Hummingbirds in Michigan: Common and rare with Pictures

In the midst of Michigan’s lush landscapes and vibrant gardens, there exists a realm of enchantment that flits and hovers, adding a touch of iridescence to the state’s natural tapestry. Welcome to the world of hummingbirds – the tiny, ethereal creatures that bring joy to backyard enthusiasts and nature lovers alike.

While the Ruby-throated Hummingbird claims the title of Michigan’s resident hummingbird, the state is also graced with occasional visits from other dazzling species during their migratory journeys. Join us as we explore the delicate and mesmerizing world of hummingbirds in Michigan, uncovering their secrets, migration wonders, and the simple joys they bring to our gardens and hearts.

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

Types Of Hummingbirds In Michigan

There are 7 species of hummingbirds in Michigan that you can see in the Great Lake State with the Ruby-throated Hummingbird being the most common and a regulator visitor to Michigan. During migration, the Rufous Hummingbird can be spotted on occasion especially if you leave your nectar feeders out. Other rare guests include the Anna’s Hummingbird, Broad-billed Hummingbird, White-eared hummingbird, Costa’s Hummingbird, and the Mexican Violetear.

These tiny birds are fascinating to watch. Here is a description of the Hummingbirds found in Michigan:

1. Ruby-throated hummingbird


Scientific Name: Archilochus colibris Size: 3.8 inches

Description And Field Marks

Appearing in late April to the first week of May but are more commonly seen during the summer months. Males are bright green with a ruby-red throat and a black facial stripe; the female is bright green above with a white throat. Fast fliers that appear like large bees while in flight.

The hummingbird is one of the few birds that can fly at night because it has excellent eyesight. It uses its long bill to catch insects to eat.

It can fly up to 35 miles per hour. These tiny birds can fly up, down, sideways, and even backward.


The Hummingbird’s nest is tiny, about 2 inches wide and 1 inch deep. It is made in trees about 40 feet high on branches out of thistle, spider silk, and pine resin. It takes the female a little over a week to make.

The female usually lays 2 tiny white eggs. The incubation period is 12-14 days and the young remain in the nest between 18 and 22 days.


Hummingbirds love bright flowers, and they have Hummingbird bushes that will attract them to your backyard. They will come to special Hummingbird feeders with nectar which is white sugar and water. They sell the nectar in stores, but you can also make it yourself.

Please don’t buy the red colored one as it can be harmful to the birds.


Everyone loves to see hummingbirds in their backyards. The Ruby-throated hummingbird is the most common species in Michigan. It is easy to identify because of its iridescent red throat and the fact that it can hover like a helicopter while feeding.

Call And Wingbeat

2. Rufous Hummingbird

Scientific Name: Selasphorus rufus        Size:3.5-4 inches

Known for their remarkable long-distance flights, these migrants have rich rufous-colored plumage and bright orange-red throats.

Description And Field Marks

Rufous Hummingbirds are known for their aggressive and territorial nature, often chasing away larger birds and other hummingbirds from their feeding areas.

The male Rufous Hummingbird has striking and vibrant plumage. Their upperparts are a mix of bright coppery-orange, rufous, and green, which glitters in sunlight. The throat is a vivid iridescent orange-red color, making it a key identifying feature. The underparts are mostly white with a rufous wash on the sides and flanks. Females are less colorful, with greenish upperparts and a rufous-washed breast.


Rufous Hummingbirds construct small, cup-shaped nests made of plant materials, spider webs, and lichens. The female lays two pea-sized eggs and incubates them for about two weeks. After hatching, the female continues to care for the chicks until they are ready to fledge, usually around three weeks after hatching.


Their primary diet consists of nectar from a variety of flowering plants. They also consume small insects and spiders.


One of the remarkable features of the Rufous Hummingbird is its long-distance migration. In the spring and summer, they breed in western North America, from southern Alaska to the Pacific Northwest and as far south as California. In the fall, they embark on a remarkable journey to their wintering grounds in Mexico and Central America, sometimes covering thousands of miles during their migration. This is when you may have an opportunity to see them in Michigan.

call and song

3. Broad-billed Hummingbird

Scientific name: Selasphorus platycercus          Size: 3.3 to 4 inches

Description and Field Marks

The Broad-billed Hummingbird is a distinctive and colorful hummingbird species known for its broad and flat bill. Adult males have vibrant plumage featuring an iridescent green back and crown. One of the key field marks is the unique, bright blue-violet throat, forming a gorget, and the contrasting fiery orange-red bill. Females, while less vibrant, also have a notable green back and crown, but their throat is a pale gray or whitish color.


The Broad-billed Hummingbird primarily feeds on nectar from various flowering plants. In addition to nectar, they may also consume small insects and spiders,


This hummingbird species is native to parts of the southwestern United States and Mexico. Broad-billed Hummingbirds are often found in arid and semi-arid habitats, including desert scrub, canyons, and gardens with flowering plants.

An exceptional rarity in Michigan, Broad-bills are not known for long-distance migrations, so what were they doing so far out of their normal range? That’s the thing about rarities – sometimes they stay for days and other times they’re just passing through – who knows?

call and song

4. Anna’s Hummingbirds

Scientific Name: Calypte anna    Size: 3.9-4.3 inches

Description And Field Marks

Anna’s Hummingbirds have long, straight bills and their tails are short with the outer feathers being slightly rounded.

Males have striking iridescent plumage with a vibrant, metallic green back and crown. The throat is a stunning magenta or rose-red color, which sparkles in the sunlight. The rest of their underparts are a pale grayish-white. The outer tail feathers are dark, while the inner ones are white. Females have similar plumage but with muted colors, primarily featuring green, gray, and white, and they lack the brilliant throat patch.


Their primary diet consists of nectar from a wide range of flowering plants, including tubular-shaped flowers that are well-suited for their long bills. In addition to nectar, they also consume small insects and spiders for essential proteins and nutrients.


These birds are known for their agile and acrobatic flight, capable of hovering in mid-air and darting quickly from one location to another.

Anna’s Hummingbirds are highly adaptable and can be found in various habitats, including coastal areas, gardens, parks, and wooded canyons. They are native to the western parts of North America and are rare in Michigan.

Call and Wingbeat

5. Costa’s Hummingbird

Scientific Name: Calypte costae    Size 3.5 inches

Description and Field Marks

Costa’s Hummingbird is a small and distinctive hummingbird species known for its vibrant colors. Adult males display an iridescent purple crown and gorget (throat patch), which can appear almost black in certain lighting. The rest of the body is generally bright green, creating a striking contrast. The tail feathers are long and deeply forked, with iridescent violet edges. In flight, the bright violet coloration of the gorget is particularly eye-catching.

Females and young males have a more subdued appearance with green plumage and a smaller, less vibrant gorget. Both sexes have a white line above the eye, enhancing their facial features.


The Costa’s Hummingbird primarily feeds on nectar obtained from various flowering plants. They also consume small insects and spiders, providing essential protein for their diet.


Costa’s Hummingbirds are native to the southwestern United States and northwestern Mexico. They are well adapted to desert environments with habitats featuring agave, ocotillo, and other desert plants that provide both food and suitable nesting sites.

Costa’s Hummingbirds are known for their resilience in harsh climates and their ability to thrive in various landscapes. They are extremely rare in Michigan but an occasion accidental visitor can be spotted if you are lucky.

Song and Call

6. White-eared Hummingbird

Scientific Name:  Hylocharis leucotis  Size 3.5-3.9 inches

Description and Field Marks

The White-eared Hummingbird adult males are known for their striking white stripe that extends behind the eye, contrasting with their iridescent green plumage. They also have a white patch on the ear and a vibrant violet or purple throat. The tail feathers may have some violet or blue markings, adding to the overall beauty of these birds.

Female White-eared Hummingbirds generally lack the vibrant throat coloration, and their plumage is more subdued compared to males.


Like many hummingbirds, the White-eared Hummingbird primarily feeds on nectar from various flowering plants and may also consume small insects and spiders, adding protein to their diet.


White-eared Hummingbirds are native to mountainous regions and are often found in montane forests, cloud forests, and other high-altitude habitats with abundant flowering vegetation. During the breeding season, they may establish territories in these high-altitude environments, where they can find suitable nesting sites and ample food resources.

They are extremely rare in Michigan and considered an accidental visitor.

Call and Song

7. Mexican Violetears

Mexican Violetear

Scientific Name: Colibri thalassinus    Size 3.8-4.7 inches

Description and Field Marks

The Mexican Violetear is a striking hummingbird species known for its vibrant plumage. Adult males have iridescent green-blue plumage on their upperparts, while the throat and breast exhibit a stunning violet or purple coloration, forming a distinct gorget. The crown of the head is often a deeper blue-green, creating a captivating contrast. The wings are dark, and the tail is typically forked with blue-green central feathers. Females tend to have more subdued plumage, lacking the vibrant throat colors seen in males.


The Mexican Violetear primarily feeds on nectar obtained from a variety of flowering plants. They also may consume small insects and spiders, supplementing their diet with protein. Their feeding behavior involves hovering near flowers and using their agility in flight to reach and extract nectar from different floral sources.


This hummingbird species is native to mountainous regions and is often found in cloud forests, montane forests, and other high-altitude habitats. During the breeding season, they establish territories in these high-altitude environments, where they can find suitable nesting sites and ample food resources. They are a rare accidental visitor in Michigan.



Creating a Hummingbird Haven in Your Backyard

To lure hummingbirds to your garden create feeding stations by starting with ahigh-nectar-producing flowers like bee balm, columbine, or foxglove. Choose plants that bloom at different times to provide a continuous food source throughout the season. Set up feeders filled with a sugar-water solution—four parts water to one part white sugar—to supplement their diet. Ensure to clean these feeders every few days to prevent mold and bacteria growth, which can harm the birds.

Arrange the feeders and plants strategically around your yard to provide shelter and perching spots. Trees and shrubs offer resting areas and protection from the elements and predators. Provide a water source, such as a shallow birdbath or a dripping water feature, which will not only quench their thirst but can also entice them to stay longer for a refreshing bath.

Avoid using pesticides or herbicides in your garden, as these chemicals can be toxic to hummingbirds and their food sources. Opt for natural pest control solutions to keep your garden safe and hummingbird-friendly. By following these steps, you can transform your backyard into a delightful retreat for these captivating birds.

Feasts for Fluttering Wings: Hummingbird Nutrition

You can play a vital role in supporting the health and energy of Michigan’s hummingbirds by providing food that meets their high metabolic needs. These tiny flyers require a diet rich in sugar water to maintain their rapid wing flaps – flower nectar and hummingbird feeders serve as their primary food source.

  • Nectar Feeders: Opt for bright red feeders with multiple feeding ports to mimic the natural appeal of flowers. Avoid those with yellow accents, as they may attract bees.
  • Nectar Solution: Create a homemade nectar by dissolving one part white sugar in four parts boiling water. Let it cool before filling the feeder. Never use honey or artificial sweeteners; these can harm the birds.
  • Cleanliness Is Key: Clean feeders thoroughly every few days using hot water and a brush to prevent mold growth. In hot weather, more frequent cleaning may be necessary.
  • No Dyes Needed: Skip the red food coloring in your nectar; the feeder itself provides enough color attraction, and dyes could be harmful to the birds.
  • Consistent Supply: Keep feeders filled for regular visitors, especially during peak hummingbird migration times in spring and fall when hummingbirds need ample energy for their long journeys.

By following these steps, you not only offer a vital food source for hummingbirds but also create an opportunity to witness the beauty of their daily life right in your backyard.

The Blooming Buffet: Best Flowers for Hummingbirds

  • Bee Balm (Monarda didyma): Its vibrant red flowers are a magnet for hummingbirds. Thriving in sun or part shade, this plant also adds a delightful fragrance to your garden.
  • Trumpet Vine (Campsis radicans): A vigorous grower, this vine produces clusters of orange to red trumpet-shaped flowers that hummingbirds can’t resist.
  • Cardinal Flower (Lobelia cardinalis): The striking red spikes of the cardinal flower stand out in any garden, offering rich nectar for visiting hummingbirds.
  • Columbine (Aquilegia canadensis): This charming flower bears unique, elongated nectar spurs, and its shades of red and yellow draw hummingbirds throughout the blooming season.
  • Wild Bergamot (Monarda fistulosa): Preferring dappled sunlight, this relative of bee balm provides a feast for the eyes with its lavender blooms, as well as a feast for hummingbirds.
  • Red Buckeye (Aesculus pavia): Boasting bold spikes of red flowers, red buckeye is a hummingbird favorite and is perfect for adding a touch of drama to your landscape.
  • Foxglove (Digitalis purpurea): With tubular flowers that come in a variety of colors, foxgloves are an alluring choice for any hummingbird garden.
  • Sage (Salvia spp.): Offering a range of hybrids suitable for Michigan climates, sages have tubular flowers in shades of red, purple, and blue, ideal for nectar-seeking hummingbirds.
  • Butterfly Weed (Asclepias tuberosa): As part of the milkweed family, this sun-loving plant features clustered orange flowers that serve as a great food source for hummingbirds.
  • Penstemon (Penstemon digitalis): This native plant, also known as beardtongue, sports tube-shaped flowers that hummingbirds find irresistible.

Tips for Observing Hummingbirds

Embark on the journey to become a seasoned observer of Michigan’s hummingbirds. Focus on the early mornings, when these vibrant creatures are most active, or await dusk when they engage in a final bout of feeding before nightfall. Maintain a respectful distance to minimize stress on the birds and retain the purity of their natural behavior.

Jot down your sightings in a dedicated birdwatching journal, documenting the nuances of color, behavior, and the environments hummingbirds favor. This practice not only enhances your birdwatching experience but also contributes valuable data to local conservation groups. Thrive in your commitment to witness these winged marvels and their acrobatics in the sky. Let your gaze be gentle and your presence light among Michigan’s fluttering jewels.


Michigan’s hummingbirds perform with grace, adding a splash of speed and color to our gardens. These tiny dynamos play a vital role in pollination, bringing life to your backyard with each visit.

You have the power to make a difference for these avian wonders; setting up feeders, planting native flowers, and engaging in responsible observation all contribute to their well-being.

Join the collective effort to nurture their habitat, ensuring these mesmerizing creatures embellish Michigan skies for years to come.

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