Hummingbirds in Alaska (With Pictures)

Hummingbirds in Alaska (With Pictures)

Hummingbirds, those mesmerizing avian acrobats traditionally associated with tropical paradises, are increasingly becoming a common sight in the seemingly unlikely wilderness of Alaska. This article delves into the fascinating world of Alaska’s hummingbirds, focusing on the single species that defy the odds by making the northernmost state their breeding ground.

Despite Alaska’s harsh winters and short summers, these tiny birds, known for their iridescent feathers and rapid wingbeats, have adapted remarkably well to the conditions. The Rufous Hummingbird, in particular, embarks on a monumental migration from the warmer climes of Mexico, traversing thousands of miles to reach Alaska each spring.

This journey is not only a testament to their incredible endurance but also highlights their importance in the ecosystem as pollinators of native flora. The presence of hummingbirds in Alaska challenges our perceptions of where these birds can live and thrive, offering a captivating glimpse into the adaptability and resilience of nature.

Rufous Hummingbird

  • Scientific name: Selasphorus rufus
  • Life span: 3-5 years
  • Size: 2.75-3.75 in
  • Weight: 2.5-4.5 g
  • Wingspan: 3.5-4.3 in
  • Status: Least Concern
  • State status: Breeding and common

Embarking on one of the most remarkable migratory journeys in the avian world, the Rufous Hummingbird is a species that captivates with both its audacity and beauty. With a geographical range that stretches from the warm climes of Mexico to the verdant expanses of Alaska, this tiny dynamo defies the elements to breed in the northernmost reaches of its range.

The Rufous Hummingbird is distinguished by its vibrant orange-brown plumage, which covers most of its body, contrasting strikingly with the white of its underparts. Males are particularly notable for their iridescent red throat patch, which shimmers in the sunlight like a jewel. This bird’s appearance is not just for show; it plays a crucial role in territorial displays and mate attraction during the breeding season.

Rufous Hummingbird

The Rufous Hummingbird’s presence across various habitats, from dense forests to suburban gardens, showcases its adaptability and the broad appeal of its dazzling plumage.

The Rufous Hummingbird exhibits unique nesting habits that are essential for its survival in various environments. Females are solely responsible for nest construction, choosing sites that offer protection and camouflage, such as dense foliage or branches in open woods.

The nests, remarkably small and cup-shaped, are built using plant down, spider silk, and bits of moss, materials that allow the nest to expand as the chicks grow. This construction strategy ensures thermal insulation and safety from predators.

The nest’s location, often on a low, slender branch, minimizes exposure to threats, illustrating the species’ adaptability and instinctual knowledge in nurturing its offspring in challenging habitats.

The diet of the Rufous Hummingbird primarily consists of nectar and insects, supporting its high-energy lifestyle. They favour the nectar from brightly coloured flowers, utilizing their hovering ability to feed.

Rufous Hummingbird

This nectar provides the quick energy needed for their rapid wing movement and long-distance migration. In addition to nectar, Rufous Hummingbirds consume small insects and spiders, which offer essential proteins and fats. This mixed diet is crucial during breeding season, supporting the nutritional needs of females and their young.

The Rufous Hummingbird’s feeding habits highlight the importance of diverse and healthy ecosystems that can support a wide range of floral and insect life.

The Rufous Hummingbird is facing challenges due to habitat loss, climate change, and other environmental pressures, leading to declines in some populations. Conservation efforts are aimed at addressing these threats through habitat restoration, research, and public engagement. Projects include planting native flowering plants, studying migration patterns, and monitoring population trends to understand the impacts of environmental changes.

These efforts are critical for maintaining healthy populations of Rufous Hummingbirds, as they play a vital role in pollination and ecosystem health. Conservation initiatives for the Rufous Hummingbird also contribute to broader biodiversity conservation goals, highlighting the interconnectedness of species and their habitats.

Where to look for Hummingbirds in Alaska

In Alaska, the quest to spot the Rufous Hummingbird can lead to breathtaking locales, each offering a unique backdrop for this wildlife adventure. To maximize your chances of encountering these vibrant creatures, timing and location are key.

The best period to observe these hummingbirds in Alaska is from late April through September, when they migrate to this region for breeding. Early morning or late afternoon, when hummingbirds are most actively feeding, are the ideal times to catch a glimpse of these birds.

  • The Southeastern Coastal Rainforests: This region is a prime habitat for hummingbirds in Alaska. The lush, dense forests and abundant flower gardens in towns like Sitka and Ketchikan provide perfect feeding and nesting grounds.
  • Anchorage and Surrounding Areas: The city’s gardens, parks, and greenbelts, such as the Alaska Botanical Garden, attract hummingbirds with their wide variety of blooming flowers.
  • Kenai Peninsula: Offering a mix of coastal areas, rivers, and forests, the Kenai Peninsula is another excellent spot. Areas around Homer and Seward are particularly favoured by these birds for their rich floral diversity.
  • Fairbanks and the Interior: While it might seem surprising, the gardens and parks of Fairbanks also see hummingbirds. Creamer’s Field Migratory Waterfowl Refuge is a notable spot where they can be observed.

For those eager to witness the beauty of hummingbirds in Alaska, setting up feeders filled with sugar water can attract them to your location. Additionally, visiting local botanical gardens or participating in birdwatching tours can increase your chances of seeing these magnificent birds up close.


The presence of the Rufous Hummingbirds in Alaska offers a unique glimpse into the resilience and adaptability of nature. Despite facing environmental challenges, these vibrant creatures thrive, thanks to their remarkable nesting behaviours, diverse diet, and the concerted conservation efforts aimed at protecting their habitats.

The story of Alaska’s hummingbirds is a compelling reminder of the importance of biodiversity and the need for continued stewardship of our natural world.

Join the discussion