Hummingbirds in Idaho: Identification and Characteristics

Calliope hummingbirds in Idaho
The most common kinds of hummingbirds in Idaho are Black-chinned and Calliope Hummingbirds, with Black-chinned making up 13% of the list. However, Idaho is home to a total of 8 kinds of hummingbirds.

As the most common, Black-chinned birds are around during their breeding season from April to November. After that, they’ll migrate south to spend the winter. Keep reading to learn more about some other species you might see in this state.

What Is the Best Time of Year to See Hummingbirds in Idaho?

Hummingbirds usually visit Idaho, sometimes around the last week of April and the first week of May. Their numbers increase in August, and they’ll stay around until mid-October.

Black-chinned hummingbird is the most common kind during summer, representing 13.8% of hummingbirds. On the other hand, Anna’s hummingbird is common during winter, representing only 1.2% of all hummingbirds during the season.

How Long Do Hummingbirds Stay in Idaho?

Central and southern Idaho represent breeding grounds of the Broad-tailed hummingbird. This is why you might spot these hummingbirds from May to early August.

Anna’s hummingbirds will likely remain around from September to December. They like to spend winters most of all in Boise.

Black-chinned hummingbirds in Idaho
Black-Chinned Hummingbird

How Many Hummingbirds Live in Idaho?

Currently, there are 8 registered kinds of hummingbirds in this state. A total of 4 types are on Idaho’s list of regulars, while the other 4 are considered rare or accidental. One of these 4 is also near-threatened.

1. Black-chinned Hummingbird

Black-chinned hummingbird (Archilochus alexandri) is one of the most commonly seen hummingbirds in many sightings around Idaho. They’re present during the breeding season from April to November, then migrate to the south to spend the winter.

Their size is around 3.5 inches. Adult males have black throats with an iridescent purple base, while adult females have pale throats and white tips on tail feathers.

During summertime, this hummingbird species is usually located in western states — British Columbia and Baja California. Black-chinned hummingbirds are often seen sitting on tiny branches. They also like rivers or canyons.

2. Calliope Hummingbird

Calliope hummingbird is considered the smallest bird in northern North America, with a maximum size of about 3.5 inches. These are the second most common kind in Idaho state during summer. Birdwatchers report them in 6% of the checklists. Their breeding season lasts from April to October.

The adult male Calliope hummingbird has a magenta throat, or gorget. They also have glossy green backs and flanks with dark tails. Adult females don’t have such colorful throats and are pinkish-white underneath.

They’ll migrate toward the Rocky Mountains and the Pacific Coast during spring. Calliope’s breeding areas include:

  • California
  • Colorado
  • Alberta
  • British Columbia
  • Vancouver Island

After the fall migration, they usually spend the winter in Mexico and the Gulf Coast. This species will sometimes reuse their old nests or build on top of them.

3. Rufous Hummingbird

In the US, the Rufous Hummingbird (Selasphorus Rufus) is considered a near-threatened kind. However, it’s among this state’s top three most common hummingbirds. Rufous hummingbirds are spotted around during the breeding season from April to October.

The size of this species is around 2.8 to 3.5 inches. The adult male Rufous hummingbird comes with bright orange color on its back and belly and an iridescent red throat. Adult females have greenish-brown color on their backs and some copper color on the sides with a white belly.

During summer, Rufous hummingbirds breed across northwest Alaska and northwest Canada. Then, they migrate toward Mexico and the Gulf Coast to spend the winter. Spring migration starts in February, and they’ll hit Alaska by mid-April. Fall migration begins in July/August and concludes in October.

Rufous hummingbirds build their nests in high trees using spider webs and plants. They feed primarily on nectar from tubular flowers but will also eat gnats and flies. They’re known to be aggressive and will often chase off other hummingbirds.

4. Anna’s Hummingbird

Boise State University researchers have identified Anna’s hummingbird (Calypte anna) as a year-round hummingbird in Idaho—specifically in Ada County.

These tiny birds are around 3.9 inches, mostly green and gray. Adult males have iridescent reddish-pink throats, while adult females are gray with a bit of red spotting.

Additionally, Anna’s hummingbirds are the most common visitors to Pacific Coast. They also don’t migrate, which is strange for hummingbirds. They like backyards and parks with large colorful flowers and nectar feeders.

Broad-Tailed hummingbirds in Idaho
Broad-Tailed Hummingbird

5. Broad-tailed Hummingbird

Broad-tailed Hummingbirds (Selasphorus platycercus) aren’t that common in Idaho, although they could be seen during their breeding season from May to October. Their size is about 3.1 to 3.5 inches.

This type of hummingbird likes higher elevations and open woodlands. Adult males have iridescent rose throats, green on their backs, brown wings, and white chests. Adult females have greenish spots on their throats and cheeks.

Their breeding range involves central Idaho, southern Montana, northern Wyoming, and southern California. They will migrate to southern Mexico, but some may stay around the Gulf Coast. Broad-tailed hummingbirds migrate in April and late August/September.

Their favorite flowers include:

  • Larkspur
  • Scarlet gilia
  • Sage
  • Red Columbine

6. Costa’s Hummingbird

Costa’s Hummingbirds are an accidental kind in Idaho. They were seen in Meridian in 2004. This type of hummingbird is predominantly found in the desert. Its size is about 3.5 inches.

Adult males are striking iridescent purple gorgets that flare out and go with a purple crown. Their backs are green, and their bellies are whitish. Adult females lack purple and have more white on their bellies.

Costa’s hummingbirds are common residents of Baja California, Southern California, and Arizona. They migrate between the Pacific Coast of Mexico during winter and head towards Arizona, Nevada, Utah, and California for mating. They prefer desert scrub and deciduous forests.

7. Broad-billed Hummingbird

This is another accidental type of hummingbirds in this state. They were last seen in Caldwell in 2004. Broad-billed hummingbirds are around 3.1 to 3.9 inches. They’re brilliantly colored — the males have rich metallic green with a blue throat. Adult females have pale bellies. Both genders have red beaks with black tips.

This hummingbird species is present in central Mexico year-round. Some birds migrate to mountain canyons in southern Arizona and New Mexico for the breeding season that starts in March and finishes in September.

Few will remain all year around the Mexican border. They like canyons and mountain meadows but will also visit a garden feeder.

8. Ruby-throated Hummingbird

Ruby-throated hummingbirds are another accidental species in this state. They were last reported in 2009 by the Idaho Bird Records Committee in Ola.

However, if you’re lucky enough to see them, you’ll recognize them by their bright green backs and gray-white undersides. Males also have iridescent red throats. Their size is around 2.8 to 3.5 inches.

Even though they’re rare in Idaho, Ruby-throated hummingbirds are the only breeding hummingbirds in eastern North America. After the breeding season, they’ll migrate south toward Central America to spend the winter. Males tend to be aggressive and defend their feeders and flowers.

Most Common Kinds of Hummingbird in Idaho

These are the top three most common hummingbirds you’ll see around Idaho:

  • Black-chinned Hummingbird
  • Calliope Hummingbird
  • Rufous Hummingbird

Least Common Kinds of Hummingbird in Idaho

On the other hand, you’ll hardly notice these:

  • Costa’s Hummingbird
  • Broad-billed Hummingbird
  • Ruby-throated Hummingbird
Costa's hummingbirds in Idaho
Costa’s Hummingbird

How do you Attract Hummingbirds to My Feeders in Idaho

If you wish to attract more hummingbirds to your garden, you can start by making sugar water and posting the hummingbird feeders around. Note that several kinds of hummingbirds in Idaho tend to be aggressive, so post your feeders to accommodate their needs and make more different territories.

Give them even more by setting up a birdbath with fresh water. Avoid the use of pesticides and consider planting the following plants:

  • Salvias
  • Columbine
  • Bee balms
  • Fuschia
  • Lupin
  • Foxgloves

Hummingbirds Found In Idaho Overview

Placing a bird feeder with fresh sugar water nectar is the best way to attract hummingbirds to your backyard. You’ll likely get the Black-chinned hummingbird since it’s the most common in this state.

However, if you’re lucky, you might in fact catch a glimpse of the Ruby-throated Hummingbird—the rarest kind of hummingbird in Idaho.


Mileva has a passion for writing and she loves to share her thoughts in all forms. Observing wildlife — birds and other untamed animals soothes her soul. This is why you’ll often find her staring at the closest forest, looking for inspiration for her next article.

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