crowned Hummingbird

Violet-crowned Hummingbird

The violet-crowned hummingbird is a medium-sized bird found in North America and other locations like Peru, Bolivia, and western Brazil through Central America through Mexico. 

You can spot this species near rivers, hummingbird feeders, woodlands, creeks, and lakes feeding on insects and flowers foraging for nectar.

They build their nest on a small tree branch using moss, lichen, spider silk, and plant fibers like ferns. The nests are camouflaged with greenish materials to blend into the surroundings. 

Fun Facts

  • It has a unique feeding behavior where it hovers over a flower and makes quick, darting movements with its bill to catch insects attracted to its red gorget. 
  • They’re often seen in open woodlands with flowering plants like honeysuckle, fuchsia, phlox, eucalyptus trees, etc., in search of food.
  • The male violet-crowned hummingbird doesn’t help raise the young, but he may bring food to his mate during incubation.

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