Hummingbirds Arizona: Everything You Need to Know

black chinned hummingbird

These tiny jeweled birds never fail to impress with a dash of speed and magnificent hovering skills and Arizona is a great place if Hummingbirds is what you want to see. Many Hummingbirds are migratory and spend winter in Mexico or further south and so have to pass through the border states such as Arizona to reach their breeding grounds.

This is excellent if you live in Arizona as not only do you get the migrating birds stopping to breed or passing through to more northerly states, you also get some extra species that mainly live south of the border but may occasionally pop over to visit.

The best locations to see the more rare hummingbirds in Arizona are Ramsey Canyon Preserve, Miller Canyon, Cave Creek Canyon, and the Paton Center.

Species of hummingbirds are classed as resident, seasonal or rare in each state and according to avibase and the Arizona Bird Committee these are the types of hummingbirds in Arizona:

Resident Species of Hummingbirds of Arizona:

Ruby-throated Hummingbirds are resident all year in Arizona

Seasonal Species of Hummingbirds of Arizona:

Broad-billed Hummingbirds, Black-chinned Hummingbirds, Costa’s Hummingbirds, Broad-tailed Hummingbirds, Rivoli’s Hummingbird, Rufous Hummingbird, Violet-crowned Hummingbird, Calliope hummingbird, and Blue-throated Mountain Gem are all seasonal species of Humminbird in Texas. However, some species do remain in Arizona all year even if not officially classed as resident.

Rare/Accidental Species of Hummingbirds of Arizona:

The Lucifer Hummingbird, Allen’s Hummingbird, White-eared Hummingbird, Berylline Hummingbird, and Plain-capped Starthroat are all considered to be rare or accidental visitors to Arizona.

Read on to find out everything you need to know about hummingbirds in Arizona.

15 Species of Hummingbirds in Arizona:

  1. Ruby-throated Hummingbird
  2. Broad-billed Hummingbird
  3. Black-chinned Hummingbird
  4. Costa’s Hummingbird
  5. Broad-tailed Hummingbird
  6. Rivoli’s Hummingbird
  7. Rufous Hummingbird 
  8. Violet-crowned Hummingbird
  9. Calliope Hummingbird
  10. Blue-throated Mountain-gem
  11. Lucifer Hummingbird
  12. Allen’s Hummingbird
  13. White-eared Hummingbird
  14. Berylline Hummingbird
  15. Plain-capped Starthroat

15 Species of Hummingbirds Arizona

1. Anna’s Hummingbird

annas hummingbird male
Male
annas hummingbird female
Female

Anna’s Hummingbirds are common birds in Arizona and are recorded in at least 25% of checklists for the state. They are more common during spring and fall as some birds move along the coast and into southeastern Arizona for winter.

Anna’s Hummingbirds are tiny birds that are mostly green and gray.  The male’s head and throat are iridescent reddish-pink the female’s throat is grayish with bits of red spotting.

  • Length: 3.9 in (10 cm)
  • Weight: 0.1-0.2 oz (3-6 g)
  • Wingspan: 4.7 in (12 cm)

Unusually Anna’s Hummingbirds do not migrate and are the most common hummingbird along the Pacific Coast. Some birds however may move up and down the coast during winter. Habitats of Anna’s hummingbirds are often backyards and parks with large colorful blooms and nectar feeders but they are also found in scrub and savannah.

Anna’s Hummingbirds make a dramatic dive display during courtship as the males climb up to 130 feet into the air before diving back to the ground with a burst of noise from their tail feathers. Anna’s Hummingbirds’ nests are high in trees around 6 – 20 ft and they often have 2-3 broods a year.

Habitats of Anna’s hummingbirds are often backyards and parks with large colorful blooms and nectar feeders but they are also found in scrub and savannah.

2. Broad-billed Hummingbirds

broad billed hummingbird male
Male
broad billed hummingbird female
Female

Broad-billed Hummingbirds in Arizona are mostly found around Phoenix and Tucson all year round but are more common in summer between March and October.

Broad-billed Hummingbirds are brilliantly colored, even among hummingbirds. The males are rich metallic green all over with a blue throat that extends down the breast. Females have a pale belly and both males and females have red beaks that are black-tipped and wide near their heads.

  • Length: 3.1 – 3.9 in (8-10 cm)
  • Weight: 0.1-0.1 oz (3-4 g)

Broad-billed Hummingbirds are resident all year in central Mexico and the Pacific Coast of Mexico. Some birds migrate north into mountain canyons in southern Arizona and New Mexico, for breeding and a few remain all year near the Mexican border.

Canyon streams and mountain meadows provide the ideal foraging areas for Broad-billed Hummingbirds but they will also visit backyard feeders. Nests are built quite low to the ground at about 3 feet near streams.

3. Black-chinned Hummingbird

black chinned hummingbird
Black-chinned Hummingbird male
Black chinned hummingbird female
Black-chinned Hummingbird Female (credit: Gary Leavens)

Black-chinned Hummingbirds breed in much of Arizona but rarely in the southwest of the state, but they can be seen during migration. These Hummingbirds are seen in Arizona from March to Mid-November but some may start migration as early as February and have been spotted in Phoenix at this time of year.

Black-chinned Hummingbirds are dull metallic green on the back and grayish-white underneath.  The males have a black throat with a thin iridescent purple base and the females have a pale throat and white tips on the tail feathers.

  • Length: 3.5 in (9 cm)
  • Weight: 0.1-0.2 oz (2.3-4.9 g)
  • Wingspan: 4.3 in (11 cm)

Black-chinned Hummingbirds breed predominantly inland in western states and migrate to western Mexico and the Gulf Coast in the winter. They eat nectar, small insects, and spiders and their tongues can lick 13-17 times per second when feeding on nectar.

Nests of Black-chinned Hummingbirds are made of plant down and spider silk to hold them together and they lay 2 white tiny eggs that are only 0.6 in (1.3 cm)

Black-chinned Hummingbirds can often be seen sitting at the top of dead trees on tiny bare branches and often return to a favorite perch. They can be found along canyons and rivers in the Southwest or by shady oaks in the Gulf Coast.

4. Costa’s Hummingbird

costas hummingbird

Costa’s Hummingbirds may be seen in southern Arizona in winter around Phoenix, Tucson, and Kofa National Wildlife Refuge. During summer they breed in the state but not usually in the northeast of the state.

Costa’s Hummingbirds are predominantly desert hummingbirds with striking iridescent purple throat patches that flare out and a purple crown. Their backs are green and their bellies are white with green coloring on the sides. Female Costa’s Hummingbirds lack the purple color and are more white on the belly.

  • Length: 3.5 in ( 7.6 – 8.8 cm)
  • Weight: 0.1-0.1 oz (2-3 g)

Costa’s Hummingbirds are residents in Baja California and southern California and southwestern Arizona. They also migrate between the Pacific Coast of Mexico in winter and up into Arizona, the southern edges of Nevada and Utah, and California for breeding.

Desert scrub, chaparral, and deciduous forest provide the habitat of Costa’s Hummingbirds and they visit many different species of plants.  Nests are built quite low at three to seven feet above the ground in shrubs and they may have up to two broods in a year.

5. Broad-tailed Hummingbird

Broad-tailed Hummingbird male (Selasphorus platycercus)
Male
Broad tailed Hummingbird female 2
Female

Broad-tailed hummingbirds of Arizona breed in mountain meadows in the state during summer, but not usually in the southwest of Arizona. They are commonly spotted in summer between March and October and some have overwintered in the far south of Arizona.

Broad-tailed Hummingbirds live in higher elevations and are iridescent green on the back, brownish in the wings, and white on the chest and into the belly.  Males have an iridescent rose throat, females and juveniles have green spots on their throats and cheeks.

  • Length: 3.1-3.5 in (8-9 cm)
  • Weight: 0.1-0.2 oz (2.8-4.5 g)

 Broad-tailed Hummingbirds breed in high meadows and open woodlands between 5,000 – 10,000 feet elevation in the mountainous west, between late May and August, before migrating to southern Mexico for the winter.

Due to the cold at higher elevations, the Broad-tailed Hummingbird can slow their heart rate and drop their body temperature to enter a state of torpor.

Nectar from flowers is the usual food of hummingbirds and Broad-tailed Hummingbirds drink from larkspur, red columbine, sage, scarlet gilia and they will also come to hummingbird nectar feeders.  They supplement their diet with small insects and will feed their young on insects too.

Broad-tailed Hummingbird nests are usually on evergreen or aspen branches and are made with spider webs and gossamer under overhanging branches for added insulation during cold nights.

6. Rivoli’s Hummingbird

Rivolis hummingbird male
Rivoli’s Hummingbird male (credit: Nate Steiner)
Rivolis hummingbird female cc
Rivoli’s Hummingbird female (credit: Nate Steiner)

Rivoli’s Hummingbirds although not common in Arizona they breed in the state and can be spotted in the southeast of the state in Oak Creek Canyon, Mt Graham, Mt Lemmon, Madera Canyon, and canyons along the southeast of Arizona. Some will overwinter in the far southeast of the state.

Rivoli’s Hummingbirds are large hummingbirds with more striking coloring than most hummingbirds as they have an iridescent purple crown as well as the more usual iridescent throat in the males, which is emerald green. Males are dark green and the females are green on the back and grayish underneath.

  • Length: 4.3-5.5 in (11-14 cm)
  • Weight: 0.3-0.3 oz (7-8 g)

Rivoli’s Hummingbirds are resident in Mexico and Central America but some do migrate north into southern Arizona and New Mexico and southwestern Texas. They can be found in pine-oak forests in mountainous regions but will visit feeders in their range. They build nests relatively high up.

7. Rufous Hummingbird

rufous-hummingbird male
Rufous Hummingbird Male
Rufous Hummingbird female
Rufous Hummingbird female

Rufous Hummingbirds in Arizona are more common during fall migration but they can also be spotted during spring migration. Some may spend the winter in the southeast of the state.

Rufous Hummingbirds are bright orange on the back and belly, a white patch below the throat, and an iridescent red throat in the males.  The females are greenish-brown on the back and rusty colored on the sides with a whitish belly.

  • Length: 2.8-3.5 in (7-9 cm)
  • Weight: 0.1-0.2 oz (2-5 g)
  • Wingspan: 4.3 in (11 cm)

Rufous Hummingbirds are one of the longest migrating birds relative to their size, traveling up to 4000 miles each way. They breed in northwest Alaska and migrate down to Mexico and the Gulf Coast for winter. 

They migrate north along the Pacific Coast in spring and by the Rocky Mountains in late summer and fall.

Rufous Hummingbirds feed mostly on nectar from colorful tubular flowers and from insects such as gnats, midges, and flies. They build a nest high up in trees using soft plant down and spider webs to hold it together.  They lay 2-3 tiny white eggs that are about 0.5 in (1.3 cm) long.

They are very aggressive and chase off any other hummingbirds that may appear, even larger hummingbirds or resident ones during migration.  During migration, they won’t hang around long and will chase off most other hummingbirds given a chance. They can be found in mountain meadows and in winter they live in woods and forests.

8. Violet-crowned Hummingbird

Violet-crowned Hummingbird

Violet-crowned Hummingbirds of Arizona can be spotted in the canyons around Miller Peak, Huachuca Canyon, and the Paton Center for Hummingbirds.

Violet-crowned Hummingbirds are medium-sized and have a violet cap as the name would suggest. They are dark olive-green on the back and white underneath. their beaks are red with a black tip. Females are less colorful than males. They have metallic bluish-green tails and a blue-black band across the tail near the end.

  • Length: 4 in (10 cm)
  • Weight:  0.18 oz (5 g)

Violet-crowned Hummingbirds range from the mountains in southeastern Arizona and southwestern New Mexico and down southwestern Mexico.  They arrive in the United States in February or March and nest in Arizona and New Mexico between April and September. They generally move south for winter but some may remain at backyard feeders through the winter.

Habitat is tropical deciduous forests and semiarid scrub and nests are often in sycamore or oak trees. Violet-crowned Hummingbirds are sometimes seen in Texas around El Paso but they are rare.

9. Calliope Hummingbird

Calliope hummingbird male
Calliope Hummingbirds male (credit: Rocky Raybell)
Calliope hummingbird female
Calliope Hummingbird female (credit: Rocky Raybell)

Calliope Hummingbirds are more frequently seen in Arizona during fall migration between mid-July and mid-September but they are also spotted during spring migration between April and mid-May in the southwest of the state. A few Calliope Hummingbirds have spent winter in Arizona in the southeast of the state.

The tiny ping ball-sized Calliope Hummingbird is the smallest bird in the United States but still manages to fly more than 5000 miles each year all the way from Mexico up as far as Canada and back. They also punch above their weight when it comes to defending their territory and even chase Red-tailed Hawks.

Male Calliope Hummingbirds have bright magenta throats, (known as the gorget), glossy green backs and flanks, and a dark tail. Females lack the iridescent throats and are more pinkish-white underneath rather than white in the males.

  • Length: 3.1-3.5 in (8-9 cm)
  • Weight: 0.1-0.1 oz (2.3-3.4 g)
  • Wingspan: 4.1-4.3 in (10.5-11 cm)

Spring migration is along the Pacific Coast to breeding areas in northern California, Colorado, and up to northwestern states and Canada. They start migration relatively early to arrive from Mid-April to early May.

Nests are usually on evergreen trees and they may reuse them or build on top of an old nest. Fall migration is by the Rocky Mountains to wintering grounds in southwestern Mexico.

10. Blue-throated Mountain-gem

A Male Blue-throated mountain gem

Blue-throated Mountain gems are not common in Arizona but they do breed in the southeast of the state.

The Blue-throated Mountain-gem is the largest hummingbirds that nest in the United States and as the name suggests the males have iridescent blue throats.  Both male and female Blue-throated Mountain gems are bronzy-green on the back and grayish below, with white tips on the black tail feathers.

  • Length: 4.3-4.7 in (11-12 cm)
  • Weight: 0.3-0.3 oz (8.1-8.6 g)

Mostly resident in Mexico but some Blue-throated Mountain gems move north short distances into southeastern Arizona and southwestern Texas. Mountain woodlands along streams with lots of flowers or backyards with feeders are the best places to spot Blue-throated Mountain gems. They feed more in the morning and late afternoon, out of the heat of midday.

Nests of Blue-throated Mountain gems are larger than most to accommodate their larger size and can measure 2 inches wide and 3 – 10 inches high.

11. Lucifer Hummingbird

Lucifer hummingbird male
Male (credit: ALAN SCHMIERER)
Lucifer Hummingbird female
Female (credit: ALAN SCHMIERER)

Lucifer hummingbirds breed in Arizona in the southeast of the state and can be spotted around Madera Canyon, canyons around Millers Peak, and Cave creek.

Lucifer Hummingbirds have curved bills, forked tails, a green back, and purple throats in the male.  

  • Length: 3.9 in (10cm)
  • Weight: 0.1-0.1 oz (3-4 g)

These hummingbirds are found in desert habitats and dry canyons and feed on flowering agaves, ocotillo, and century plants. Due to their desert habitat, they are not commonly seen so are quite a sought-after species to spot.

During courtship displays, the males will make sudden dives from 100 feet in front of the females.

Lucifer hummingbirds breed in northern Mexico and small areas of Arizona, New Mexico, and Texas between March and September. They migrate to central Mexico for winter by November. Nests are usually built on Cacti or succulents and they will have one or two broods a year.

12. Allen’s Hummingbird

Allens hummingbird male

Allen’s Hummingbirds although rare in Arizona they can be seen during migration in the second half of February and during fall migration between July and November in the southeast of the state.

Allen’s Hummingbirds look very similar to Rufous Hummingbirds so it’s hard to tell them apart in the narrow band of coastal forest and scrub they inhabit between California and Oregon.

Male Allen’s Hummingbirds have iridescent reddish-orange throats and orange bellies, tails, and eye patches.  Both males and females have long straight bills and coppery-green backs but the females lack the bright throat coloring.

  • Length: 3.5 in (9 cm)
  • Weight: 0.1-0.1 oz (2-4 g)
  • Wingspan: 4.3 in (11 cm)

The difference between Allen’s and Rufous Hummingbirds is the narrow outer tail feathers in Allen’s Hummingbird. They build nests near shady streams and have up to 3 broods a year.

Allen’s Hummingbirds spend winter in Mexico and migrate as early as January up to the Pacific Coast in California and Oregon. Some remain resident in central Mexico and around Los Angeles.

13. White-eared Hummingbird

White-eared Hummingbird male

White-eared Hummingbird male (credit:Francesco Veronesi )

Although rare in Arizona the White-eared Hummingbird has been seen in summer between April and November in canyons around Millers Peak and around Cave Creek Canyon in the southeast of the state.

White-eared Hummingbirds are green on their backs and breasts with a black head and a white eyestripe on both males and females. Their beaks are red with a black tip. Males have a metallic turquoise green throat with violet patches on the face.

  • Length: 3.5 – 4 in (9-10 cm)
  • Weight: 0.1 – 0.14 oz (3-4 g)

White-eared Hummingbirds range from Nicaragua up to the mountains in southeastern Arizona, southwestern New Mexico, and western Texas but they are rare in the United States. They usually nest between March to August in northern and central Mexico or later in July in Arizona and they may have 3 broods in a year. However, they may arrive in Arizona from March and leave by early September.

Scrubby growth and forests or backyards provide the habitat of White-eared Hummingbirds and they nest in shrubs or low trees.

14. Berylline hummingbird

Berylline Hummingbird

Berylline Hummingbird (credit: ALAN SCHMIERER)

Berylline Hummingbirds can be found in Arizona in the Santa Rita Mountains, Huachuca Mountains, and Chiricahua Mountains during breeding between April and November. 

Berylline Hummingbirds are metallic green with a gray lower belly and reddish in the wings. Females are less colorful than males and are slightly smaller. Their upper bills are black and the lower bill is reddish-orange.

  • Length: 3 – 4.25 in (8-11 cm)
  • Weight:  0.14 – 0.18 oz (4-5 g)

They range from Mexico to Honduras in open woodlands of oak and pine and shady canyons and they will also stray up into southeastern Arizona. They are usually solitary birds and can be aggressive in defending their territory including at hummingbird feeders.

15. Plain-capped Starthroat

Plain-capped Starthroat

Plain-capped Starthroat (credit: ALAN SCHMIERER)

Although very rare in Arizona they have been spotted in the last few years in Miller Canyon and Paton Center for Hummingbirds.

The Plain-capped Starthroat is large but quite dull in comparison to most hummingbirds with only a small violet-red throat patch that is hard to see as it looks dark in most like. They are also a metallic bronze color rather than the green of most hummingbirds. they have a white patch on the rump and the breast and belly are grayish-white. Females are less colorful than males.

  • Length: 4.33 – 4.72 in (11 – 12 cm)
  • Weight:  0.24 – 0.28 oz (7 – 8 g)

Arid or semiarid forests and streams along dry forest edges are the usual habitats of Plain-capped Starthroat between Mexico and Costa Rica. They may rarely be seen at the end of the breeding season between June and September in southeastern Arizona.

Best Nectar Feeders to Attract Hummingbirds in Arizona

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The more the merrier with Hummingbirds is what I think and they can be territorial so getting a few hummingbird feeders around your backyard is best.  We have picked the best hummingbird feeders for you to get hummingbirds buzzing all over your yard.

How to Attract the Hummingbirds of Arizona to Your Backyard

If you would like to attract more hummingbirds in Arizona to your yard here are some tips:

  1. Provide more hummingbird feeders and spread them around your yard to create more territories.
  2. Ensure you clean and change the hummingbird nectar regularly.  You can either buy nectar or make your own, but don’t use any with red dye.
  3. Provide a water feature such as a birdbath fountain or stream.  Ensure that the water is clean and not stagnant
  4.  Grow native plants that will provide food such as salvias, fuschias, trumpet creeper, lupin, columbine, bee balms, and foxgloves
  5. Don’t use pesticides and herbicides as these may be toxic to birds.
  6. Provide small perches of thin branches bare of leaves for hummingbirds to rest.

How to Identify Birds in Arizona

Here are some tips to help you identify birds whether you are out birding or backyard bird watching in Arizona:

  1. Size – Size is the easiest thing to notice about a bird.  Birds are often measured in inches or centimeters in guide books.  It’s best to take a note of the bird in terms of small, medium, or large to be able to look for it later. A small bird is about the size of a sparrow, a medium bird is about the size of a pigeon and a large bird is the size of a goose.
  2. Shape – Take note of the silhouette of the bird and jot it down or draw the outline.  Look at tail length, bill shape, wing shape, and overall body shape.
  3. Color pattern – Take a note of the main color of the head, back, belly, and wings, and tail for the main color and then any secondary colors or patterns. Also take note of any patterns such as banding, spots, or highlights.
  4. Behavior – Are they on the ground or high up in the trees. Are they in flocks or on their own?  Can you spot what they are eating?
  5. Habitat – Woodlands, parks, shrubs, grasslands or meadows, shore or marsh.
  6. Use a bird identification app such as those created by ebird or Audubon