4 types of Hummingbirds in Maine with pictures

Introduction to Maine’s Hummingbirds

Imagine stepping into the Pine Tree State, where the whispers of wings blend with the rustling of green leaves, beckoning you to a hidden world of avian gems. Picture yourself in the New England haven of Maine, where hummingbirds, those tiny birds bursting with vitality, punctuate the landscape with their vibrant flutters. In Maine, the opportunity to witness these winged wonders isn’t just a possibility—it’s a seasonal spectacle. Foremost among these visitors is the medium-sized hummingbird, the ruby-throated hummingbird, boasting an iridescent red throat and white underparts that glisten in the fleeting Maine summers.

Yet, the diversity doesn’t end with these common backyard companions. During the migration marathon, Maine becomes a temporary rest stop for the rare Rufous Hummingbird (selasphorus rufus) , with its distinct green back, a dash of the southwestern United States in the northeast. Even rarer, the Calliope hummingbird, typically of the Rocky Mountains, graces Maine with its presence, alongside the accidental guest, the Mexican Violetear, with its verdant green feathers—a fleeting glance of Central American zest. These migratory birds are symbols of the changing seasons, from their arrival in late April to their departure come the cold whispers of early May. Maine is more than just a scenic waystation. It’s a rendezvous point for an array of hummingbird species, each one an evocative story of distance and survival.

For more birdwatching in Maine see our articles on backyard birds, hawks, owls, ducks, and woodpeckers.

The Ruby-throated Hummingbird: A Summer Visitor


During the balmy days stretching from late April to the end of September, you’re bestowed with the chance to behold the ruby-throated hummingbirds (archilochus colubris), those shimmering emeralds of the Pine Tree State’s skies. As the most common of its kind in Maine, the male ruby-throated hummingbird boasts a dazzling iridescent red throat in males that captures the light, rivaling any precious gem. Female ruby-throated hummingbirds, demure yet elegant, wear a brilliant green back and a modest white throat, blending seamlessly with the lush New England foliage. It’s the only hummingbird to breed in the state of Maine.

Finding these tiny birds is a joy reserved for the observant. Early May mornings may greet you with a glimpse of them darting across your backyard, their wings are all but invisible as they perform aerial dances around tubular flowers and nectar feeders. Indeed, their fondness for sugar water—mixed at a ratio of 4 parts water to 1 part sugar—makes hummingbird feeders a magnet for these migratory birds. But fret not, the concoction is simple; no elaborate potion, just sweetness mirroring the natural bouquet of nectar they so crave.

As tiny insects form a considerable part of their diet, the presence of a flourishing garden inviting a myriad of bugs ensures these guests’ frequent patronage. When setting out to spot these flying jewels, take note of the females’ breeding season behaviors, for they are bound to be nesting in the shelter of leafy green backdrops. Prepare to be entranced, for the ruby throated hummingbirds bring a dash of enchantment to every Maine backyard they visit.

song and call

Food and Feeders: Nourishing Tiny Birds

Hummingbirds in Maine, that smallest bird with an insatiable sweet tooth, have a hankering for the saccharine reward found in nectar feeders hanging in your tranquil backyard. Step into the enchanting world of these flittering creatures by preparing a homely offering of sugar water—a primary food source that simulates the natural nectar found in native plants and tubular flowers.

To concoct this irresistible concoction, merge four parts water with one part sugar, stirring until the granules fully dissolve, creating a clear elixir. Heating the mixture boosts its clarity but let it cool before extending your hospitality. It’s pivotal to eschew honey or artificial sweeteners, as pure cane sugar is the ticket to a concoction that won’t just attract but will nurture your feathered visitors.

  • Avail a feeder: Choose a hummingbird feeder with red accents to catch their eye, sidestepping feeders that require food coloring in the mixture.
  • Concoct the mixture: Boil the sugar solution to stave off bacteria and mold, allowing the mix to cool before filling your feeders.
  • Cleanliness is cardinal: Ensure your feeder is a bastion of purity, cleansing it twice a week or more often in sweltering weather to prevent the growth of harmful pathogens.
  • Swap regularly: Refresh the sugary mix every few days, ensuring your tiny guests have access to untainted sustenance, eschewing fermentation and spoilage.

Remember, while sugar water marvelously mimics the delectable nectar these small birds earnestly seek, complementing it with a garden brimming with native blooms amplifies your support for their nutritional needs, offering them a buffet of natural food sources.

The Rufous and the Rare: Occasional Feathered Guests

Male Rufous

In Maine, spotting a Rufous Hummingbird is like finding a needle in a haystack, an experience draped with an aura of astonishment. This medium-sized hummingbird, donning a fiery suit of orange-rufous with an iridescent red throat for the males, might grace your backyard and send whispers of the rocky mountains through Maine’s air. And though they claim the southwestern United States as their usual haunt, these migratory birds wing their way through Maine chiefly from October to December, painting a stroke of warm color against the chill.

Rufous Call and song

Even rarer a sight are the Calliope Hummingbird and the Mexican Violetear, tiny birds sparking a rush of excitement with their accidental presence. The Calliope, sporting a bright white throat stippled with magenta and the smallest of its kind, are vagrant hummingbirds, carried to New England’s thresholds perhaps by an unruly gust of wind or an inborn compass inclined to the adventurous. The Mexican Violetear, flitting through Maine with its vibrant green feathers, creates ripples of surprise on the rare occasions it ventures so far from its traditional range in the Pacific coast and southern Mexico. To witness these extraordinary birds, one must be vigilant during the fleeting moments they stray into Maine’s landscape, usually when the forests are ablaze with autumn hues or when a hint of winter whispers in the air.

Creating a Hummingbird Haven

To turn your slice of the Pine Tree State into a hummingbird’s paradise, you need to go beyond the sugar water haven of nectar feeders. Start by draping your garden with native plants—these are the floral beacons that call out to these tiny birds, be they migratory visitors or the rarer accidental species. Opt for tubular flowers rich in hue and heartiness; their shape is a siren song for hummingbirds, allowing for an easy dip of their slender bills into the nectar-rich depths.

Incorporate plants like bee balm, columbine, or trumpet vine to provide a bounty more tempting than any man-made concoction. Remember, these small birds need more than just sugar to thrive; small insects found among green leaves and petals are just as crucial, rounding out a diet fit for these feisty fliers.

Draw in hummingbirds of all feathers—whether it’s the green-backed glamour of the ruby-throated regulars or the rare glimpses of green feathers caught on the wing of a southwest vagrant. Approach your garden design with a green thumb enlightened by the ways of the wild—with a mix of flowering plants and the right kind of feeders, you’ll craft a haven not just for the joy of sighting, but for the sustenance and survival of these iridescent wonders.

It’s a harmonious balance, dancing on the delicate line between the wild heart of Maine and the domesticated corners of your own backyard. Make it a sanctuary, both for the early May arrivals and for those who might surprise you by the turn of autumn’s leaf. Each flower planted, each green space cultivated, sews a stronger thread into the fabric of their migratory tapestry, ensuring seasons of beauty and grace to come.

Adapting to the Seasons: Arrival and Departure

Late April whispers the return of migratory birds to the Pine Tree State, rejoicing the arrival of tiny, winged jewels glinting in the sunlight. You, along with numerous bird enthusiasts, witness the sky dance of ruby-throated hummingbirds as they reclaim their summer residences. With their iridescent red throats flashing, males vividly announce their presence, initiating the breeding season which sets the backyard abuzz with avian activity.

These small birds with green backs become a staple in New England’s spring tapestry as they seek out native plants bedecked with tubular flowers, savoring the sweet nectar which serves as their primary food source. Armed with your knowledge on crafting the perfect ratio of parts water to parts sugar, your hummingbird feeders stand ready—enticing these winged wonders to fuel up on sugar water before the arduous task of raising the next generation.

As you become attuned to their presence, marking the full swing of early May on your calendar, you observe the delicate intricacies of hummingbird life; the females diligently crafting nests the size of a walnut shell, tucked away amidst the foliage. But as all seasons flutter by, the end of summer nudges the hummingbirds towards their winter retreats. September’s cool fingers prompt their departure, leaving behind the memory of their flits and dives—a seasonal ballet that waits to be rejoined with the return of spring’s warm embrace.

Fond Farewell to the Flutters

Observing the hummingbirds in Maine isn’t merely a hobby; it’s an enriching experience that tethers you to the web of life. Each sugar water feeder you fill, and every native flower you plant, contributes to their journey, aiding these tiny travelers in the significant voyage laying ahead. You’re not just a spectator but an active participant in the conservation of a species that, despite its size, has a monumental impact on our understanding of tenacity and grace.

As the hummingbirds wing past the Pine Tree State’s horizon, remember the joy that their presence brings throughout the warmer months. It’s this joy that kindles the spirit of backyard birding—a pastime that connects us to the wild tapestry of our world. Treasure these moments, and await their return with anticipation and a readiness to welcome once more the whispers of wings in your backyard. Cherish and support their existence, and you’ll find that even in their absence, the promise of their return fills the garden with an invisible flutter.

To find out what hummingbirds visited Maine in the past year see the Maine Audubon.

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