Types of Hummingbirds in Pennsylvania with Pictures

Pennsylvania, with its diverse landscapes and vibrant ecosystems, plays host to a remarkable array of wildlife. Among the most enchanting and elusive visitors are hummingbirds, delicate creatures that grace our skies with their iridescent beauty and remarkable aerial acrobatics. As the Keystone State transitions through the seasons, these tiny, jewel-toned birds embark on incredible journeys, captivating birdwatchers and nature enthusiasts alike.

Let’s delve into the world of hummingbirds in Pennsylvania, exploring the species that call the state home, the best ways to attract them to your backyard, and the fascinating behaviors that make them a wonder of the avian world. Whether you’re an avid birder seeking to expand your knowledge or a casual observer enchanted by the fluttering wings and vibrant hues, join us on a journey into the enchanting realm of hummingbirds in the heart of Pennsylvania.

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

Hummingbirds In Pennsylvania

Ruby-Throated Hummingbirds

Scientific Name: archilochus colubris  Size: 3.8 inches

Description And Field Marks

The most common hummingbirds on the East Coast are the ruby-throated hummingbirds. The males are particularly striking with their namesake feature: a gleaming, iridescent bright red throat that seems to catch every glint of sunlight – a telltale sign of male ruby-throated hummingbirds. This brilliant splash of color isn’t just for beauty, though. It plays a crucial role in their mating displays, as males swoop and dive in the air to catch the eye of a potential mate. 

 The female ruby-throated hummingbird 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. It’s the smallest breeding bird and the only species to breed in Pennsylvania.


Hummingbirds’ diet consists of flower nectar and small insects. They will come to special Hummingbird feeders with a nectar source which is white sugar 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 Pennsylvania. 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 Hummingbirds

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 adult male rufous hummingbirds have striking and vibrant plumage. Their upperparts are a mix of bright coppery-orange, rufous, and green, which glitters in sunlight. It has a vivid iridescent orange-red color throat, 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, there breeding grounds in western North America, from southern Alaska to the Pacific Northwest and the Pacific coast. 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 Pennsylvania but can be spotted during the winter months. The Rufous Hummingbird is not native to Pennsylvania but has been observed during the migration or as a rare vagrant during winter months. These are usually juvenile birds. 

Sightings of Rufous Hummingbirds in Pennsylvania or other eastern states are considered noteworthy because they are outside their typical range.

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 Pennsylvania during the winter months.

Call And Wingbeat

Historical Hummingbird Sightings In Pennsylvania – 3 Rare Visitors

Sightings of the hummingbirds listed in this section are of vagrants, not migrants, to the state of Pennsylvania 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 these western species are the Calliope Hummingbird, Allen’s Hummingbird, and Anna’s Hummingbirds have been recorded in Pennsylvania.  Calliope Hummingbird has been spotted only a few times in winter. Allen’s has had a few rare spotting in the areas around Philadelphia, Hershey, and Lancaster and the Anna has been seen in the southern part of the state a few times. 

It’s important to note that rare and accidental species hummingbird sightings are infrequent, and the presence of a specific species can vary from year to year. Birdwatchers and ornithologists often document and report such rare sightings to contribute to our understanding of bird migration patterns and distribution. If you’re interested in recent sightings, you may want to check with PA Audubon, local birdwatching communities, birding hotlines, or online platforms where birdwatchers share their observations.

Hummingbird Facts

  • 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

Your backyard is the best place to see hummingbirds in Pennsylvania. You can start with adequate water sources such as traditional bird baths. Hummingbirds also adore bathing in the sprinkles, which helps keep their feathers in top condition for deft flying.

You can also supply several food sources. Hummingbirds love tubular flowers like Hummingbird Vine and Cardinal Flower (Lobelia). The brighter the petals, the more they are attracted, especially to colors like red and orange. Other plants that attract hummingbirds are Lupines, Penstemon, Columbine, Delphinium, Morning Glories, Salvia, Honeysuckle, and Foxglove.

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

A good way to attract hummingbirds is with hummingbird nectar feeders. Either glass or plastic, most are ringed with brightly-colored plastic or metal “flower” ports so that the birds can sip the nectar inside the container.

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 natural.

Make your nectar. Nectar is a basic sugar-water mixture – One cup plain white sugar to 4 cups water (one-quarter cup of sugar to 1 cup of water). Heat the water slightly to dissolve 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 migration season, 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.

Hummingbird season in Pennsylvania

The hummingbird season in Pennsylvania typically aligns with the warmer months, spanning from late spring through early fall. The exact timing can vary based on factors such as weather conditions and the specific species of hummingbirds in the region. Here’s a general breakdown of the hummingbird season in Pennsylvania:

  1. Spring Migration: Hummingbirds start arriving in Pennsylvania during the spring migration, usually in late April to early May. The exact timing can depend on factors like temperature and the availability of nectar sources.
  2. Summer Nesting Season: During the summer months, particularly from May to August, hummingbirds are actively engaged in nesting and raising their young. This is a crucial time for observing their behaviors, as females build nests and care for their chicks.
  3. Fall Migration: In the fall, typically from late August through early October, hummingbirds in Pennsylvania begin their southward migration. This is another excellent opportunity to observe them, especially as they fuel up for their long journey to warmer climates.


Hummingbirds in Pennsylvania 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.

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