Hummingbirds in Idaho (With Pictures)

Hummingbirds in Idaho (With Pictures)

Nestled within the heart of the American West, the picturesque state of Idaho is a treasure trove of natural wonders. Amidst its rugged mountains, pristine lakes, and sprawling forests, a vibrant avian spectacle unfolds each year with the arrival of hummingbirds. These enchanting, jewel-like creatures, renowned for their iridescent plumage and astonishing agility, grace the grace Idaho’s landscapes.

In this article, we embark on a captivating journey into the world of hummingbirds in Idaho. From the vibrant Rufous Hummingbird, known for its remarkable migratory journey, to the petite Calliope Hummingbird, one of the tiniest birds on the continent, we’ll explore the unique species that call the Gem State home, if only temporarily.

Discover their remarkable behaviors, from dazzling courtship displays to the intricacies of their nesting habits. We’ll also delve into the critical role that these charismatic birds play in Idaho’s ecosystems, from pollinating wildflowers to sustaining the delicate balance of the natural world.

1. Broad-Tailed Hummingbird

  • Scientific name: Selasphorus platycercus
  • Life span: 7-12 years
  • Size: 3.5-4.3 in
  • Weight: 3-5 g
  • Wingspan: 4.7-5.5 in
  • Status: Least Concern           
  • State status: Migratory and rare

Venturing into the mountainous regions of western North America, the Broad-Tailed Hummingbird graces us with its vibrant presence. Sporting emerald green plumage, males feature a velvety rose-pink throat patch that shimmers in the sunlight.

Their geographical range spans from the Rockies to Mexico, where they navigate dense forests and alpine meadows. Their distinctive trill-like hum during flight adds to the sensory delight of encountering these high-country gems.

A Broad-Tailed Hummingbird sitting on a branch

The female, with instinctive precision, crafts her nest on a tree limb or in a shrub, using a blend of plant fibers, spider silk, and bits of bark. This nest, a tiny fortress, is both sturdy and elastic, safeguarding her eggs and later, her growing chicks. Her devotion to her nest, a blend of tenacity and tenderness, is a natural wonder, showcasing the extraordinary instincts of motherhood in the wild.

The Broad-tailed Hummingbird’s diet is a vibrant testament to nature’s interconnectivity. Darting from blossom to blossom, this bird indulges in nectar, its primary source of sustenance, playing a vital role in pollination.

This nectar feast is interspersed with small insects and spiders, adding essential proteins to its diet. The bird’s feeding ritual, a blend of grace and agility, underscores its crucial role in the ecosystem, weaving a delicate balance between survival and the perpetuation of floral life.

The conservation story of the Broad-tailed Hummingbird is a tapestry of human impact and ecological resilience. These birds, navigating the challenges of habitat alteration and climate change, are at the heart of conservation efforts.

Initiatives focus on preserving natural habitats, advocating for the cultivation of native plants, and understanding their migratory behaviors. Each conservation effort, from research to habitat restoration, is a stride toward ensuring that the Broad-tailed Hummingbird’s melody continues to enchant the Idaho wilds.

2. Black-Chinned Hummingbird

  • Scientific name: Archilochus alexandri
  • Life span: 3-6 years
  • Size: 3-4 in
  • Weight: 2.5-4.5 g
  • Wingspan: 4.3-5.1 in
  • Status: Least Concern           
  • State status: Breeding and common

In the American Southwest, the Black-Chinned Hummingbird reigns as a diminutive monarch of the arid landscapes. As its name suggests, it sports a glossy black chin that sets off its shimmering green and white plumage.

This enchanting species’ range extends from Mexico to the western United States, where it flits among desert flora and mountain meadows. Its iridescent throat patch adds a touch of amethyst brilliance, making it a prized sighting for those exploring the region’s sun-drenched habitats.

A Black-Chinned Hummingbird in flight

The Black-Chinned Hummingbird, a graceful denizen of Idaho’s skies, displays a remarkable approach to nesting. The female selects a tree branch, often overhanging water, and meticulously crafts a compact nest using plant fibers, spider silk, and bits of moss. This nest, artfully camouflaged, is a testament to her architectural prowess.

The dedication of the mother, as she nurtures her eggs and later, her hatchlings, is a heartwarming spectacle of avian devotion and maternal instinct.

The Black-Chinned Hummingbird, with its delicate grace, is a connoisseur of nectar. Darting with precision, it feeds on a variety of flowers, each sip a delicate ballet between bird and bloom. This diet is supplemented by insects and spiders, providing essential proteins.

The bird’s foraging habits are a captivating display of agility and precision, a reminder of the intricate web of life where each creature plays its unique role in the ecosystem.

In the conservation story of the Black-Chinned Hummingbird, we see a blend of challenges and triumphs. These birds, adaptable yet sensitive to environmental changes, face threats from habitat destruction and pesticide use. Conservationists are advocating for garden plantings and reduced pesticide use to aid their survival.

Each small action, from planting native flowers to supporting habitat conservation, weaves into a larger narrative of hope and determination to protect these delicate yet resilient creatures.

3. Calliope Hummingbird

  • Scientific name: Selasphorus calliope
  • Life span: 3-7 years
  • Size: 2.75-3.25 in
  • Weight: 2-4 g
  • Wingspan: 3.5-4.3 in
  • Status: Least Concern           
  • State status: Breeding and common

The Calliope Hummingbird, a sprite of the mountainous West, is the smallest breeding bird in North America. With its striking magenta throat feathers and intricate green plumage, this dainty wonder captivates all who are fortunate enough to witness it.

Found primarily in the high elevations of western North America, from Alaska to the Sierra Nevada mountains, this bird flits among alpine wildflowers, sipping nectar from delicate blossoms. Its minuscule size and vibrant colors make it a true gem of the mountains.

A Calliope Hummingbird drinking nectar in flight

The Calliope Hummingbird, North America’s smallest avian marvel, showcases a nesting behavior that is both delicate and determined. The female single-handedly constructs a petite nest on a tree limb or shrub, using plant down and spider silk, creating a soft yet strong cradle for her eggs. This tiny, camouflaged nest is a testament to her ingenuity and perseverance, a cozy haven for her future offspring, nestled securely against the whims of nature.

In the world of the Calliope Hummingbird, dining is an aerial ballet of precision and grace. This diminutive bird flutters from flower to flower, sipping nectar with its slender beak, a vital participant in the pollination process. Its diet is occasionally peppered with small insects and spiders, ensuring a balanced nutritional intake. This foraging pattern is a mesmerizing dance of survival, highlighting the bird’s crucial role in maintaining the ecological balance.

The conservation tale of the Calliope Hummingbird is a mosaic of human effort and natural resilience. While not currently endangered, they face threats from habitat loss and climate change. Conservationists emphasize the importance of preserving natural habitats and promoting native plant growth.

Citizen science projects contribute significantly to understanding their migration and breeding patterns. Every step taken towards conservation is a pledge to safeguard these tiny, yet significant, ambassadors of the natural world.

4. 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: Migratory and common           

The Rufous Hummingbird, a dazzling jewel of the avian world, graces North America with its vibrant presence. This tiny marvel boasts a fiery orange-red plumage that spans its back and sides, contrasting with its iridescent green throat and belly.

With a geographical range extending from Alaska to Mexico, this migratory dynamo undertakes one of the most remarkable journeys in the bird kingdom. Its annual migration takes it through various ecosystems, from lush coastal areas to mountainous terrain, making it a captivating subject for bird enthusiasts and nature lovers alike

Close up photo of a female Rufous Hummingbird sitting on a stick

The Rufous Hummingbird, a vibrant burst of energy in Idaho’s fauna, exhibits a remarkable nesting ritual. The female, a master of camouflage and construction, builds her nest in a concealed location, often in a dense shrub or tree. She skillfully weaves a sturdy yet supple nest from spider silk, plant down, and small twigs.

This cozy abode, stretching as her chicks grow, is a marvel of natural craftsmanship, embodying the bird’s steadfast dedication to her offspring.

The Rufous Hummingbird’s diet is a delightful spectacle of nature’s abundance. With a fervor for life, it zips from one flower to another, savoring the sweet nectar, its primary food source. This energetic bird also supplements its diet with insects and spiders, ensuring a balanced nutritional intake. Its foraging behavior, a delicate and precise dance, highlights its essential role in pollination and the broader ecological network, a testament to the interconnectedness of life.

In the Rufous Hummingbird’s conservation narrative, we find a story of ecological challenges met with human determination. Faced with habitat loss and the impacts of climate change, these birds have become a focus of conservation efforts. Strategies include habitat preservation, public education, and scientific research.

Each conservation measure, from community-based initiatives to broader ecological policies, contributes to a collective effort to protect these spirited birds, ensuring their continued presence in Idaho’s diverse avian tapestry.

5. Anna’s Hummingbird

  • Scientific name: Calypte anna
  • Life span: 4-6 years
  • Size: 3.9-4.3 in
  • Weight: 2-6 g
  • Wingspan: 4.7-5.9 in
  • Status: Least Concern           
  • State status: Migratory and rare

On the Pacific Coast of North America, Anna’s Hummingbird reigns as a year-round sentinel of beauty. With a striking iridescent rose-red crown and throat, these medium-sized hummingbirds are a testament to nature’s artistry.

Their geographical range includes the western United States, from Alaska to Baja California, where they are a common sight in urban gardens, coastal shrublands, and wooded areas. Anna’s Hummingbirds defy the notion of migratory wanderers, choosing instead to grace their territories with year-round splendor.

An Anna’s hummingbird in flight

Anna’s Hummingbird, with its iridescent plumage, weaves a tale of architectural wonder in its nesting habits. The female painstakingly constructs her nest using plant fibers, feathers, and spider silk, fashioning a cozy, elastic abode for her eggs on a tree branch. This nest, a blend of durability and delicacy, is her labour of love, a sanctuary against the elements, and a testament to her enduring maternal instincts.

The diet of Anna’s Hummingbird is a splendid spectacle of nature’s bounty. They flit energetically from flower to flower, savouring the sweet nectar, a critical player in the pollination process. Their diet is complemented by small insects and spiders, providing a well-rounded nutritional profile. This foraging behavior is not just sustenance; it’s a dance with nature, each sip and catch is a testament to the bird’s vital role in the ecological tapestry.

In the conservation journey of Anna’s Hummingbird, we see a story of adaptability and vulnerability. While they have shown remarkable adaptability to urban environments, they still face challenges like habitat loss and climate change. Conservationists are focused on promoting native flowering plants and protecting natural habitats.

Community involvement in bird monitoring and habitat conservation plays a crucial role. Each effort, big or small, contributes to the ongoing saga of safeguarding these vibrant, spirited birds for future generations.

Where to look for Hummingbirds in Idaho

Finding hummingbirds in Idaho is a delightful pursuit, and the Gem State offers a variety of exceptional locations where you can witness these tiny marvels in action. To embark on your hummingbird-watching adventure, here’s how and where to find them in Idaho:

  • Backyard Feeders: The easiest way to attract hummingbirds is to set up feeders in your own backyard. Fill them with a simple sugar water solution (four parts water to one part sugar), and hang them near flowering plants. Be patient, and soon you’ll have these enchanting birds visiting regularly.
  • Idaho Botanical Garden, Boise: Located in the capital city, the Idaho Botanical Garden is a haven for both native and migratory hummingbirds. Stroll through the garden’s lush landscapes, especially in late spring and summer, when hummingbirds are most active. Look for them near nectar-rich flowers and dedicated feeding stations.
  • Bonneville County, Eastern Idaho: Eastern Idaho, with its diverse habitats, offers excellent hummingbird-watching opportunities. Areas around Bonneville County, including Idaho Falls and Rigby, are known for attracting large numbers of hummingbirds during the summer months. Explore local parks, gardens, and scenic byways for sightings.
  • Selway-Bitterroot Wilderness: For a more adventurous hummingbird encounter, venture into the Selway-Bitterroot Wilderness in northern Idaho. This pristine wilderness area is home to numerous hummingbird species, and you can observe them while hiking through lush forests and near alpine meadows. Bring binoculars and a field guide to identify different species.
  • Sawtooth National Recreation Area: The Sawtooth National Recreation Area, near Stanley, Idaho, offers a beautiful backdrop for hummingbird watching. Hike along scenic trails that wind through wildflower-filled meadows, and keep an eye out for these colourful birds as they forage on nectar-rich blooms.

Remember to bring binoculars or a camera with a good zoom lens for a closer look and documentation. With a bit of patience and a keen eye, you can enjoy the mesmerizing world of hummingbirds in the diverse landscapes of Idaho.


In the enchanting landscapes of Idaho, hummingbirds bring a touch of magic to the natural world. From backyard feeders to the wilds of the Selway-Bitterroot Wilderness, these tiny, iridescent wonders captivate with their vibrant plumage and aerial acrobatics. As stewards of our ecosystems, they play a vital role in pollination and embody the delicate balance of nature.

Whether you’re a backyard enthusiast or an intrepid explorer, the opportunity to witness hummingbirds in Idaho’s diverse habitats is a testament to the state’s rich biodiversity and the enduring fascination of these marvelous birds.

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