6 Hummingbirds in Nebraska (With Pictures)

6 Hummingbirds in Nebraska (With Pictures)

Nebraska, often celebrated for its vast plains and agricultural heritage, harbors hidden treasures within its natural landscapes. Among these treasures are the enchanting hummingbirds, delicate jewels of the avian world. While not as abundant as in some regions, Nebraska serves as a crucial stopover for these tiny marvels during their annual migrations.

In this article, we delve into the fascinating world of hummingbirds in Nebraska, exploring where to find them, when to spot them, and the unique challenges they face in their journey.

From wooded areas to urban gardens, we uncover the diverse habitats that attract these winged wonders, offering insights into their behavior, feeding habits, and the conservation efforts aimed at preserving their populations. Join us on a journey through the Cornhusker State, where every glimpse of a hummingbird brings a moment of magic and wonder.

1. Ruby-Throated Hummingbird

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

With its brilliant emerald plumage and iridescent ruby-red throat patch, the Ruby-throated Hummingbird is a dazzling sight to behold. This diminutive bird is primarily found in eastern North America, ranging from Canada to Mexico.

It is the only hummingbird species that breeds in the eastern United States, making it a prized visitor to gardens and wooded areas throughout its range. Despite its small size, the male’s vibrant throat patch, known as a gorget, catches the sunlight with a fiery glow, earning it the nickname “jewel of the garden.”

Ruby-Throated Hummingbird

The Ruby-throated Hummingbird crafts a home that is nothing short of an architectural marvel. This tiny avian artist meticulously gathers spider silk and plant down, weaving them into a cup-shaped nest that is securely anchored to a tree branch.

The elasticity of the spider silk allows the nest to expand as the chicks grow, a testament to the bird’s ingenuity. Nesting predominantly in deciduous and mixed forests across the eastern United States, these birds demonstrate a preference for sheltered locations that offer protection from the elements and predators. The female alone undertakes the task of constructing this nest and raising her young, showcasing remarkable independence and resilience.

With a metabolism that races like the wind, the Ruby-throated Hummingbird’s diet is a critical component of its survival. This vibrant bird flits from flower to flower, sipping nectar with its long, slender beak designed perfectly for the task. The high sugar content of nectar provides the energy necessary to fuel its rapid wing beats.

However, the Ruby-throated Hummingbird is not a one-trick pony; it also consumes insects and spiders, adding essential proteins and fats to its diet. This balanced nutritional intake supports not only its daily activities but also its impressive migratory journeys, illustrating the bird’s adaptability and resourcefulness.

The Ruby-throated Hummingbird, a symbol of fragility and strength, faces challenges from habitat loss and climate change. Conservation efforts for this species have been a mix of public engagement and scientific research. Organizations and individuals alike have been encouraged to plant native, nectar-rich flowers and establish backyard feeders to provide sustenance for these birds, especially during migration.

Banding programs have yielded valuable data on migration patterns and lifespan, informing conservation strategies. Despite these efforts, the Ruby-throated Hummingbird’s resilience is a beacon of hope, reminding us of the importance of preserving the natural world for future generations.

2. 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       

With its iridescent green plumage and distinctive whirring wings, the Broad-tailed Hummingbird is a familiar sight in the mountainous regions of the western United States. This migratory bird is known for its high-pitched trill and aerial acrobatics as it flits among the wildflowers of its alpine habitat.

During the breeding season, the male’s metallic rose-red throat patch, or gorget, serves as a dazzling display to attract mates and defend territory. Despite its small size, the Broad-tailed Hummingbird’s boundless energy and charismatic personality make it a welcome visitor to gardens and natural areas throughout its range.

Broad-Tailed Hummingbird

The Broad-tailed Hummingbird, with its distinctive trill, weaves a nest of artistry and precision. Choosing locations in shrubs or trees, the female integrates spider silk, plant fibers, and pieces of bark to construct a flexible, durable home for her young.

This nest, camouflaged among the foliage, reflects a deep instinctual knowledge of the environment, designed to offer maximum protection from predators and the elements. The Broad-tailed Hummingbird’s nesting behaviour is a marvel of natural engineering, showcasing the bird’s adaptability and the instinctive drive to nurture and protect its offspring in the wild expanses of its habitat.

The diet of the Broad-tailed Hummingbird is a vibrant tapestry of nectar and insects. This bird, with its broad geographic range, has adapted to forage from a variety of flowering plants, demonstrating a remarkable versatility.

The nectar provides the necessary energy for its high-speed flight and aerial manoeuvres, while insects supplement its diet with proteins, essential for growth and reproduction. This dietary diversity is crucial for the Broad-tailed Hummingbird, supporting its lifestyle across different elevations and seasons.

The conservation narrative of the Broad-tailed Hummingbird is one of awareness and action. Facing threats from habitat fragmentation and climate change, this species has become a focal point for conservation initiatives aimed at protecting critical habitats and promoting biodiversity. Efforts to maintain and restore natural areas, coupled with community involvement in planting native, nectar-producing plants, have been key strategies.

Research into the Broad-tailed Hummingbird’s migration patterns and habitat preferences has provided valuable insights, guiding conservation policies and practices. The commitment to conserving the Broad-tailed Hummingbird speaks to a broader dedication to safeguarding our natural heritage for future generations.

3. 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: Migratory and rare       

Delicately adorned with shimmering green plumage and a subtle black throat patch, the Black-chinned Hummingbird is a master of stealth and agility. This migratory bird is commonly found in the western United States, from the Pacific Coast to the Rocky Mountains.

Its slender, slightly decurved bill allows it to probe deep into flowers in search of nectar, while its iridescent throat patch flashes shades of violet and purple in the sunlight. Despite its understated appearance, the Black-chinned Hummingbird’s grace and beauty make it a cherished visitor to gardens and natural habitats throughout its range.

Black-Chinned Hummingbird

The Black-chinned Hummingbird, a jewel of the air, exhibits nesting habits that reflect its delicate grace. Females exhibit a preference for horizontal branches in deciduous or evergreen trees, where they build nests using plant down, spider silk, and other fine materials.

These nests, often no larger than a walnut, are strategically placed to minimize exposure to predators and harsh weather. The meticulous construction of these nests, blending seamlessly into their surroundings, showcases the Black-chinned Hummingbird’s commitment to the safety and well-being of its offspring.

The Black-chinned Hummingbird’s diet is a delicate balance between energy and nutrition. Preferring the nectar from a diverse palette of flowers, this bird is drawn to the vibrant blooms that dot its habitat. The high sugar content of nectar fuels its high-energy lifestyle, while insects and spiders provide protein and other nutrients essential for health.

This varied diet supports not just the bird’s daily activities but also its breeding efforts and territorial defense. The Black-chinned Hummingbird’s foraging behaviour, moving tirelessly from flower to flower, underscores the critical role of biodiversity in sustaining wildlife.

The conservation of the Black-chinned Hummingbird underscores the interconnectedness of ecosystems and the importance of sustainable practices. Faced with habitat destruction and the impacts of pesticide use, conservationists advocate for the preservation of natural habitats and the planting of native, nectar-producing plants.

Educational programs aim to raise awareness about the species and its role in pollination, encouraging community involvement in conservation efforts. Research, including banding and tracking, provides insights into migration patterns and habitat preferences, informing conservation strategies. The efforts to protect the Black-chinned Hummingbird highlight a broader commitment to preserving biodiversity and ensuring the health of ecosystems.

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           
  • State status: Migratory and rare

Named after Anna Massena, the Duchess of Rivoli, Anna’s Hummingbird is a year-round resident of the western United States. Sporting a striking combination of iridescent green and rosy pink plumage, this medium-sized hummingbird is often found in gardens, parks, and coastal scrub habitats.

The male’s vibrant rose-red gorget and iridescent crown flash brightly in the sunlight, adding a touch of brilliance to its surroundings. Unlike most hummingbirds, Anna’s Hummingbird performs a unique courtship display known as “dive display,” where the male ascends high into the sky before plummeting downward in a dramatic aerial display.

Despite its urban adaptability, Anna’s Hummingbird remains a symbol of beauty and resilience in the natural world.

Anna’s Hummingbird

Anna’s Hummingbird, with its year-round presence, showcases nesting habits that reflect its adaptability and resilience. Unlike many hummingbirds, Anna’s does not migrate, choosing instead to build its life in a range of habitats, from urban gardens to wild coastlines.

The female constructs a nest of plant down and spider silk, attaching it securely to a branch or bush. This cozy abode, often reinforced with bits of bark and lichen for camouflage, is a testament to her resourcefulness and dedication to her offspring.

Anna’s Hummingbird’s diet is as diverse as the environments it inhabits. Thriving in both natural and urban settings, this bird feeds on nectar from a wide array of flowering plants, displaying an adaptability that ensures its survival. The sugar-rich nectar fuels its energetic flight, while insects and spiders provide necessary protein and other nutrients.

Anna’s Hummingbird’s ability to exploit food resources in various habitats, including those altered by human activity, showcases its remarkable resilience. This dietary flexibility not only supports its year-round presence but also its role as a pollinator, highlighting the interconnectedness of species within ecosystems.

The story of Anna’s Hummingbird conservation is one of adaptation and coexistence. As one of the more common hummingbirds in urban and suburban areas, it has shown an incredible ability to thrive in close proximity to humans. Conservation efforts for Anna’s Hummingbird emphasize the importance of creating and preserving green spaces within urban environments.

Planting native, nectar-rich flowers, reducing pesticide use, and providing clean water sources are simple yet effective strategies to support their populations. The success of Anna’s Hummingbird in adapting to human-altered landscapes serves as a powerful reminder of the potential for conservation efforts to foster biodiversity within our own backyards, highlighting a path forward that benefits both wildlife and human communities.

5. 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: Migratory and rare       

As the smallest breeding bird in North America, the Calliope is a true marvel of nature. Sporting a stunning combination of green and rose-pink plumage, this tiny bird is a rare and sought-after sight in the mountainous regions of the western United States and Canada.

Its high-pitched trilling song echoes through alpine meadows during the breeding season, while its miniature size and rapid wing beats enable it to hover effortlessly as it feeds on nectar from delicate wildflowers. Despite its diminutive stature, the Calliope Hummingbird’s vibrant colors and enchanting presence never fail to captivate those lucky enough to catch a glimpse of it.

Calliope Hummingbird

The Calliope Hummingbird, North America’s smallest bird, constructs its nest with the care of a master craftsperson. Preferring the solitude of high mountain meadows, the female meticulously weaves together moss, plant down, and spider silk to create a tiny, yet sturdy, cup-shaped nest. This nest is often anchored to a branch in a sheltered location, offering protection from the elements and predators.

The diet of the Calliope Hummingbird is a reflection of its environment and the challenges of small-scale foraging. Relying primarily on nectar from wildflowers, this tiny bird has adapted to a variety of floral resources, showcasing remarkable flexibility. The energy-rich nectar fuels its rapid flight and energetic lifestyle, while insects and spiders provide essential proteins and fats.

This dietary diversity is crucial for its survival, especially during the breeding season and migration. The Calliope Hummingbird’s foraging strategy, moving gracefully among the alpine blooms, highlights the intricate relationships between species and their habitats.

Conservation efforts for the Calliope Hummingbird are deeply rooted in the understanding of its unique ecological niche. As the smallest long-distance migrant in North America, it faces challenges from habitat loss and climate change. Conservationists focus on preserving natural habitats, especially the alpine meadows critical for breeding, and promoting practices that support biodiversity.

Research on migration patterns and habitat use informs conservation strategies, while public engagement initiatives emphasize the importance of native plantings and the reduction of pesticide use. The conservation of the Calliope Hummingbird is a poignant reminder of the fragility of nature and the need for concerted efforts to protect our planet’s biodiversity.

6. 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 rare       

The Rufous Hummingbird is a spirited traveler, journeying thousands of miles from its breeding grounds in western North America to its wintering grounds in Mexico and Central America. This feisty bird is distinguished by its striking orange-red plumage and contrasting green back.

Its long, straight bill is perfectly adapted for sipping nectar from flowers, while its rapid wing beats create a distinctive buzzing sound in flight. Despite its small size, the Rufous Hummingbird’s bold personality and relentless energy make it a charismatic presence wherever it goes.

Rufous Hummingbird

The Rufous Hummingbird, a fiery spirit of the air, exhibits nesting habits that underscore its tenacity. Preferring the solitude of open areas, forests, and mountain meadows, the female selects a site that offers an unobstructed view, often several feet off the ground.

Using plant material and spider silk, she constructs a nest so well camouflaged it becomes one with its surroundings. This strategic choice of location and construction materials provides her eggs and future fledglings with a high degree of protection from predators.

The Rufous Hummingbird’s diet is a testament to its adaptability. This intrepid traveler has a voracious appetite, feeding on nectar from a variety of flowering plants, including those in gardens and forests. Its preference for bright, tubular flowers illustrates a symbiotic relationship where the bird plays a crucial role in pollination.

Additionally, the Rufous Hummingbird diversifies its diet with insects and spiders, ensuring a balanced intake of nutrients. This diet sustains its energetic lifestyle, supporting its long migratory journeys and territorial defense, showcasing the bird’s resilience and resourcefulness in diverse environments.

The Rufous Hummingbird, with its remarkable migratory journey, faces significant conservation challenges. Habitat loss, climate change, and the reduction of food sources along migratory routes pose threats to its survival. Conservationists have responded by emphasizing the importance of preserving natural habitats and creating garden spaces with native plants that provide nectar.

Research and monitoring efforts, including banding and tracking migrations, have increased our understanding of their ecological needs and migration patterns. Public education campaigns raise awareness of the bird’s plight, encouraging actions to mitigate risks. These concerted efforts highlight a commitment to safeguarding the Rufous Hummingbird’s future, reflecting a broader determination to protect biodiversity.

Where to look for Hummingbirds in Nebraska

In Nebraska, spotting hummingbirds can be an exhilarating experience, although they are not as abundant as in some other regions. These tiny, vibrant birds can be found in specific habitats across the state during their migratory periods. To increase your chances of encountering them, it’s crucial to know where to look and when.

  • Wooded Areas: Hummingbirds are often found in wooded areas with abundant flowers and nectar sources. Look for them flitting among flowering trees, shrubs, and vines, especially during the spring and fall migration seasons.
  • Gardens and Parks: Urban and suburban areas with well-maintained gardens, parks, and botanical centers can attract hummingbirds with their diverse array of flowering plants. Setting up hummingbird feeders with sugar water can also draw them closer for observation.
  • Riparian Zones: Along rivers, streams, and wetlands, you might spot hummingbirds darting among the vegetation. These areas provide a mix of water sources, vegetation, and insects that hummingbirds need for sustenance during their journey.
  • Migration Corridors: Keep an eye on migration reports and local birdwatching groups to learn about hotspots along migration corridors. These areas can provide excellent opportunities to observe multiple species of hummingbirds as they pass through.

To maximize your chances of spotting hummingbirds, bring binoculars and a field guide to help with identification. Patience and quiet observation are key, as these birds can be easily startled. Additionally, consider planting native flowers in your own backyard to attract and support hummingbirds throughout the season.


While Nebraska may not be renowned for its hummingbird populations, these ethereal creatures still grace the state with their presence during migration. Their fleeting visits add a touch of magic to Nebraska’s natural landscapes, reminding us of the interconnectedness of all living beings.

By appreciating and safeguarding their habitats, we can ensure that future generations will continue to marvel at the delicate beauty of hummingbirds in the Cornhusker State.

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