7 Hummingbirds In Kansas

7 Hummingbirds In Kansas

The small hummingbird is a treasured bird to many, and for good reason. These speedy birds are amusing to watch in flight; they can hover and fly backwards. Despite their small size, these birds are also fiercely territorial, and you may see hummingbirds drive away larger animals – or try to chase you off!

All hummingbirds primarily feed on nectar, which is why they have such long bills, equipped with long tongues that can dart into the center of a flower like a butterfly’s proboscis.

Kansas is home to many diverse species; hummingbirds are among this state’s abundant fauna. However, for hummingbird fans, you’ll have to go the extra mile to see many of these amusing birds.

According to  Chuck Otte, a K-State Research and Extension agriculture and natural resources agent in Kansas, “99.99 percent” of hummingbirds in the eastern half of the state are Ruby-throated Hummingbirds.

For the most part, other hummingbirds in Kansas are rare vagrants, not frequent residents. But don’t let that dash out your hopes of seeing a rarer bird like the Calliope Hummingbird. With some research, it’s possible to see up to seven species of hummingbird that make stops in Kansas.

1. Ruby-Throated Hummingbird

  • Scientific name: Archilochus colubris
  • Length: 2.8 to 3.5 in (7 to 9 cm)
  • Weight: 0.071 to 0.212 oz, females slightly larger than males (3.4 g to 3.8 g)
  • Wingspan: 3.1 to 4.3 in (8 to 11 cm)
  • Lifespan: 5-7 years
  • Conservation Status: Least Concern

The Ruby-throated Hummingbird is one of North America’s most beloved hummingbirds, and they’re often the poster child for reasons to plant pollinator-friendly plants in your backyard.

Ruby-Throated Hummingbird

This small but feisty bird winters in warm climates including Central America and Mexico; during spring and summer, they migrate as far north as Canada. The species is named for the male’s distinctive red-pink throat, which the females lack.

The species vocalizes mainly with squeaky chirps; however, they rarely make noise unless defending their territory or during breeding displays.

This species is rarely social in any aspect; outside of the breeding season, they are entirely solitary animals. The female raises her offspring without any assistance from the male. Hummingbirds are active during the day, and they feed near-constantly to keep their energy up. As it gets colder out, they may conserve energy by going into hypothermic torpor.

This may make the bird appear dead or stunned, but they’re just fine – just saving their energy for when they need it most.

2. Anna’s Hummingbird

  • Scientific name: Calypte Anna
  • Length: 3.9 – 4.3 inches (9.9 to 10.9 cm)
  • Weight: 0.1 to 0.2 oz (2.8 to 5.7 g)
  • Wingspan: 4.7 inches (12 cm)
  • Lifespan: 3-5 years
  • Conservation Status: Least Concern

The Anna’s Hummingbird is another species considered plentiful in North America; however, you’re less likely to see this species in Kansas than the aforementioned Ruby-throated Hummingbird.

Anna's hummingbird

This species frequently feeds on exotic ornamental plants; your best shot at seeing one may be at a public garden or other site with a wide variety of non-native flowering plants. The male sports a distinct red crown, and they’re the only North American species to have this marking.

They look similar to many other North American species, but they can be easily discerned, even by beginner birders, by this distinct feature. Both sexes have a colorful reddish-pink gorget (patch of feathers on the throat); however, females’ gorgets are smaller and duller than males’ gorgets.

 The male’s call is alarming to some, as it sounds scratchy and metallic – to some, it has the same effect as nails on a chalkboard! This species is a fairly rare vagrant to Kansas.

To spot rare birds like this, consider checking out local birding clubs – many of them publish rare sightings online or in newsletters to give other birders a chance to spot something exciting.

3. Allen’s Hummingbird

  • Scientific name:  Selasphorus Sasin
  • Length: 3 — 3.5 inches (7.62 to 8.89 cm)
  • Weight: 0.71 – 0.176 ounces (2.1 to 4g)
  • Wingspan: 3 inches (7.62 cm)
  • Lifespan: 3-5 years
  • Conservation Status: Least Concern

This small, colorful bird is even rarer to see in Kansas. This bird is primarily found in the western United States; your best shot at spotting a vagrant in Kansas is when these birds migrate to the U.S. from their wintering grounds in South America.

Allen’s Hummingbird

During migration, some birds inevitably get a little lost or displaced, which is why many birds can be spotted in locations they’d normally never be present in during migration season.

 The Allen’s Hummingbird is known for their unusual rusty coloring, with  rust-colored (rufous) flanks, rump, and tail; the males also feature an iridescent orange-red throat. Females are mainly green in color, but share the male’s rufous coloration on their tails.

Juveniles look almost identical to the female Rufous Hummingbird, so much sothat the two are virtually indistinguishable. The males of this species are particularly territorial.

Despite only being a maximum of 3.5 inches in size, this brave little bird has been known to attack potential predators much larger than them, such as kestrels and hawks.

4. Black-chinned Hummingbird

  • Scientific name: Archilochus Alexandri
  • Length: 3.5 inches (8.89 cm)
  • Weight: unknown
  • Wingspan: unknown
  • Lifespan: 3-5 years
  • Conservation Status: Least Concern

As you might have guessed, the handsome Black-chinned Hummingbird is named for their distinctive black ‘chin’ and throat. This is only present in the males; females are a soft green and brown.

Black-Chinned Hummingbird

Black-chinned hummingbirds are primarily found in the western United States, but their range also extends into Canada (during the summer) and Mexico (during the winter).

While they aren’t common vagrants in Kansas, they can be found in just about any habitat, so there’s a chance to see them anywhere where there’s plenty of nectar-producing flowers.

The female Black-chinned Hummingbird constructs a nest using plant fibers, spider web silk, and other soft, pliable materials. These small birds usually nest 6 to 12 feet aboveground, out of reach of some large predators.

Research suggests that this species may purposefully nest near larger, predatory birds.  The caloric value of the hummingbird is not worth the effort a bird of prey would need to put in to hunt them, but their presence deters potential predators of the hummingbird’s unhatched eggs or defenseless chicks.

5. Broad-tailed Hummingbird

  • Scientific name: Selasphorus Platycercus
  • Length: 4 inches (10.16 cm)
  • Weight: 0.13 oz (3.6 g)
  • Wingspan: 5.25 inches (13.335 cm)
  • Lifespan: 5-7 years
  • Conservation Status: Least Concern

The Broad-tailed Hummingbird isn’t present in Kansas year-round, but it’s possible to spot quite a few strays during their annual migration.

Broad-Tailed Hummingbird

This species displays sexual dimorphism (visual cues to differentiate the sexes); males have a rose-red gorget, while females do not. This hummingbird prefers habitat featuring pine or oak woodland. They prefer red, tubular flowers to feed on, but they will feed on nectar from a variety of plants, along with small insects.

 During the breeding season, it’s possible to spot males performing a charming courtship display. Males fly high and then dive down during these displays, producing a unique trilling sound with their wing feathers.

In 70% of cases, females re-use a nesting site from one year to another. Chicks fledge within 10-12 days, but the female will keep an eye on the fledglings for several weeks after leaving the nest.

6. Calliope Hummingbird

  • Scientific name: Selasphorus Calliope
  • Length: 2.8–3.9 in (7–10 cm)
  • Weight: 0.071 to 0.106 oz (2 to 3 g)
  • Wingspan: 4.3 in (​​11 cm)
  • Lifespan: 3-5 years
  • Conservation Status: Least Concern

The Calliope Hummingbird is the smallest bird native to the United States and Canada.  As a migratory visitor to Kansas, this species is most frequently found between Lawrence and Ottawa.

Calliope Hummingbird

This species doesn’t solely feed on nectar and small insects, like most hummingbirds. They also feed on sap, collecting it from holes previously bored by sapsuckers.

 This bird’s nest is typically built on the bases of pine cones, and the species prefers habitat with plentiful pine trees for this reason. The nest, which is small and brown in color, is easily camouflaged against the real pine cones.

Similarly to the Broad-tailed Hummingbird, the nest is often reused multiple years in a row. This makes sense, as building a tightly woven nest formed from spiderwebs, lichen, and other materials light enough for the hummingbird to carry is a huge energy expenditure.

The Calliope Hummingbird has shown decrease in some population sizes; it’s theorized one of the biggest reasons for this is the spread of non-native plants crowding out this bird’s native food sources.

7. Rufous Hummingbird

  • Scientific name: Selasphorus rufus
  • Length: 2.8–3.5 in (7–9 cm)
  • Weight: 0.071–0.176 oz (2–5 g)
  • Wingspan: 4.3 in (11 cm)
  • Lifespan: 3-5 years
  • Conservation Status: Near Threatened

The Rufous Hummingbird is a pleasant surprise to see in Kansas; you may spot a vagrant either passing through to their western spring & summer range, or headed south during the winter.

Rufous Hummingbird

This hummingbird is named for their rufous-colored face. The male’s throat is eye-catching, with a fiery orange-red gorget. Females also have some orange feathers on the throat, but the smaller array of feathers easily distinguishes them from the males.

This powerful but small bird may surpass 2,000 miles flown as part of each annual migration. These birds are so small that they’re often taken as prey by larger birds that would typically feed on large insects.

In 2018, this species’ IUCN status was changed to Near Threatened from the previous status of Least Concern (the ‘best’ status a species can achieve). During the winter, when plants are not flowering, the Rufous Hummingbird depends heavily on insect prey.

Due to increased pesticide use in their range, population numbers have dropped, as this hummingbird has both reduced available prey & the risk of consuming poisoned insects.

Additionally, due to climate change some native flowers that the Rufous Hummingbird feeds on have started blooming two weeks earlier than the birds’ arrival to their breeding locations. This leaves the hummingbirds without enough food on their late arrival.

Where To See Kansas’s Hummingbirds

While some experienced birdwatchers might know how to find hummingbirds surprisingly easily while out walking a trail, there’s many ways to increase your chances of a hummingbird sighting.

First, keep in mind that these species are small and fast-moving; if you want to see a hummingbird, you’ll need to pay close attention to small details while out and about.

Not sure where to start?

Many Kansas state parks have safe trails designed for optimal viewing of wildlife; additionally, they usually have a guide to the species present at each park, so you can know what you’re looking for. Additionally, local Audubon groups usually have their own chapters, in addition to leading guided tours.

If you’re especially new to birdwatching, you may want to go on a guided tour for a little extra help. Tour guides are more experienced birdwatchers, so they’re more likely to spot birds who are hidden by brush or camouflaged against their surroundings.

If you’re looking for a bird that’s uncommon in your area, like most of the hummingbirds mentioned here, a guided tour is an especially good idea.

Invest in a good pair of binoculars. These don’t have to be expensive – many second-hand or thrift stores carry used binoculars, which can help you get started with a great brand rather than the cheapest options available.

Additionally, some libraries or birdwatching organizations will loan out or rent binoculars for a low cost. If you’re just visiting Kansas and don’t want to pack expensive and breakable birdwatching gear, this could be a good option for you.

Want to encourage hummingbirds to take up residence in your own neighborhood? There’s several ways to encourage hummingbird populations to grow in your area. For one, don’t use pesticides in your yard if you can help it.

Pesticides remove natural insect prey, which not only decreases the amount of hummingbirds in your area, but other insect-eaters like many songbirds, bats, and beneficial insects. Additionally, insects who have been poisoned by pesticide may be caught before passing away; ingesting poisoned insects can kill hummingbirds and other predators. Encouraging hummingbirds to be present in your area can instead be a great method of natural pest control.

Many people put out commercially available hummingbird food as an offering to potential hummingbird visitors. This isn’t always recommended; if you do offer hummingbird food, make your own at home so you don’t feed hummingbirds red dye.

Additionally, change hummingbird food daily, or multiple times a day on hot days. Spoiled sugar water can make hummingbirds sick. Additionally, be careful with where you place hummingbird feeders, as they can attract other animals like wasps, which don’t always want to share!

If you want hummingbirds to feel at home, the best way is through establishing native plants. Hummingbirds don’t always recognize non-native plants as safe food sources, and these plants can crowd out the things that hummingbirds do like to eat.

Not sure where to start?

The Audubon Native Plant Finder can be a helpful resource for beginners to native plant gardeners. You can even sort the plants by pollinator-friendliness to increase your chances of making a hummingbird haven.


Kansas is home to a diverse variety of habitats, and unique species ranging from the hummingbirds mentioned here to endangered species like the Piping Plover and Black-Footed Ferret.

With so many opportunities for a once in a lifetime sighting, any nature lover is sure to find something to appreciate when visiting Kansas.

Hummingbirds serve an important purpose in Kansas’s ecosystem. While hummingbirds can be fascinating and fun to learn about, they’re also important to the health of their environments.

Hummingbirds serve many of the same functions that bees do – propagating flowers by spreading pollen while feeding. They can also feed on pests that would damage your garden. Learning about hummingbirds & the issues impacting them not only helps birds in your area, but helps spread awareness of threats to these small but mighty birds.

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