Tiny Jewels of Texas: A Guide to the State’s Hummingbird Species

They flit from flower to flower, their wings a blur as they hover in midair. Hummingbirds are nature’s aerial acrobats, and Texas plays host to an incredible variety of these feathered marvels.

From the brilliant ruby-throats to the diminutive calliopes, let’s explore the kaleidoscope of hummingbird species that grace the Lone Star State.

1. Ruby-throated Hummingbird

Image Credit: Benjamin Birkhahn/Shutterstock

The ruby-throat reigns supreme as the most common hummingbird species east of the Rocky Mountains. These tiny dynamos, measuring just 3-4 inches long, are a familiar sight in gardens and parks across eastern Texas during their breeding season (ref).

Males sport a dazzling iridescent red throat patch that glistens like a precious ruby in the sunlight. Females, though less flamboyant, are equally captivating with their emerald-green backs and white-tipped tails.

Ruby-throated hummingbirds are known for their remarkable migration, traveling up to 500 miles non-stop across the Gulf of Mexico each spring and fall. Their journey is a testament to their endurance and navigational prowess.

2. Black-chinned Hummingbird

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As its name suggests, the black-chinned hummingbird boasts a striking black throat patch that contrasts beautifully with its metallic green plumage. This species is a common sight in western and central Texas (ref), particularly in arid regions and desert habitats.

Measuring around 3.5 inches long, these tiny birds are expert aerial hunters, snatching insects from midair with lightning-fast precision. Their high-pitched buzzing is a familiar sound in many Texas gardens and parks.

Black-chinned hummingbirds are known for their territorial behavior, fiercely defending their feeding territories from intruders. Their aerial dogfights are a sight to behold, as they dart and dive with incredible agility.

3. Rufous Hummingbird

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The rufous hummingbird is a true wanderer, migrating annually from its breeding grounds in the Pacific Northwest to its wintering grounds in Mexico and the Gulf Coast states, including Texas (ref). These feisty birds are a common sight in the western and central regions of the state during their migration.

With their rusty-red plumage and iridescent orange-red throats, male rufous hummingbirds are a sight to behold. Females, though less colorful, are equally captivating with their green backs and rufous-tinged flanks.

Despite their diminutive size, rufous hummingbirds are known for their aggressive nature, fearlessly defending their territories against much larger birds and even small mammals.

4. Buff-bellied Hummingbird

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The buff-bellied hummingbird is a true Texan, found primarily in the Rio Grande Valley and coastal regions of the state in the fall and winter months (ref). These birds are easily recognized by their distinctive buffy-orange bellies and green crowns.

Measuring around 4 inches long, buff-bellied hummingbirds are a common sight in gardens and parks, where they can be seen hovering at feeders and flowers, their wings a blur of motion.

These birds are known for their unique courtship displays, with males performing elaborate aerial dances and diving displays to attract potential mates.

5. Calliope Hummingbird

Image Credit: Nico Giuliani/Shutterstock

The calliope hummingbird is a true avian gem, measuring just 3 inches long and earning the title of the smallest bird species found in the United States (ref). These tiny birds are occasional visitors to the mountains and canyons of western Texas during their breeding season.

With their striking magenta-red throats and iridescent green plumage, male calliopes are a sight to behold. Females, though less colorful, are equally captivating with their muted green and gray hues.

Despite their diminutive size, calliope hummingbirds are known for their feisty nature, fearlessly defending their territories against larger birds and even small mammals.

Other Hummingbirds in Texas

Image Credit: Keneva Photography/Shutterstock
  • Allen’s Hummingbird – Rare winter visitor, similar to Rufous
  • Anna’s Hummingbird – Rare but regular winter visitor
  • Broad-tailed Hummingbird – Rare migrant in west Texas (ref)
  • Lucifer Hummingbird – Breeds in mountains of Big Bend region
  • Rivoli’s Hummingbird – Breeds in mountains of Big Bend

From the ruby-throated beauties of the east to the diminutive calliopes of the west, Texas is a true hummingbird paradise. So keep your eyes peeled and your feeders filled, for these winged jewels are sure to delight and enchant all who are fortunate enough to witness their aerial acrobatics.

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Davin is a jack-of-all-trades but has professional training and experience in various home and garden subjects. He leans on other experts when needed and edits and fact-checks all articles.