Hummingbirds Illinois: Everything You Need to Know

Ruby throated hummingbirds

There are two main species of Hummingbird in Illinois but a total of 6 species are recognized in state bird records.

Species of hummingbirds are classed as resident, seasonal or rare in each state and according to avibase and accepted by the Illinois Ornithological Society these are the types of hummingbird in Illinois in each group:

Resident Species of Hummingbirds of Illinois :

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

Seasonal Species of Hummingbirds of Illinois:

Ruby-throated Hummingbirds, Rufous Hummingbirds are seasonal species of Humminbird in Illinois.

Rare/Accidental Species of Hummingbirds of Illinois:

Mexican Violetears are considered casual species as they can wander. Allen’s Hummingbirds, Anna’s Hummingbirds, and Broad-billed Hummingbirds are all considered to be accidental visitors to Illinois.

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

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

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.

8 Species of Hummingbirds in Illinois:

  1. Ruby-throated Hummingbird
  2. Rufous Hummingbird
  3. Mexican Violetear
  4. Allen’s Hummingbird
  5. Anna’s Hummingbird
  6. Broad-billed Hummingbird

6 Species of Hummingbirds Illinois

1. Ruby-throated Hummingbird

Ruby throated hummingbirds

Ruby-throated Hummingbirds of Illinois are a common sight in summer and they usually start to arrive in spring in April but mostly in May. Males usually arrive first up to one or two weeks before the females.

In the fall, migration usually occurs between September to Mid-October but some hang around as late as December.

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)

2. Rufous Hummingbird

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

Rufous Hummingbirds are not very common in Illinois but a few each year do wander this far north in winter. They are mostly spotted around Chicago. A good reason to keep your hummingbird feeders out in winter.

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.

3. Mexican Violetear

mexican violetear

Some non-breeding Mexican Violetears may fly north into the United States more commonly to Texas, but some have been spotted as far north as Michigan and Illinois but very rarely.

They have been recorded in Illinois 10 years ago. So not much hope of seeing them here.

Mexican Violetears are medium-sized hummingbirds that are metallic green with violet patches on the sides of their heads and breasts.

Males and females are similar but males are slightly larger and brighter.

  • Length: 3.8 – 4.7 in (9.7 – 12 cm)
  • Weight: 0.17 – 0.2 oz (4.8 – 5.6 g)

Mexican Violetears breed in forests in Mexico and through Central America to Nicaragua but can be found as far south as the mountains in Bolivia and Venezuela.

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

4. Allen’s Hummingbird

Allens hummingbird male

Allen’s Hummingbirds are accidental hummingbirds in Illinois and they have only been spotted a few times in winter, but not recorded in the last 10 years.

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 at no fixed height 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 but they are most common between March and July. Some remain resident in central Mexico and around Los Angeles.

7. Anna’s Hummingbird

annas hummingbird male
Male
annas hummingbird female
Female

An accidental species of hummingbird in Illinois, Anna’s Hummingbirds have been spotted only a few times in the state in winter near Chicago.

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 but some may move short distances in winter. They are the most common hummingbird along the Pacific Coast. They 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.

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’ nests are high in trees around 6 – 20 ft and they often have 2-3 broods a year.

8. Broad-billed Hummingbird

broad billed hummingbird male
Male
broad billed hummingbird female
Female

An accidental species of hummingbird in Illinois, the Broad-billed Hummingbird has only ever been spotted a few times in the state near Chicago, Springfield and Peoria.

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.

Also, check out these great articles about birds in Illinois:

Best Nectar Feeders to Attract Hummingbirds in Illinois

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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 Illinois to Your Backyard

If you would like to attract more hummingbirds to your yard in Illinois 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.