5 Hummingbirds Found in West Virginia: Identification and Characteristics

how to tell hummingbirds apart 13
There are no resident hummingbirds in West Virginia. Two hummingbird species: the ruby-throated hummingbird, and the rufous hummingbird are commonly seen migrating through the state. Sightings of other species tend to be accidental and rare in most cases. 

West Virginia has its fair share of hummingbird spottings, albeit there isn’t as much diversity. However, the trees and the flowering plants from here can undoubtedly get the attention of some of them.

Hummingbirds are one of three in any given location: residents, seasonal species, and a rare/accidental species. Unfortunately, Virginia has no hummingbird residents but has two seasonal visitors and a few rare sightings.

Ruby-throated hummingbirds and Rufous hummingbirds are the only seasonal visitors in West Virginia. And then there are accidental or rare visitors like Black-chinned Hummingbirds, Calliope Hummingbirds, Allen’s Hummingbirds, Rivoli’s Hummingbirds, and Anna’s Hummingbirds.

The bottom line is you can have the chance to see and admire a hummingbird in flight in West Virginia. So get your bird goggles on and start bird watching these gorgeous jewels. The sightings will not disappoint!

Most common species of hummingbirds in Virginia

west virginia hummingbird spotted the ruby throated hummingbird

The Ruby-throated hummingbird (Archilochus colubris)

No hummingbirds reside here year-round in this area, but the most common type of hummingbird in West Virginia is the Ruby-throated hummingbird. But that’s not a shock, as they are pretty common everywhere.

You can usually spot them in West Virginia in spring or summer, starting April or May. Males typically get there in mid-April, and females sometime after that. They usually stay until September or October. Typically, Ruby-throated hummingbirds stay in Central America during the summer and then fly to the Gulf of Mexico during the winter.

Appearance: The male ruby-throated hummingbird has a beautiful iridescent ruby-red throat and an emerald green back and crown. The undersides are white and greyish. The female Ruby-throated hummingbirds are duller. They have a green back, white underside, and brown crown.

rufous hummingbird

Rufous hummingbird (Selasphorus Rufus)

Typically, Rufous hummingbirds can be found on the Pacific Coast and in Canada during the summer. They migrate to California come spring and the Rocky Mountains in the fall.

You can see some Rufous hummingbirds in West Virginia during the winter – they’re the second most spotted hummingbird in Virginia. You can spot them in places such as Washington, Charlottesville, or Norfolk.

Appearance: Rufous hummingbirds are rufous on the back and belly; they have an iridescent rufous gorget and a white spot on their chest. Females are mostly brown and gray, with a white belly and rufous sides.

Hummingbirds are big migrators: they migrate the longest distances out of all hummingbird species (more specifically, about 800 miles). Rufous hummingbirds are generally more aggressive and territorial than other hummingbirds, even though they are smaller.

Allen’s hummingbird (Selasphorus sasin)

Allen’s hummingbirds fly along the Pacific Coast to California to breed. This usually happens in January. They spend the rest of their time in Central America. Allen’s hummingbirds are considered quite rare in Virginia.

Appearance: The male has an orange-red-yellow throat, a greenback, and rufous sides and tail. Female Allen’s hummingbirds have a speckled gorget and a greenback with brown flanks.

Black-chinned Hummingbird (Archilochus alexandri)

Black-chinned hummingbirds breed in western states and migrate to Mexico, California, and the Gulf Coast during the winter. They’re considered rare in Virginia and have been spotted in Northampton and Williamsburg.

Males sport a beautiful purple iridescent throat and have black bodies with grey underparts. Females look very different and have a green body, white throat, and white tail feather tips. Fun Fact: The oldest black-chinned hummingbird ever discovered turned out to be ten years old!

calliope hummingbird

Calliope hummingbirds

Calliope hummingbirds are considered the smallest birds in the US. Breeding season happens in the Pacific Northwest and Canada for these hummingbirds, and they migrate to Central America during the winter.

Sightings of the Calliope hummingbirds have been sporadic in West Virginia. However, they have been seen several times in the last decade.

Males have an impressive iridescent magenta gorget and a greenback. Females look duller and have a greenback and a pink-white belly. Other hummingbird sightings in Virginia include species like Rivoli’s and Anna’s hummingbirds.

How to attract Virginia hummingbirds to your yard

Plant native plants

Consider planting tubular vividly-colored plants. Tubular flowers are perfect for their long tongues, and the vivid red or orange colors ensure that hummingbirds can be drawn to them. Some examples of hummingbirds’s favorites include bee balm, salvia, columbine, honeysuckle, and fuchsia.

Put out some nectar feeders

Put out clean nectar feeders containing homemade nectar (or sugar water). Just make sure you have more of them (so they won’t have to fight off other birds) and that they are spaced apart. Make sure your hummingbird feeder is always filled with fresh sugar water.

Built a hummingbird habitat

Building a hummingbird-friendly garden with native plants, trees, and shrubs will ensure that your hummers have everything they need for breeding season, nesting, and eating.

Make sure you have other food sources

Hummingbirds have to eat more than they weigh- every day. So a little bit of nectar just won’t cut it. Make sure your garden also has small insects like gnats and flies that they catch from mid-air of spider webs.

Give your hummingbird a water source

Whether it comes to sprinklers or just a bird bath, make sure your hummer has a place to lounge or play around and, of course… hydrate!

Stay away from pesticides and herbicides.

They can be toxic for hummingbirds and insects – one of their primary food sources. Many scientists and ornithologists recommend leaving natural environments alone so that the impact to the hummingbird species is minimal.

Hummingbirds are the second largest group of avian species on the plant – make sure to help protect them by conserving their habitats.


Alexandra has a deep love for the natural world. She likes to experience it fully but also loves learning about the science behind it. She has a special relationship with hummingbirds and enjoys witnessing their beauty and grace whenever she’s out.

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