Hummingbirds in Illinois (With Pictures)

Hummingbirds in Illinois (With Pictures)

Welcome to the magical realm of hummingbirds in Illinois, where these tiny jewels grace our gardens and woodlands with their vibrant colors and remarkable agility. Despite their small size, hummingbirds are among the most captivating and fascinating creatures found in the state.

Their iridescent feathers and lightning-fast wingbeats make them a wonder to behold. In this article, we’ll embark on an exhilarating journey to explore the various hummingbird species that visit or call Illinois home.

From their remarkable migratory patterns to their unique feeding behaviors, we’ll uncover the secrets that make these delicate creatures so extraordinary.

1. Ruby-Throated Hummingbird

  • Scientific name: Archilochus colubris
  • Life span: 3-5 years
  • Size: 3-3.75 in
  • Weight: 2-6 g
  • Wingspan: 3.1-4.3 in
  • Status: Least Concern

The Ruby-Throated Hummingbird, a dazzling jewel of the avian world, graces much of eastern North America, including Illinois. These enchanting creatures flaunt iridescent green feathers on their back and a snowy white belly, while the males boast a vivid ruby-red throat, truly a sight to behold!

Despite their small size, they possess astonishing speed and agility, making them master aerial acrobats. Did you know that the Ruby-Throated Hummingbird is the only species of hummingbird to breed in eastern North America?

A Ruby-Throated Hummingbird sitting quietly on a stick

When it comes to finding their love nests, the Ruby-Throated Hummingbirds in Illinois are quite the architects! These teeny avian engineers craft their delicate nests using materials like spider silk, plant down, and even bits of lichen, creating cozy little abodes nestled in tree branches.

Watching them fuss over their construction work, meticulously weaving each thread, is like witnessing a tiny, high-speed art installation. These dainty homes provide a safe haven for their precious eggs, as the devoted parents take turns incubating them until they’re ready to hatch.

These exquisite beings could easily classify as nectar connoisseurs. With their unrivaled agility and hovering capabilities, they gracefully sip nectar from a vast array of vibrant flowers, each sip an explosion of sweet satisfaction

Don’t be surprised to find them occasionally indulging in some tiny insects as well. Yes, they are a true epitome of “small but mighty” when it comes to their gastronomic adventures.

Throughout history, the Ruby-Throated Hummingbird has been a darling of bird enthusiasts, and Illinoisans are no exception. These charming aerial acrobats have captured the hearts of many, inspiring conservation efforts to protect their habitats and migration routes.

Thankfully, their adaptability has allowed them to thrive in various landscapes, but their future still depends on our conscious efforts. By providing hummingbird-friendly gardens, with an assortment of blooming flowers and safe spaces for nesting, we can ensure that these enchanting creatures continue to grace our Illinois skies for generations to come.

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

Meet the Black-Chinned Hummingbird, a charming avian gem found in the western regions of North America, and is a rare visitor in Illinois. Dressed in exquisite shades of green and iridescent purple, they exude elegance with every flutter of their wings.

The males, with their captivating black throat patches, are like dashing aerial gentlemen wooing their way into our hearts. And here’s a delightful tidbit about them: They are among the most agile fliers in the bird world, capable of hovering mid-air and even flying backward with graceful finesse. Prepare to be captivated as we uncover more about these enchanting aerial dancers.

A Black-Chinned Hummingbird in flight

The Black-Chinned Hummingbird reveals fascinating nesting behavior, showcasing a masterful blend of creativity and practicality. The female is like a skilled artisan, crafting a dainty cup-shaped nest with delicate plant fibers and spider silk.

These architectural wonders find their place among tree branches and shrubs, shrouded in nature’s artistry, making them truly hidden treasures. In this enchanting sanctuary, the female diligently tends to her eggs and young, while the chivalrous male occasionally lends a wing in defending their precious territory.

As for their culinary pursuits, these birds indulge in a diverse feast! They delight in sipping the nectar of various flowering plants, like penstemon and cacti, skillfully accessing the sweet rewards with their slender beaks. But wait, there’s more to their menu! They are not ones to shy away from a protein-packed treat, making an occasional visit to the insect and spider buffet for a delectable nutrient boost.

Despite their culinary prowess and aerial finesse, the Black-Chinned Hummingbird faces challenges in their quest for survival. Urban development and agriculture have encroached upon their habitats, posing threats to their existence.

Preserving the precious breeding grounds, like the lush shrublands and serene riparian areas, holds the key to securing their future. Through dedicated conservation efforts, including reforestation and the nurturing of native flora, we can ensure that the Black-Chinned Hummingbird continues to grace our skies with its charm and grace.

3. 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

The Rufous Hummingbird, a fiery jewel of the avian world, embarks on an epic migration spanning from Alaska to Mexico. Clad in vibrant shades of orange and red, this tenacious traveller captivates with its aerial acrobatics and feisty nature.

Fun fact: The Rufous Hummingbird is known for its exceptional flight abilities, reaching speeds of up to 50 miles per hour during its migration. 

Close up photo of a Rufous Hummingbird sitting on a stick

The Rufous Hummingbird has unique nesting behaviour characterized by their solitary nature. The female constructs a small cup-shaped nest made of plant materials and spider silk, usually situated on a branch or in a shrub.

These nests are often camouflaged with lichen and moss, providing protection for the eggs and young. The female is solely responsible for incubating the eggs and raising the chicks until they fledge.

The Rufous Hummingbird has a diverse diet that consists of nectar from a variety of flowering plants, including penstemons and salvias. They use their long, curved beaks to access the nectar deep within the flowers.

In addition to nectar, they consume small insects and spiders, which provide the necessary protein and nutrients. Their swift flight and ability to hover enable them to access nectar sources efficiently.

The Rufous Hummingbird faces conservation challenges due to habitat loss, climate change, and competition with other hummingbird species. Conservation efforts focus on protecting and restoring their habitats, especially in key migration corridors. Promoting the planting of native flowering plants and providing supplemental feeders can support their nectar sources during their migration and breeding periods.

Monitoring their populations and studying their migratory patterns contribute to a better understanding of their conservation needs. Efforts are also made to raise awareness among the public about the importance of preserving habitats and reducing threats to their survival.

4. 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           

Meet Anna’s Hummingbird, a delightful avian jewel that graces the western regions of North America, and is a rare visitor to Illinois. With their emerald-green plumage and vibrant rose-pink throats, they are the epitome of natural elegance.

These dazzling little creatures add a burst of color to any garden or woodland they inhabit. And here’s a fun tidbit: Anna’s Hummingbirds are the only hummingbird species known to produce a unique chirping sound during their courtship displays, adding a melodious touch to their romantic pursuits.

Prepare to be enchanted by the charisma and charm of these tiny airborne musicians.

An Anna’s Hummingbird posing for the camera on a twig

In the heart of Illinois, Anna’s Hummingbird showcases a captivating display of nesting ingenuity. These avian architects are known for their flair in picking unconventional homes, from shrubs and trees to hanging baskets and eaves.

With skilled craftsmanship, the female fashions a snug cup-shaped nest using a medley of materials like plant fibers, moss, and spider silk, artfully disguising it with lichens and bits of bark. But that’s not all! The males are no strangers to showmanship, taking center stage with daring aerial dives and boisterous chirping during courtship.

Once the chicks arrive, both parents work in harmonious tandem to nurture the young and share feeding duties.

Anna’s Hummingbirds boast an epicurean palate, delighting in a diverse menu. From sipping nectar from an array of blooming beauties, like red yucca and desert honeysuckle, to showcasing their impeccable hunting skills mid-air by snagging insects, they are the epitome of gastronomic versatility.

These resourceful souls even indulge in tree sap, earning them the title of the “syrup-sippers” of the bird world! By puncturing tree bark with their delicate beaks, they tap into the sugary treasure hidden within.

Happily, the Anna’s Hummingbird population thrives in the Lone Star State, but their idyllic habitats face peril. The encroaching threats of habitat loss and fragmentation challenge their coastal scrublands and urban gardens. Thankfully, conservation crusaders are on the case! Collaborating with communities, they sow the seeds of change by establishing hummingbird-friendly havens and championing the use of native plants.

Through these concerted efforts, we can raise a toast to a vibrant future for Anna’s Hummingbirds in Illinois, ensuring they continue to enchant the world with their grace and charm for generations to come.

Where to look for Hummingbirds in Illinois

While the bustling cityscapes of Illinois might not seem like hummingbird havens, these delicate wonders do grace the state during their migratory journey. To witness these tiny marvels in action, follow these tips and explore four nature areas known for their hummingbird allure:

Create a Backyard Oasis

Hang hummingbird feeders filled with a simple sugar-water solution (1 part sugar to 4 parts water) to mimic natural nectar and beckon them to your garden.

Plant an array of hummingbird-friendly flowers like bee balm, cardinal flowers, and trumpet vine, turning your outdoor space into a vibrant oasis for these winged visitors.

Visit Botanical Gardens

Chicago Botanic Garden: An enchanting floral haven that attracts a variety of bird species, including hummingbirds, amidst its colourful blooms.

Anderson Japanese Gardens in Rockford: A serene sanctuary with tranquil spots to observe hummingbirds amidst the lush landscapes.

Explore Nature Reserves and Parks

Montrose Point Bird Sanctuary: A favored rest stop for migrating hummingbirds, offering opportunities to spot various bird species.

Shawnee National Forest: A biodiverse gem in Southern Illinois, where hummingbirds dance amid the breathtaking natural beauty.

With a watchful eye and a touch of patience, you can catch these feathered gems in action. Embrace the marvels of nature and let the magic of hummingbirds unfold before your eyes in the Land of Lincoln. Happy birdwatching!


The hummingbirds of Illinois are a delightful testament to the wonders of nature. Despite their diminutive size, these tiny aerial acrobats never fail to leave a lasting impression on those fortunate enough to encounter them.

From the fiery hues of the Rufous Hummingbird to the elegant charm of Anna’s Hummingbird, each species brings its unique allure to the Land of Lincoln.

Whether you spot them in your own backyard, explore botanical gardens, or venture into nature reserves, the pursuit of these jeweled wonders is a rewarding and enchanting endeavor.

Their resilience in navigating through vast distances during their migratory journeys and their unwavering spirit in the face of habitat challenges are a source of inspiration for conservationists and bird enthusiasts alike.

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