Hummingbirds New Jersey: Everything You Need to Know

costas hummingbird

There is only one main species of hummingbird in New Jersey, the Ruby-throated Hummingbird. However, 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 New Jersey Ornithological society.  These are the types of hummingbird in New Jersey in each group:

Resident Species of Hummingbirds of New Jersey:

Common_birds_-_part_1 x

There are no species of hummingbird classed as residents in New Jersey. However, Ruby-throated Hummingbirds have been spotted all year, so it might be good to keep those hummingbird feeders out.

Seasonal Species of Hummingbirds of New Jersey:

Ruby-throated Hummingbirds are seasonal species of Humminbird in New Jersey.

Rare/Accidental Species of Hummingbirds of New Jersey:

Rufous Hummingbirds, Mexican Violetear, Black-chinned Hummingbirds, Calliope Hummingbirds, Allen’s Hummingbirds and Broad-tailed Hummingbirds are all considered accidental visitors to New Jersey.

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

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

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 New Jersey:

  1. Ruby-throated Hummingbird
  2. Rufous Hummingbird
  3. Black-chinned Hummingbird
  4. Calliope Hummingbird
  5. Allen’s Hummingbird
  6. Broad-tailed Hummingbird
  7. Mexican Violetear

7 Species of Hummingbirds New Jersey

1. Ruby-throated Hummingbird

Ruby throated hummingbirds

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

In the fall, migration usually occurs between September and mid-October, but some hang around all winter 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 begin 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 New Jersey, but a few each year do wander this far north in winter. They arrive as early as July and leaving by April. Another 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.

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

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 are an accidental species in New Jersey spotted every few years in winter around Cape May.

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 tiny white 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.

4. 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 New Jersey and are spotted every few years in winter, between October and March, around Cape May, Laurence Harbour and Point Pleasant.

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 and 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. Allen’s Hummingbird

Allens hummingbird male

Allen’s Hummingbirds are accidental hummingbirds in New Jersey and they have only been spotted a few times in winter along the coast around Cape May, Tuckerton and up to Tom’s River.

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.

6. Broad-tailed Hummingbird

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

Broad-tailed Hummingbirds are accidental species in New Jersey and have not been spotted in the state since 2012. This was in Cape May.

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.

7. 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 New Jersey but very rarely and not since 2005.

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.

Also, check out these great articles about birds in New Jersey:

Best Nectar Feeders to Attract Hummingbirds in New Jersey

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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 New Jersey 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.