New England has two kinds of regular hummingbirds: Ruby-throated and Rufous. They're the most common ones you'll see around your garden. The other four types are accidental or rare to notice, and include the allen's, broad-billed, broad-chinned, and calliope hummingbirds.
These tiny birds usually come to New England around late April and early May. They’ll arrive by following the sapsuckers’ trails and wait until it’s warm enough for native plants to bloom.
If you want to attract hummingbirds in your yard and you live in the New England region, take your hummingbird feeders with sugar water out around April 1st. You can take them down at the beginning of December if you notice there aren’t any hummingbirds around for two weeks.
If you wish to attract more hummers to your garden, consider planting tubular flowering plants like bee balm, and trumpet vines. Check out more about the species of hummingbirds in this region and learn how to get them interested in your backyard.
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Species of Hummers in New England
Here’s a list by states of the most common Hummingbirds around New England:
- Allen’s (rare, last seen in Cape Cod in 2009 and Great Barrington in 2012)
Archilochus colubris is the most commonly spotted kind of hummer in the state during summer. They spend the breeding season in New England and then migrate in December. Adult male Ruby-throated hummingbirds have a red throat that could look darker in poor light. Males also come with greenbacks, gray sides, and white underparts.
The adult female Ruby-throated hummingbird has a white throat, metallic green back, and gray-brown wing sides. Their length is 3.5 inches maximum. When the breeding season gets close, they’ll migrate toward the US in February, arriving in Canada around May. The Ruby-throated hummer is the only hummer that breeds in eastern North America.
Their wintering grounds include Central America, while some may visit the Gulf of Mexico. Males tend to arrive at the mating grounds before females and will be aggressive towards other hummingbirds and birds.
Rufous Hummingbird (Selasphorus Rufus) is one of the near-threatened kinds, but some have reported sightings in Massachusetts during the winter months. They have been spotted around Boston from September to April. Rufous hummers are maximum of 3.5 inches long.
Adult males are primarily orange, while females have greenish backs, brown sides, and red flecks on their throats. Their breeding range includes parts of Alaska and Canada. Fall migration is around July/August to the end of October. They’ll feed mainly from tubular flowers and small insects.
This kind of hummingbird is rare/accidental in Massachusetts. It was last seen in Great Barrington in 2012. They’re the size of 3.5 inches and look similar to Rufous hummers. The slight difference is the narrow outer tail feathers in Allen’s hummers. Males have orange as their dominant color, with coppery-green backs. Adult females have similar shades but lack the bright gorget.
They like the following plants: honeysuckle, bush-monkeyflower, and fuchsia-flowered gooseberry. Allen’s hummers breed around Coastal California. Their wintering grounds are around Mexico. Some are constant residents of Los Angeles.
Broad-billed hummingbird was last seen in Barnstable in 2008, meaning it’s an accidental species. However, if you catch one, you can’t miss it. They’re brightly colored and have a beautiful shade of blue all over their bodies. Males are brighter than females, who have pale throats and are slightly green on their undersides.
Both males and females have reddish bills that expand close to their heads. This hummer is a constant resident of Mexico, but it may visit southern Arizona and New Mexico for breeding from March to September.
This is another accidental species of hummingbird in the New England area. They were last seen in Boston and Long Pond in 2015. With a length of 3.5 inches, they’re a bit larger than Ruby-throated hummers. Adult males have an iridescent purple base around their gorget and are overall dark in color.
Adult females have whitish throats and white tips on their tails. Once their breeding season is over, they’ll move to higher mountains, usually abundant with flowers. Then, they’ll migrate to some parts of Mexico, California, and the Gulf Coast to spend the winter.
Finally, Calliope hummers are also accidental species. They were last seen around Harwich in 2016. Calliope is the smallest bird in North America, but that doesn’t stop it from flying over 5,000 miles during migration.
Adult males are the only hummingbirds in the US with purple gorgets. They also have glossy green backs and dark tails. Adult females aren’t colorful but have pinkish-white sections and spots on their throats.
Calliope hummingbirds migrate to the Rocky Mountains and Pacific Coast in the spring. Their breeding range includes California, Colorado, and other northwestern states. In early April and mid-May, they’ll arrive as far as Canada. They spend winters in Mexico.
How Long Do Hummingbirds Stay in New England?
Some hummingbird species will arrive as early as mid-April and stay until November. Males will arrive first and depart first. Still, the length of stay and the moment of hummingbird migration depends on the species.
When it comes to hummingbirds in New England, you can expect to see Rufous and Ruby-throated kinds. The New England region has many hummingbird sightings, but these two hummers are the most common.
On the other hand, you might get to see Allen’s hummer or Calliope. Still, these are rare visitors. If you do catch them, make sure they have enough food sources around to stay for a while.