Hummingbirds Colorado: Everything You Need to Know

costas hummingbird

There are four seasonal species of hummingbird in Colorado and a further 7 species that are accidental visitors.

Species of hummingbirds are classed as resident, seasonal or rare in each state and according to avibase and accepted by the Colorado Field Ornithologists. These are the types of hummingbird in Colorado in each group:

Resident Species of Hummingbirds of Colorado:

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There are no species of hummingbird classed as residents in Colorado. 

Seasonal Species of Hummingbirds of Colorado:

Broad-tailed Humminbird, Black-chinned Humminbird, Rufous Hummingbird and Calliope Hummingbirds are seasonal species of Humminbird in Colorado.

Rare/Accidental Species of Hummingbirds of Colorado:

Ruby-throated Hummingbirds, Anna’s Hummingbirds, Rivoli’s Hummingbirds, Broad-tailed Hummingbirds, Costa’s Hummingbirds, White-eared Hummingbirds and Blue-throated Mountain Gems are all considered to be accidental visitors to Colorado.

Most of these accidental species have only been seen a few times in Colorado.

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

Rushed for time then check out this quick photo guide of male vs female hummingbirds.

Find out how to attract hummingbirds with plants and flowers. Also how to make your own sugar water.

11 Species of Hummingbirds in Colorado:

  1. Broad-tailed Hummingbird
  2. Black-chinned Hummingbird
  3. Rufous Hummingbird
  4. Calliope Hummingbird
  5. Ruby-throated Hummingbird
  6. Anna’s Hummingbird
  7. Rivoli’s Hummingbird
  8. Broad-billed Hummingbird
  9. Costa’s Hummingbird
  10. White-eared Hummingbird
  11. Blue-throated Mountain gem

11 Species of Hummingbirds Colorado

1. Broad-tailed Hummingbird

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

Broad-tailed Hummingbirds are the most common species of Hummingbird in Colorado in summer. They start to arrive as early as March but mostly in April and leave from Mid-August, but some are still seen as late as November.

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 between central Idaho, southern Montana, northern Wyoming, and south to California

Migration south is to southern Mexico for winter but some Broad-tailed Hummingbirds may stay on the Gulf Coast. Migration of Broad-tailed Hummingbirds occurs in April and late August and September

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.

2. Black-chinned Hummingbird

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

Black-chinned Hummingbirds are common in summer in Colorado, arriving in April and leaving from late August and September.

They 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 from British Columbia to Baja California in summer. After breeding, they may move to higher mountain areas with abundant flowers before migrating to western Mexico, southern California, and the Gulf Coast in the winter. Migration of Black-chinned Hummingbirds usually occurs in March and September

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 or by shady oaks.

3. Rufous Hummingbird

rufous-hummingbird male
Male
Rufous Hummingbird female
Female

Rufous Hummingbirds are visitors to Colorado in summer and they may only stay for a very short time. They don’t really arrive in any numbers until late June or July and then they start to head off in late August or September.

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 even a chance. They can be found in mountain meadows and in winter they live in woods and forests.

4. Calliope Hummingbird

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

Calliope Hummingbirds are not around for long and are mostly in Colorado in July and August. Some Calliope Hummingbirds may arrive as early as April and some hang on into October but the best chance to see them is in summer.

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)3
  • Weight: 0.1-0.1 oz (2.3-3.4 g)
  • Wingspan: 4.1-4.3 in (10.5-11 cm)

Calliope Hummingbirds’ spring migration is to the Rocky Mountains along the Pacific Coast to breeding areas in California, Colorado, and up to northwestern states, Alberta, British Columbia, and Vancouver Island. They start migration relatively early in February to arrive from Mid-April to early May as far north as Canada.

Fall migration is by the Rocky Mountains to wintering grounds in southwestern Mexico, but also more recently to the Gulf Coast in late August and September.

Nests are usually on evergreen trees and they may reuse them or build on top of an old nest.

5. Ruby-throated Hummingbird

Ruby throated hummingbirds

Ruby-throated Hummingbirds are rare in Colorado but they have been spotted in summer around Denver and Colorado Springs.

In the fall migration usually occurs between September to Mid-October but some hang around all winter now thanks to hummingbird feeders.

The Ruby-throated Hummingbirds are bright green on the back and crown, with a gray-white underside and the males have an iridescent red throat. Female Ruby-throated Hummingbirds are green on the back and white underneath with brownish crowns and sides.

  • Length: 2.8-3.5 in (7-9 cm)
  • Weight: 0.1-0.2 oz (2-6 g)
  • Wingspan: 3.1-4.3 in (8-11 cm)

The Ruby-throated Hummingbird is the only breeding hummingbird in eastern North America, they then migrate further south to Central America. Some migrate over the Gulf of Mexico or some migrate through Texas around the coast.

They start arriving in the far south in February and may not arrive in northern states and Canada until May for breeding. They start to migrate south in August and September.

These tiny birds zip from one nectar source to the next or catch insects in midair or from spider webs. They occasionally stop on a small twig but their legs are so short they cannot walk, only shuffle along a perch.

Flowering gardens or woodland edges in summer are the best places to find them when out.  They are also common in towns, especially at nectar feeders.

Male Ruby-throated Hummingbirds can be aggressive in their defense of flowers and feeders.  They do not stick around long after mating and may migrate by early August.

Ruby-throated females build nests on thin branches and make them out of thistle or dandelion down held together with spider silk. They lay 1-3 tiny eggs measuring only 0.6 in (1.3 cm)

6. Anna’s Hummingbird

annas hummingbird male
Male
annas hummingbird female
Female

Anna’s Hummingbirds are accidental species of hummingbird in Colorado but they have been spotted in the state, mostly around Denver, mostly in fall.

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)

Anna’s Hummingbirds do not migrate, which is unusual for hummingbirds. Anna’s Hummingbirds range is from British Columbia to Baja California in both summer and winter. However, some birds may move from the far north of their range for winter.

Anna’s Hummingbirds are the most common hummingbird along the Pacific Coast.

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.

The diet of Anna’s Hummingbirds includes nectar, tree sap, and small insects and spiders. Nectar sources are Eucalyptus, Nicotiana, Agave, Castilleja, Diplaucus, Ribes, Silena, Arctostaphylos as well as nectar feeders.

Anna’s Hummingbirds’ nests are high in trees around 6 – 20 ft and they often have 2-3 broods a year. They make dramatic dive displays 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.

7. 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 are accidental species of Hummingbirds in Colorado but they have been spotted in summer, mostly around Denver and Fort Collins.

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.

Find out how to attract hummingbirds with plants and flowers. Also how to make your own sugar water.

8. Broad-billed Hummingbird

broad billed hummingbird male
Male
broad billed hummingbird female
Female

Broad-billed Hummingbirds are accidental species of Hummingbird in Colorado and are rarely seen here. They have been spotted in Grand Junction in 2020 so you may get lucky.

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 between March and September 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.

9. Costa’s Hummingbird

costas hummingbird

Costa’s Hummingbirds are accidental species of Hummingbird in Colorado but a few are spotted in the state every year or so.

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.

10. White-eared Hummingbird

White-eared Hummingbird male

White-eared Hummingbird male (credit: Francesco Veronesi )

White-eared Hummingbirds are accidental species of Hummingbird in Colorado and are very rare but one has been seen but not since 2005 in La Plata.

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. They migrate to arrive in the southern United States in 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.

11. Blue-throated Mountain gem

A Male Blue-throated mountain gem

Blue-throated Mountain-gems are accidental species of Hummingbird in Colorado that have only been recorded once in the past 10 years in Colorado in Bellvue.

The Blue-throated Mountain-gem is the largest hummingbird 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.

Best Nectar Feeders to Attract Hummingbirds

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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 Colorado to Your Backyard

If you would like to attract more hummingbirds 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.