Hummingbirds of Ohio (2 Species to Know)

Hummingbirds are captivating creatures that buzz around backyards and flowers at a frenetic pace. While they are quite small, they sometimes travel extreme distances during migration, leading to many species showing up in places outside of their normal range.

While Ohio has records of many different rare hummingbirds showing up in the state over the years, there are really only two species that can be found in the state on a regular basis. Here is everything you need to know about those two species.

Ruby-throated Hummingbird

Ruby-throated Hummingbird Male – Photo by USFWS Midwest Region
Ruby-throated Hummingbird Female – Photo by Susan Young
Identification

Ruby-throated Hummingbirds look different depending on the lighting. Sometimes they can appear dark olive color, but when the sun hits them, they shine with a bright emerald green on the back, wings, head, and tail. Female Ruby-throated Hummingbirds have a white throat and underside while males have a bright shining red throat. Again, if the lighting is dark, the throat will be dark red to black looking in color.

Range

The Ruby-throated Hummingbird spends the winter in Central America and Southern Mexico. In spring, they head north and breed throughout the Eastern United States as well as some parts of Southern Canada. The Ruby-throated Hummingbird is the only naturally occurring hummingbird species that breeds in the Eastern US.

Diet and Foraging Habits

Ruby-throated Hummingbirds consume nectar from flowers, particularly from red or orange flowers. They will also eat small insects that they find near flowers or even catch them out of mid air.

Where to Find This Bird

Ruby-throated Hummingbirds can be found in forested areas, around fields, and in backyards. They frequent ornamental flowers as well as hummingbird feeders and are common in their normal range. To find them, either stake out flower beds, or keep your eyes peeled for something that looks like a very large insect buzzing through the air.

Rufous Hummingbird (Uncommon)

Rufous Hummingbird Adult Male – Photo by Alan Schmierer
Rufous Hummingbird – Photo by Bill Grossmeyer
Identification

Adult male Rufous Hummingbirds have a golden orange color on their head, back, and tail with darker colored wings. They have dark tips of the tail feathers with the exception of the outer tail feathers that are white-tipped. Adult males have a reddish pink iridescent throat and a white bib. Females and immature males are much more pale overall with a light underside and a green back, head, and tail. They still have hints of the rusty orange coloration that adult males possess but it looks like more of a light wash.

Range

Rufous Hummingbirds live in the Western half of North America. They winter in Southwestern Mexico and have a fairly lengthy migration to the Pacific Northwest and Southwestern Canada where they spend the breeding months.

Diet and Foraging Habits

Rufous Hummingbirds feed from flowers where they use their long bills to get nectar. They also eat small insects such as flies and aphids. They will catch them on the wing or pick them off of flowers and vegetation.

Where to Find This Bird

Rufous Hummingbirds live in a wide variety of habitats including forests, meadows, and backyards. This species is known to visit hummingbird feeders and can sometimes be a bully to other hummingbirds trying to get nectar.

In Ohio, Rufous Hummingbirds are rare visitors but do make an appearance on an annual basis. They are typically found during fall migration and usually by a homeowner who notices them at their hummingbird feeder. Look for a large hummingbird from November to January and leave feeders up well into late fall if you’d like to attract one.

Summary

Hummingbirds are beloved by many birders and backyard bird watchers alike. Knowing the habits, range, and key identification features of each of these species can be incredibly useful in knowing what to look for in the field. Keep in mind, Ohio has had an assortment of rare hummingbirds that show up very occasionally, so it’s possible that a bird you are trying to identify could be a vagrant species, so do not rule any of them out if your bird doesn’t fit with either of the two expected species.

If you enjoyed this post, please give it a like and a comment. Also be sure to check out the Badgerland Birding Youtube Channel.

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