Hummingbirds Minnesota: Everything You Need to Know

rufous-hummingbird

There are only one species of regular Hummingbird in Minnesota the Ruby-throated Hummingbird but a total of 7 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 Minnesota Ornithological Union these are the types of hummingbird in Minnesota in each group:

Resident Species of Hummingbirds of Minnesota:

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

Seasonal Species of Hummingbirds of Minnesota:

Ruby-throated Hummingbirds are seasonal species of Humminbird in Minnesota.

Rare/Accidental Species of Hummingbirds of Minnesota:

Mexican Violetears are considered casual species as they can wander. Rufous Hummingbirds, Calliope Hummingbirds, Costa’s Hummingbirds, Rivoli’s Hummingbirds and Anna’s Hummingbirds,  are all considered to be accidental visitors to Minnesota.

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

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

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.

7 Species of Hummingbirds in Minnesota:

  1. Ruby-throated Hummingbird
  2. Rufous Hummingbird
  3. Mexican Violetear
  4. Costa’s Hummingbird
  5. Calliope Hummingbird
  6. Rivoli’s Hummingbird
  7. Anna’s Hummingbird

7 Species of Hummingbirds Minnesota

1. Ruby-throated Hummingbird

Ruby throated hummingbirds

Ruby-throated Hummingbirds of Minnesota 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 along longer.

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 Minnesota but a few each year do wander this far north in winter. They are mostly spotted around Minneapolis. 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

Mexican Violetears are accidental species in Minnesota and are extremely rare. 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 Minnesota but very rarely.

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. Costa’s Hummingbird

costas hummingbird
Male
Costa's hummingbird female
Female

Costa’s Hummingbirds are an accidental species in Minnesota and have rarely been seen. They have not been recorded in the last 10 years but are recognized as an accidental species of hummingbird in Minnesota.

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. Calliope Hummingbird

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

Calliope Hummingbirds are accidental hummingbirds in Minnesota and have only been spotted a few times. Duluth, 2016 was the last time, but they have been spotted near Minneapolis before that.

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.

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)

Although Rivoli’s Hummingbirds are considered an accidental species by the Illinois Ornithological Society I cannot find any recorded sightings.

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. Anna’s Hummingbird

annas hummingbird male
Male
annas hummingbird female
Female

An accidental species of hummingbird in Minnesota, Anna’s Hummingbirds have been spotted only a few times in the state in winter, but not for a long time.

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.

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

Best Nectar Feeders to Attract Hummingbirds in Minnesota

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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 Minnesota to Your Backyard

If you would like to attract more hummingbirds to your yard in Minnesota 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 sugar water, 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.