Types of Hummingbirds in New Jersey: Common and Rare Species

New Jersey, often known for its bustling cities and picturesque landscapes, is also home to a vibrant community of hummingbirds. These tiny creatures, with their iridescent feathers and incredible agility, bring a touch of enchantment to the Garden State. In this article, we’ll delve into the fascinating world of hummingbirds in New Jersey, exploring their species, behavior, migration patterns, and the importance of creating a welcoming environment for these delicate wonders.

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

The species of hummingbirds in New Jersey

New Jersey is home to several types of hummingbirds, each with its unique characteristics. The most common species found in the state include the Ruby-throated Hummingbird, Rufous Hummingbird, and Black-chinned Hummingbird. 

Extremely rare sightings of the Calliope Hummingbird, Allen’s Hummingbird, Broad-tailed Hummingbird, and the Mexican Violetear have been recorded in New Jersey as a young bird may get lost on its migration journey.

Ruby-throated Hummingbird

Scientific Name: Archilochus colibris  Size: 3.8 inches

Description And Field Marks

The most common hummingbird species in eastern North America is the ruby-throated Hummingbird. Tiny, brightly colored bird with a huge bill. The adult male has a bright green back with a ruby red throat and a black facial stripe. Ruby-throated females are 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 very 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. It’s the smallest breeding bird and the only breeding hummingbird in New Jersey. 


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 source 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 New Jersey. They arrive in late April and stay until late summer. It is easy to identify because of its iridescent bright colors and the fact that it can hover like a helicopter while feeding.

Song And Call

Rufous Hummingbird

Scientific Name: Selasphorus rufus  Size:3.5-4 inches

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.


Rufous Hummingbirds breed in various habitats across western North America, including open woodlands, mountainous areas, and coastal regions.

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.

The rufous hummingbird is rare in New Jersey but can be spotted during the winter months.

Call And Song

Black-Chinned Hummingbird

Scientific Name: Archilochus alexandri Size: 3.5 to 4 inches

Description And Field Marks

The male black-chinned hummingbird has a glossy dark green or blackish throat, which gives it its name. When the light hits the throat at the right angle, it may appear iridescent with shades of purple or violet. The upperparts are green, while the underparts are pale gray or white. The tail feathers are dark with white tips, creating a noticeable pattern during flight.

Female black-chinned hummingbirds have a more subtle appearance. They typically lack the dark throat of the males and have a plain pale gray or white throat and underparts. The upperparts are green, similar to the males.


Black-chinned hummingbirds nest in shrubs, trees, or other vegetation. The nest is built by the female and is small and compact, resembling a cup or cone shape.

The female lays two tiny eggs, which are about the size of jelly beans. She incubates the eggs, taking turns to keep them warm and leaving the nest periodically to feed. The incubation period lasts 14 to 19 days. Once the eggs hatch, both the male and female are involved in feeding and caring for the young hummingbirds. The young birds remain in the nest for about 18 to 23 days until they fledge.


The diet of the black-chinned hummingbird primarily consists of nectar from flowers, but they also consume small insects and spiders for additional nutrients.


The black-chinned hummingbird breeds in western parts of North America, including the western United States and parts of Mexico.

Although mostly seen and common in the western states you can occasionally see them in New Jersey during the winter months.

Call And Wingbeat

Historical Hummingbird Sightings In New Jersey – 4 Rare Visitors

Sightings of the hummingbirds listed in this section are of vagrants, not migrants, to New Jersey but accidental visitors. These are birds that find themselves here after large storms, weather incidents, or other “acts of God” that happen here or in another region.

Extremely rare sightings of the Calliope Hummingbird, Allen’s Hummingbird, Broad-tailed Hummingbirds, and the Mexican Violetears have been recorded in New Jersey. They are a rare occurrence, often a single bird but sometimes a small group. The majority of these lost souls are first-year hatchlings or juvenile birds. 

Calliope Humminbird
Allen’s Hummingbird
Broad-tailed Hummingbird
Mexican Violetear

These hummingbird vagrants show up at nectar feeders that have been kept out later in the season than usual (September-October or even longer). The homeowners who maintain these feeders go to extraordinary lengths to keep these little southern birds alive should they be found in New Jersey when cold and winter sets in.

Hummingbird Facts & Fun Stuff

  • A flock of hummingbirds is called a bouquet, a glittering, a shimmer, a hover, or a tune.
  • Hummingbirds are unique in the bird world in that their wings are only attached to the bodies at the shoulder joints, which is how they can beat them so quickly and maneuver forwards and backward so deftly.
  • Their short legs and tiny feet make it almost impossible to walk or hop, so it’s very rare to find one on the ground. Instead, look at the ends of bare smaller tree branches to find them resting.

Attracting Hummingbirds To Your Yard

Hummingbirds love tubular flowers like Hummingbird Vine and Cardinal Flower (Lobelia) among many others. The brighter the petals, the more they are attracted, especially to colors like red and orange. A few more plants that attract hummingbirds are Lupines, Penstemon, Columbine, Delphinium, Salvia, Honeysuckle, and Foxglove.

Hummingbirds will also go to plants that attract butterflies like Butterfly Bush, Bee Balm (Monarda), and Butterfly Weed (Asclepias).

A good way to attract hummingbirds is with an inexpensive hummingbird feeder. It doesn’t matter if it’s glass or plastic, it is often a container that is ringed with brightly-colored plastic or metal “flower” ports so that the birds can sip the nectar inside the container just like they would take it from a flower.

A word on the nectar for your feeders – whether you buy it already mixed in liquid form, use a commercially-made mix, or do it yourself – No Red Dye, please! While people have been using red nectar for years, there can be issues causing problems for the birds. Keep it simple. Keep it natural.

Make your own nectar. Nectar is a basic sugar water mixture – One part granulated (white cane) sugar to 4 parts water (one-quarter cup of sugar to 1 cup of water). Heat the water slightly to assist in dissolving the sugar, but don’t boil it. Stir until the sugar is dissolved and then remove from the heat and set aside to cool completely before filling your feeders.

During Spring and Fall migrations, a stronger solution of 3 parts water to 1 part sugar will make a higher-calorie version of the nectar. This will give additional energy when the hummingbirds need it most.

The Best Place To See Hummingbirds In New Jersey

The best place to see hummingbirds in New Jersey is right in your yard, from your windows. You will most likely attract the most common hummingbirds in the state – the Ruby-throated Hummingbird. But be prepared for unexpected visitors.

While you can plan and plant your hummingbird garden and then place your feeder, it takes time for those pollinator-attracting native plants to establish themselves. 

While you’re waiting for them to put down roots, you can start by using individual plants in pots – annuals like fuchsia and petunias and one or two of the perennials you’ve chosen. Make your nectar and set up that feeder.


Hummingbirds in New Jersey offer a glimpse into the delicate and extraordinary world of these tiny wonders. From their dazzling plumage to their remarkable migration journeys, these birds captivate the hearts of birdwatchers and nature enthusiasts alike. By creating a hummingbird-friendly habitat and supporting conservation initiatives, we can ensure that future generations can continue to marvel at the beauty and resilience of these enchanting creatures in the Garden State. For more information about birding you can contact New Jersey Audubon Society.

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