hummingbirds in New jersey

Hummingbirds in New Jersey: Top 8 Most Common Species with Pictures

Hummingbirds are one of the most interesting birds to casual and avid bird-watchers alike. They are fascinating creatures that are unbelievably fast and diminutive in size, so they can be difficult to tell apart from each other.

We are here to guide you through the identification, migration patterns, and interesting facts about the species of hummingbirds in New Jersey. Located on the east coast of the United States, New Jersey has a moderate climate. It has warm, humid summers and cold winters.

By the end of this article, you’ll have a significantly better idea of what type of hummingbird is licking on that juicy nectar from the nectar feeder in your backyard.

Types of Hummingbirds in New Jersey

Species of hummingbirds in a certain area/region can be classified as resident or rare. The Ruby-throated Hummingbird is the only species resident to New Jersey. The Rufous Hummingbird is also a fairly frequent visitor of the state.

Overall, there are eight hummingbird species with recorded sightings in New Jersey. 

Resident Hummingbird Species

Let’s get into it! Here are some interesting facts about the two species of hummingbirds you’re most likely to see in New Jersey.

1. Ruby-Throated Hummingbird

male ruby throated hummingbird
  • Scientific name: Archilochus colubris
  • Length: 2.8-3.5 inches
  • Weight: 0.1-0.2 oz
  • Wingspan: 3.1-4.3 inches

Ruby-throated Hummingbirds are one of the two species resident to New Jersey; they’re also the only hummingbird species known to breed in the state. They usually begin to appear towards the end of April/beginning of May. The males arrive first to start searching for feeding territories.

Author Note: As the summer nears its end and temperatures start to fall, Ruby-throated Hummingbirds depart from New Jersey and make their way across the Gulf of Mexico and settle down in Mexico for the winter.

They make this long journey in a single flight since there’s nowhere for them to pause their journey and rest their little wings.

True to their namesake, male Ruby-throated Hummingbirds have ruby-colored throats. They can also be identified through their forked tail and emerald backs. On the other hand, females are known for the color of their tail feathers; which are black, white, and greyish green.

If you want to attract Ruby-throated Hummingbirds to your garden, we recommend two methods.

The first is to plant flowering plants that are native to New Jersey, Ruby-throated hummingbirds are most attracted to red or orange plants. If you’re unable to do so, the alternative is to install nectar feeders for the birds to feed on.

2. Rufous Hummingbirds

rufous hummingbird in flight
  • Scientific name: Selasphorus rufus
  • Length: 2.8-3.5 inches
  • Weight: 0.1-0.2 oz
  • Wingspan: 4.3 inches

Although they’re not as common in New Jersey, the migration pattern of Rufous Hummingbirds is very similar to that of Ruby-throated ones.

They also arrive in New Jersey in late April/early May and make their way out of the state towards the end of September. Males are usually the first to leave, with females and their young following suit about 14 days later.

Rufous Hummingbirds are notorious for their fearlessness and confrontational behavior. Despite their diminutive stature, they’re highly territorial. These birds are known to chase other hummingbirds, larger birds, and even rodents away from their favorite nectar feeders and flowers.

Male Rufous Hummingbirds can be spotted easily from their shiny orange throats. The throats of females are white, with specks. Their backs are also green and their tail feathers have white tips.

Planting native nectar-filled flowers or setting up nectar feeders is the way to go when you’re attempting to attract Rufous Hummingbirds to your garden. However, it’s important to note that their aggressive, territorial nature can cause issues.

We recommend that you set up multiple nectar feeders in your yard so that all of your animal and bird visitors get a chance to feed.

Rufous Hummingbirds are most commonly found in mountain meadows, and in woods and forests in the winter. In the wild, these birds predominantly get their nutrition from the nectar of tubular flowers.

They will also eat small insects such as flies, gnats, and midges. Their nests can be found near the tops of trees and are built with spider webs.

Rare Hummingbird Species

These are the species that are seldom seen in New Jersey. If you see one, it is most likely a bird that has gotten lost during migration.

3. Black-Chinned Hummingbird

Black-Chinned Hummingbird in new jersey
  • Scientific name: Archilochus alexandri
  • Length: 3.5 inches
  • Weight: 0.1-0.2 oz
  • Wingspan: 4.3 inches

Black-chinned Hummingbirds are an incredibly rare sight in New Jersey, if you’re lucky, you may spot one in the city of Cape May every few years in winter.

They are known to breed in western states such as British Columbia (Canada) and Baja California (Mexico) in the summer. They then migrate to western Mexico and southern California in the winter.

Top Tip: Male Black-chinned Hummingbirds have glossy black throats with a hint of purple. Below the dark throat, there are lighter feathers that give the appearance of a collar. The male also has splashes of green on its chest and back. Females’ backs are also green and they have pale speckled throats.

In general, Black-chinned Hummingbirds are most likely to be found in close proximity to canyons and rivers sitting on small, bare branches of dead trees. They’re known to choose a perch that they favor and return to it frequently.

Black-chinned Hummingbirds’ diet consists of spiders, small insects, and nectar. When feeding on nectar, these birds can lick up to an astounding 17 times per second with their tongues. They craft their nests from seed heads and use spider silk to bind them together. The eggs laid by Black-chinned Hummingbirds are minuscule, measuring only 0.6 inches.

4. Calliope Hummingbird

calliope hummingbird in new jersey
  • Scientific name: Selasphorus Calliope
  • Length: 3.1-3.5 inches
  • Weight: 0.1 oz
  • Wingspan: 4.1-4.3 inches

Another rare species in New Jersey, with only 6 known sightings since 1996, is the Calliope Hummingbird. Despite being the smallest breeding birds in North America, they’re incredibly resilient.

Author Note: Their migration path spans over 5000 miles as they make their way from Mexico to Canada and back; Making them the smallest long-distance migrants in the world.

Calliope Hummingbirds are also known to be highly aggressive in defending their territories despite their lack of size (they are only three inches and weigh a tenth of an ounce). They have been seen to fend off much larger birds, such as hawks.

Males have bright purple throats, shiny green backs, white undersides, and dark tails. Females’ throats are more mundanely colored, and their undersides are distinguishable from their male counterparts by their pinkish-white hue.

Calliope Hummingbirds tend to create their nests on the branches of evergreen trees, pine trees for example. Their nests are built from a combination of moss, spider webs, and bark fibers. These birds’ diet consists mainly of small insects and nectar from flowers.

5. Allen’s Hummingbird

allens hummingbird on stick
  • Scientific name: Selasphorus sasin
  • Length: 3.5 inches
  • Weight: 0.1-0.14 oz
  • Wingspan: 4.3 inches

Allen’s Hummingbirds are seldom seen in New Jersey. There have only been four reported sightings since the turn of the millennium, all occurring in the vicinity of Cape May county.

Traditionally, these birds were likely to be found nesting on the west coast of the United States, especially in California in the summer, and Mexico in the winter. Lately, more and more of them have been staying in California for the entire year or making their way east for the winter months.

Male Allen’s Hummingbirds have shiny orange/red throats and green backs that make them easily confusable with Rufous Hummingbirds to the untrained eye.

The key to distinguishing between them is the slight difference in the shade of green on their backs. Another distinguishing feature of Allen’s Hummingbirds is the narrowness of the feathers on their outer tails.

Allen’s Hummingbirds’ tails and undersides are also orange and they have long straight bills. Females have the same colored backs as males, as well as similar bills. However, their throats are whitish in color instead of the males’ glossy orange.

6. Green Violetear Hummingbird

Green Violetear Hummingbird sitting
  • Scientific name: Colibri thalassinus
  • Length: 3.8-4.7 inches
  • Weight: 0.17-0.2 oz
  • Wingspan: 4.7 inches

Violetear Hummingbirds are almost non-existent in New Jersey, but they have been sighted before. The most recent sighting was in 2005 in Rumson. These birds are native to Mexico and Nicaragu and can be found as far south as Bolivia.

However, some of them may wander further north. If you’re lucky enough to see one of these vibrantly colored birds in the United States, it has probably gotten lost during migration.

Author Note: Male and female Violetear Hummingbirds are virtually identical in terms of color, with males being slightly brighter. The difference lies in their size, as males are slightly larger than their female counterparts.

These birds are grass-green and have a large violet spot on their chests, and a violet streak across their chins that connects to their ‘ears’, which are the same color.

7. Broad-Tailed Hummingbird

Broad-tailed Hummingbird flapping its wings
  • Scientific name: Selasphorus platycercus
  • Length: 3.1-3.5 inches
  • Weight: 0.1-0.2 oz
  • Wingspan: 5.25 inches

Broad-tailed Hummingbirds sighted in New Jersey are present in the state accidentally. Their main breeding grounds are the mountainous western states, such as Idaho, Wyoming, Montana, and California.

They breed in May and August in woodlands and meadows at elevations between 5000 and 10000 feet. The last sighting of these birds in New Jersey was in 2012.

To deal with the extremely low temperatures at high altitudes, Broad-tailed Hummingbirds can bring their heart rates down and lower their body temperature to put themselves in a torpor state.

Author Note: Nectar is the main pillar of these birds’ diet, their flowers of choice include sage, larkspur, and sage. They also feed on small insects and feed their young on them too.

Broad-tailed Hummingbirds build their nests from gossamer and spider webs. They locate their nests under the overhanging branches of aspen or evergreen trees in order to keep themselves and their young warm during the cold nights of the mountainous regions in which they reside.

Both male and female Broad-tailed Hummingbirds have shimmering green backs, white chests and bellies, and brownish wings. Males can be identified by their sparkling pink throats, while females and young ones have throats and cheeks that are green spotted.

These birds migrate to Southern Mexico for the winter around September and late August.

8. Anna’s Hummingbird

annas hummingbird at feeder
  • Scientific name: Calypte anna
  • Length: 3.9-4.3 inches
  • Weight: 0.1-0.2 oz
  • Wingspan: 4.7 inches

While all other species of hummingbirds in the United States are silent for the most part, Anna’s Hummingbirds are the exception. When moving between flowers, males emit a complex chain of sounds that resemble scratching.

These birds are infamous for their territorial tendencies; males dive at other birds, and at times people, as an intimidation tactic. Towards the lowest point of their dives, they use their tail feathers to emit loud, high-pitched popping noises to scare away any potential threats to their territory.

Top Tip: Male Anna’s Hummingbirds’ throats are a shiny red, as well as the tops of their heads. Their backs and undersides are green and gray respectively. The females’ throats have white and red spots. They also have pale gray chests, green backs, and white tips on their tails.

Anna’s Hummingbirds usually build their nests on shrubs or tree branches, however, they will sometimes locate them in vines or under the eaves of roofs. Their nests consist of plant fibers and spider webs, they are also lined with feathers.

They camouflage the exterior with lichens for protection against potential predators.

Conclusion

The hummingbird species you’re most likely to encounter in New Jersey are the Ruby-throated and Rufous Hummingbirds. Ruby-throated Hummingbirds are the only species that is known to breed along the east coast of the United States.

There are several other types of hummingbirds that have been sighted in the state, however, laying eyes on one of them is a rare occurrence. If you’re lucky, you might be in the right place at the right time and have the pleasure of laying your eyes on one of these fascinating creatures.

Species such as the Black-chinned, Calliope, and Allen’s Hummingbirds appear in New Jersey on isolated incidents, years apart.

The same is true for Green Violetear, Broad-tailed, and Anna’s Hummingbirds.

If you want to increase your chances of close encounters with these tiny, intriguing birds, make sure your yard is equipped with the necessary attractions. Having native nectar filled flowering plants and nectar feeders in your backyard is the way to go.

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