Texas is home to nineteen species of hummingbirds because of both the climate and the abundance of food.
This makes the Lone Star State one of the most diverse states when it comes to hummingbirds, but also birds in general.
In today’s article, we’ll be examining all Texan native hummingbirds to determine exactly why so many species settle in this state.
- Lucifer Hummingbirds
- Ruby-throated Hummingbirds
- Blue-throated Hummingbirds
- Amethyst-throated Hummingbirds
- Rivoli’s Hummingbirds
- Green-breasted Mangos
- Mexican Violetears
- Anna’s Hummingbirds
- Costa’s Hummingbirds
- Allen’s Hummingbirds
- Rufous Hummingbirds
- Broad-tailed Hummingbirds
- Calliope Hummingbirds
- Black-chinned Hummingbirds
- White-eared Hummingbirds
- Broad-billed Hummingbirds
- Violet-crowned Hummingbirds
- Berylline Hummingbirds
- Buff-bellied Hummingbirds
Note: The hummingbirds are ranked in no particular order.
1. Lucifer Hummingbirds
Scientific name: Calothorax lucifer
Despite the ominous connotation of the name, it’s actually a reference to the iridescent glow of the magenta neck and upper chest (lucifer means ‘the light bearer’ in Latin).
These birds are common in Mexico and the southwestern United States. In Texas, the sightings are very common, especially in southwestern Texas, around Fort Davis, and south of Fort Stockton.
They’re especially attracted to agave plants, but they’ll drink the nectar from any colorful desert plant.
2. Ruby-throated Hummingbirds
Scientific name: Archilochus colubris
Ruby-throated hummingbirds have the widest natural range out of all American hummingbirds, so it’s no wonder they’re found all over Texas.
Because of their abundance, they’re easy to find and it’s possible to attract them to your yard by using nectar bird feeders.
Both the males and the females have metallic green wings with a white belly and an almost entirely black head. Males, however, are recognized by their ruby-colored throats.
3. Blue-throated Hummingbirds
Scientific name: Lampornis clemenciae
One of the largest hummingbirds in the United States – blue-throated hummingbirds can grow up to 5 inches in length.
In comparison, ruby-throated hummingbirds (possibly the most common type of hummingbirds in Texas) only grow up to 3.5 inches in length.
They aren’t as common as some other hummingbirds, with only about 1,500 registered observations. Most of these observations were made in the southwest, right next to the Mexican border.
These hummingbirds are easily recognized not only because of their size but also because of the blue gorget* on the gray chest and neck. The wings are usually green.
4. Amethyst-throated Hummingbirds
Scientific name: Lampornis amethystinus
A very rare species of hummingbird found in Texas, these birds have so far been spotted in the southwestern area around Alpine and Marfa, while a male was once spotted in Davis Mountains.
Growing up to 4.9 inches in length, they’re large for a hummingbird, and they have a throat similarly colored to that of a blue-throated hummingbird.
The tail and wingtips are gray, while the rest of the body is green. The female is the same, but the throat is cinnamon, not amethyst-colored.
5. Rivoli’s Hummingbirds
Scientific name: Eugenes fulgens
Most often found in southwestern Texas, near the borders with Mexico and New Mexico, Rivoli’s hummingbirds can grow up to 5.5 inches in length.
This makes them the largest hummingbirds in the USA alongside blue-throated hummingbirds.
They feed on insects and plant nectar, and males are known for being territorial over their feeding grounds. Both the males and the females are dark, but they have an iridescent glow to them when shined upon by sunlight.
6. Green-breasted Mangos
Scientific name: Anthracothorax prevostii
Although naturally a tropical hummingbird from Central America, the green-breasted mango is known to migrate to Texas, especially on the southeastern coast.
It’s been documented in areas surrounding Corpus Christi, Beaumont, and McAllen.
The green-breasted mango male can be recognized by the red or magenta outer feathers of the tail, while the inner feathers remain black. In both sexes, the body is a combination of iridescent green and gold.
7. Mexican Violetears
Scientific name: Colibri thalassinus
This species was missing from Texas for a long time and it’s recently been reintroduced. The Mexican violetear can now be found in a lot of wild areas near Austin, San Antonio, and Houston.
It can be recognized as it’s almost completely metallic green, aside from the blue streaks on the cheeks.
They can grow up to 4.7 inches, making them large hummingbirds, while they primarily feed on nectar and small insects. In the wild, they gather in the trees of the Inga genus.
8. Anna’s Hummingbirds
Scientific name: Calypte anna
Although it’s a West Coast native, Anna’s hummingbird migrates all over the United States and it’s often seen in Texas. They have an iridescent glow to their magenta head, while males often develop a few pink patches around the neck.
A unique phenomenon occurs when Anna’s hummingbirds fly. They generate an electrostatic charge that makes the pollen stick to their body (both the feathers and the beak). This is great for pollination as they transfer much more pollen grains.
9. Costa’s Hummingbirds
Scientific name: Calypte costae
Native to Mexico’s West Coast, Arizona, Nevada, and California – this hummingbird often visits Texas. Although the chances of finding them are small, they can be attracted by nectar feeders.
Male Costa’s hummingbirds are easily recognized because of the blue or purple cap and neck, while the rest of the body is green and gray. The females are entirely green and gray, without the recognizable cap.
10. Allen’s Hummingbirds
Scientific name: Selasphorus sasin
This type of hummingbird in Texas is relatively common in the southern portion of the Lone Star State.
They can be easily recognized as they’re very similar to rufous hummingbirds – they’re the two most prominent types of hummingbirds in Texas with rufous coloring.
Male Allen’s hummingbirds are mostly rufous, while the throat is iridescent and orange. The chest is mostly white. The females have the same color pattern as the males, only darker and with no throat iridescence.
Both males and females have metallic green wing feathers with an iridescent glow.
11. Rufous Hummingbirds
Scientific name: Selasphorus rufus
Very similar to Allen’s hummingbirds, these small hummingbirds are mostly rufous-colored. The male’s throat, however, often develops a green patch, which is a contrast to Allen’s male, which has an orange (sometimes red) patch.
Rufous hummingbirds also have metallic green wings, while adult females lack the intense head coloring – this makes young males and adult females very difficult to tell from adult Allen’s females.
Unlike Allen’s hummingbirds, rufous hummingbirds occupy the entire state of Texas – even the northern half.
Their numbers are great, so if you see a rufous-colored hummingbird, chances are (from a mathematical perspective) you’re looking at a rufous hummingbird, not an Allen’s hummingbird.
12. Broad-tailed Hummingbirds
Scientific name: Selasphorus platycercus
As the name suggests, these hummingbirds have thicker tails than other hummingbird species.
Aside from the tail, they can be recognized by the male’s magenta throat and neck, contrasting the white of the chest and the metallic green head, back, and wings.
In Texas, they’ve been documented all over the state, except for the northeast part close to the border with Oklahoma. They feed and breed in large, open areas, usually among trees and shrubs.
To woo a female, a male will perform stunts in the air – dive from a height and do flips, all while producing a very sharp sound with his wings.
13. Calliope Hummingbirds
Scientific name: Selasphorus calliope
Found in the west and the south of Texas, calliope hummingbirds are easy to recognize. Both males and females have a gray chest, but males have a magenta throat. Both sexes have metallic green backs and wings.
They mostly feed on nectar, but they’ll catch any insects found nearby. Calliope hummingbirds mostly feed on penstemon, columbine, and elephant head nectar.
14. Black-chinned Hummingbirds
Scientific name: Archilochus alexandri
While their color pattern isn’t as exciting as the color patterns of other hummingbirds, black-chinned hummingbirds are very easily recognized.
Their bodies are mostly gray and light brown, but the male’s head is entirely black, while the wings are metallic green. Males can also develop an iridescent purple patch on the throat.
They’re extremely common Texas hummingbirds and they’ve been documented all over the state. While some hummingbird species use diving stunts to court females, these hummingbirds use them to intimidate other birds.
Males are very territorial, especially when it comes to feeding and breeding. However, they’re not very territorial if many individuals inhabit the same territory. In that case, they won’t become social, but they won’t attack one another either.
They are known to develop territorial tendencies around bird feeders too, not only around natural food sources.
15. White-eared Hummingbirds
Scientific name: Basilinna leucotis
Recognized by their entirely black faces and a white streak running from the eyes towards the ears, white-eared hummingbirds have a wide color palette. The chest is usually iridescently blue and green, while the tail is black.
They’re not too common in Texas with only a few reported sightings in the southwestern corner. They normally inhabit Mexico and they migrate to the southern states regularly.
It will feed on small insects if possible, but nectar is their primary food. They’ll fiercely defend their territory from other birds and they’ve been documented fighting broad-tailed hummingbirds for food.
16. Broad-billed Hummingbirds
Scientific name: Cynanthus latirostris
A small hummingbird similar to the Mexican violetear, the broad-billed hummingbird is found in all parts of Texas, but in small numbers.
Their long and wide bill is pink and orange, while the male’s body is mostly green, the wings are black and the chest is iridescent blue.
Females have dark and green back and wings, while the chest and belly are light gray.
Broad-billed hummingbirds can be lured to bird feeders with nectar and they evidently prefer red and yellow flowers. In the wild, they mostly feed on nectar from desert plants, such as agaves or the desert honeysuckle.
17. Violet-crowned Hummingbirds
Scientific name: Leucolia violiceps
Normally found in Mexico, violet-crowned hummingbirds often fly over the border into Texas.
Their bellies and chest are white, while the wings are mostly black. The base color of the head is also black, but it’s covered with two iridescent patches of blue and purple.
Both males and females have these patches, although they’re less impressive in females. The bills sometimes develop a black tip. Since they can grow up to 4.5 inches, they’re large for a hummingbird.
18. Berylline Hummingbirds
Scientific name: Saucerottia beryllina
A rare Texan hummingbird species, Berylline hummingbirds only occur in the westernmost part of the state. Their natural habitat is found in Mexico, so they regularly wander off into the States.
They have a unique color pattern – their bellies are mostly gray or almost white, while the neck and head are strikingly green. The wings are usually brown, but they can develop a rufous note.
They’re generalist feeders that eat everything they can get their beaks on – they’ll eat insects if they find any, but nectar is usually the first priority. They eat nectar from both native and introduced plants.
19. Buff-bellied Hummingbirds
Scientific name: Amazilia yucatanensis
As the scientific name suggests, they both breed and spend the winter in Yucatan, while they’re often spotted on the southern and southeastern coasts of the United States during the winter.
These hummingbirds also have the green head – brown body color pattern, but their chest and belly are more buff than in other hummingbirds. The beak is bright orange and pink, while females often develop a black tip.
They mostly feed on nectar, but will eat insects if an opportunity arises.
Texas is home to 19 hummingbirds because of its favorable climate, but also its proximity to Mexico. Many of these species are actually Mexican natives that just migrate to Texas in search of food or a mate.
While most hummingbirds in Texas are original populations, some of them had to be reintroduced after the original populations died out. Most of these hummingbirds are territorial toward other birds and will defend their territory vigorously.