Hummingbirds in Oklahoma

Hummingbirds in Oklahoma

Welcome to the enchanting world of hummingbirds in Oklahoma! Known for their vibrant colours, astonishing speed, and delicate size, hummingbirds captivate the hearts of birdwatchers and nature enthusiasts alike. Nestled in the heartland of the United States, Oklahoma serves as a crucial stopover and breeding ground for several hummingbird species during their migratory journeys.

From the ruby-throated hummingbird, with its emerald green feathers and shimmering red throat, to the black-chinned hummingbird, adorned with a mesmerizing purple collar, these tiny avian wonders grace the landscapes of Oklahoma with their presence. With its diverse array of ecosystems, ranging from prairies to forests, and its abundance of nectar-rich flowers, Oklahoma provides an ideal habitat for hummingbirds to thrive.

In this article, we will explore the different species of hummingbirds found in Oklahoma, their unique behaviours and adaptations, and the best ways to attract and observe these magnificent creatures in your own backyard.

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           

Meet the dazzling Ruby-Throated Hummingbird, a jewel of the avian world! Found primarily in eastern North America, this small but mighty bird boasts brilliant emerald-green feathers that shimmer in the sunlight. What sets it apart is the vibrant ruby-red throat patch that gives it its name.

Males proudly display this striking feature to attract mates and defend their territory. Females, on the other hand, showcase a more subtle appearance with a white throat and green iridescent plumage.

Ruby-Throated Hummingbird

The nesting behaviour of the Ruby-throated Hummingbird is truly astonishing. Female hummingbirds exhibit meticulous craftsmanship as they construct their small, cup-shaped nests, skilfully using soft materials and expertly blending them into the surrounding foliage.

They typically choose well-concealed locations, such as tree branches or shrubs, to safeguard their delicate eggs. The females take charge of all aspects of nest building, incubation, and raising the young, while the males concentrate on defending their territories and showcasing their vibrant plumage to attract mates.

The primary diet of the Ruby-throated Hummingbird consists of nectar from a variety of flowering plants. With their long, slender beaks and tongues, they possess the ability to extract nectar with remarkable precision and efficiency.

These agile birds also incorporate small insects and spiders into their diet, as these creatures provide vital proteins and nutrients. Due to their high metabolism and energy requirements, they must visit numerous flowers and consume substantial quantities of nectar on a daily basis.

Conservation efforts for the Ruby-throated Hummingbird revolve around the protection and restoration of their natural habitats, which include woodlands, gardens, and meadows that provide crucial food sources and nesting sites. The use of pesticides and the destruction of habitats pose significant threats to their populations.

To support their conservation, initiatives are focused on promoting the growth of native plants that offer abundant nectar and raising awareness about the importance of preserving environments that are conducive to hummingbirds.

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           

The Broad-Tailed Hummingbird is a remarkable species among hummingbirds, captivating with its glistening feathers and unique vocalizations. Its wings create a distinct whirring sound as it gracefully moves from one flower to another, bringing delight with its vibrant presence.

An interesting tidbit: During courtship displays, the male Broad-Tailed Hummingbird emits a high-pitched “peep” that adds a melodious symphony to the mountainous landscapes it inhabits.

A Broad-Tailed Hummingbird sitting on a branch

The nesting behaviour of the Broad-Tailed Hummingbird is truly captivating. Female hummingbirds construct their nests using plant fibres, moss, and spider silk, often selecting horizontal branches for stability and camouflage. What makes it truly remarkable is their incorporation of lichens and bits of bark onto the nest’s exterior, seamlessly blending it with the surrounding environment.

Meanwhile, male hummingbirds fiercely defend their territories, engaging in high-speed aerial displays to attract potential mates. Once the eggs are laid, females diligently incubate them and care for the young until they are ready to take flight.

When it comes to their diet, the Broad-Tailed Hummingbird enjoys a diverse array of nectar sources, including flowers like penstemons and columbines. Equipped with long, slender beaks, they can probe deep into tubular flowers to access the precious nectar. In addition to nectar, they also consume small insects and spiders, which contribute to their protein intake. These hummingbirds showcase exceptional foraging abilities, aided by their remarkable hovering flight that allows them to extract nectar with precision.

Conservation efforts for the Broad-Tailed Hummingbird are primarily focused on safeguarding its high-altitude forest habitats, which face threats such as deforestation, climate change, and human development. Preserving these areas ensures the availability of suitable nesting sites and an abundance of food sources. Educating the public about the significance of maintaining native plant communities and cultivating hummingbird-friendly gardens also plays a vital role in their conservation.

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           

Within the sun-drenched landscapes of North America, we are fortunate to encounter the magnificent Black-Chinned Hummingbird. Adorned with resplendent emerald plumage and a striking black throat patch, this graceful avian visitor mesmerizes observers as it effortlessly hovers in mid-air. An interesting tidbit: The Black-Chinned Hummingbird is renowned for its remarkable migration, spanning over 2,000 miles from its breeding grounds to its wintering grounds in Mexico.

A Black-Chinned Hummingbird in flight

The nesting behaviour of the Black-Chinned Hummingbird is truly fascinating. The female hummer meticulously constructs a small cup-shaped nest using plant fibres and spider silk, often positioning it on a tree branch or shrub. With its excellent camouflage, the nest seamlessly blends into the surrounding foliage. While the female takes charge of incubating the eggs and caring for the young, the male may occasionally assist in defending the territory.

When it comes to their diet, the Black-Chinned Hummingbird enjoys a diverse array of nectar sources, particularly from flowering plants like penstemon and cacti. Their long, slender beaks allow them to access the nectar hidden deep within the flowers. In addition to nectar, these hummingbirds also supplement their diet with small insects and spiders, which provide essential proteins and nutrients. Their agile flight and impressive hovering abilities enable them to efficiently access nectar sources.

The Black-Chinned Hummingbird faces conservation challenges due to habitat loss and degradation caused by urban development and agriculture. Preserving their breeding habitats, including shrublands and riparian areas, is crucial for their survival. Conservation efforts are focused on creating and maintaining suitable habitats through initiatives such as reforestation and the preservation of native plants.

4. 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           

Nestled within the mountainous regions of the western United States, the Calliope Hummingbird casts a spell with its diminutive stature and striking plumage. Dressed in hues of green with delicate touches of purple, this minuscule flyer zips through the air, captivating all who witness its enchanting presence.

An intriguing fact: The Calliope Hummingbird claims the honour of being the smallest long-distance avian migrant, embarking on a remarkable journey from its breeding grounds in the northern mountains to its wintering grounds in Mexico.

A Calliope Hummingbird drinking nectar in flight

The nesting behaviour of the Calliope Hummingbird is truly remarkable and distinct. The female constructs a cup-shaped nest using plant fibres, lichens, and spider silk, often placing it delicately on a tree branch or shrub. These nests are skilfully hidden and expertly camouflaged, providing a secure sanctuary for the eggs and young offspring. It is the female’s responsibility to diligently incubate the eggs and care for the young ones.

When it comes to their diet, the Calliope Hummingbird enjoys a diverse array of nectar sources, with a particular affinity for flowering plants such as penstemon and fireweed. Equipped with their long, slender beaks, they skilfully access the deep reserves of nectar within the flowers.

In addition to nectar, they also supplement their diet with small insects and spiders, which serve as essential sources of protein and nutrients. Their exceptional hovering ability and agile flight enable them to efficiently access nectar sources.

The Calliope Hummingbird faces conservation challenges primarily stemming from habitat loss and degradation caused by deforestation and land development. Preserving and restoring their preferred habitats, including mountainous areas and forests, play a pivotal role in their survival. Conservation efforts are focused on establishing protected areas, promoting initiatives for reforestation, and raising awareness about the significance of preserving their habitats.

5. 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 dazzling gem in the avian realm, undertakes an extraordinary migration that stretches all the way from Alaska to Mexico. Draped in resplendent hues of orange and red, this determined voyager mesmerizes with its aerial acrobatics and spirited disposition. Here’s an intriguing tidbit: The Rufous Hummingbird is renowned for its remarkable flight prowess, soaring at speeds of up to 50 miles per hour during its migration.

Hummingbird sitting on a stick

The Rufous Hummingbird showcases distinctive nesting behaviour characterized by its solitary nature. The female hummer crafts a small cup-shaped nest using plant materials and spider silk, often perched on a branch, or nestled within a shrub. These nests are skilfully camouflaged with lichen and moss, offering a shielded haven for the eggs and offspring. It is the female’s responsibility to incubate the eggs and nurture the chicks until they are ready to take flight.

In terms of their diet, the Rufous Hummingbird enjoys a diverse array of nectar sources, including flowers such as penstemons and salvias. Their long, curved beaks allow them to access the nectar deep within the flowers. Additionally, they supplement their diet with small insects and spiders, which provide the essential protein and nutrients. Their swift flight and exceptional hovering ability enable them to efficiently reach nectar sources.

The Rufous Hummingbird encounters conservation challenges stemming from habitat loss, climate change, and competition with other hummingbird species. Conservation efforts primarily revolve around safeguarding and restoring their habitats, particularly focusing on key migration corridors.

Promoting the cultivation of native flowering plants and providing supplemental feeders can aid in supporting their nectar sources during migration and breeding seasons. Monitoring their populations and studying their migratory patterns contribute to a better understanding of their conservation requirements.

Where to look for Hummingbirds in Oklahoma

Oklahoma, with its diverse landscapes and favourable climate, offers fantastic opportunities for observing hummingbirds in their natural habitat. To catch a glimpse of these enchanting creatures, here are some recommendations on where to find them and how to make the most of your experience.

  • Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge: This refuge in southwestern Oklahoma provides a haven for hummingbirds. Explore the diverse habitats, including prairies, forests, and lakeshores, where you can spot species like Ruby-throated and Black-chinned Hummingbirds.
  • Beavers Bend State Park: Located in the southeastern part of the state, this park boasts a wealth of birding opportunities. Wander along the trails and keep an eye out for Ruby-throated Hummingbirds, among other species, near the park’s abundant wildflowers.
  • Red Slough Wildlife Management Area: Situated in the southeastern region near Idabel, Red Slough is a wetland complex attracting a myriad of birdlife. Visit during spring and summer to witness the vibrant display of hummingbirds, including Ruby-throated and Rufous Hummingbirds.
  • Tallgrass Prairie Preserve: In northern Oklahoma, this vast prairie landscape provides a serene setting for birdwatching. Venture into the prairie grasslands, especially during the blooming season, to encounter hummingbirds like the Ruby-throated and Broad-tailed Hummingbirds.

Remember to approach hummingbirds with care, respecting their space and natural behaviours. Enjoy the captivating sights and sounds of these remarkable creatures as you explore the hummingbird-friendly areas of Oklahoma.


In the diverse landscapes of Oklahoma, hummingbirds grace the skies with their vibrant presence. By setting up feeders, planting native flowers, and exploring the state’s prairies and wetlands, visitors can immerse themselves in the captivating world of these tiny avian wonders.

As you venture into Oklahoma’s hummingbird hotspots, remember to tread lightly, observe from a distance, and appreciate the delicate beauty of these enchanting creatures. So grab your binoculars and embark on a hummingbird adventure, where nature’s magic unfolds before your eyes.

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