Hummingbirds in Delaware (Pictures and Facts)

In the United States, birdwatching is so popular it could almost be considered a national hobby. With 1,107 bird species to be found around America, the hobby of finding and identifying birds isn’t one that will ever get boring. 

In the state of Delaware alone, there are an amazing 427 bird species, and that’s just one state! It makes sense that Delaware has so many different birds since there are varying ecosystems throughout the state, but have you ever wondered if Delaware is also a state that attracts the tiny forces of nature, better known as a hummingbird? Can you spot hummingbirds in Delaware?

Male Ruby-throated Hummingbird in flight at a feeder with a colorful background.
Male Ruby-throated Hummingbird

Yes, Delaware is home to four different types of hummingbirds. Hummingbirds in Delaware include the Ruby-throated Hummingbird, the Rufous Hummingbird, the Calliope Hummingbird, and Allen’s Hummingbird. 

Of these four hummingbirds, only two are native to Delaware, while the other two are rare visitors that are even more exciting to see than the others. Let’s dive into beautiful Delaware and its four types of hummingbirds. 

Hummingbirds in Delaware 

Since there are only four types of hummingbirds that can be seen in Delaware, it’s helpful to learn about each of them before you try your hand at identifying these minuscule flyers. 

Below, we’ll share the size, diet, and where to spot each unique hummingbird. We’ll also review additional facts and tips about the birds so you know exactly what to look for next time you have a visitor at your hummingbird feeder. 

Native Hummingbirds In Delaware

Ruby-throated Hummingbird 

Male Ruby-throated Hummingbird in flight feeding from a pink flower with a green background.
Male Ruby-throated Hummingbird
  • Ruby-throated Hummingbird Size: 3 – 3.5 inches
  • Ruby-throated Hummingbird Diet: Nectar and tiny insects 
  • Where To Spot A Ruby-throated Hummingbird: The Ruby-throated Hummingbird is attracted to brightly colored flowers and hummingbird feeders. 

Once April rolls around in Delaware, it’s time to keep an eye out for the adorable, adaptable Ruby-throated Hummingbird. Since the Ruby-throated Hummingbird is the most common type of hummingbird in the Eastern United States, it’s one of the easiest to spot in Delaware and will happily come to feed on hanging hummingbird feeders.

Female and Male Ruby-throated Hummingbirds in flight with a colorful background.
Female and Male Ruby-throated Hummingbirds

Ruby-throated Hummingbirds of both genders are a sparkling green in color, with the females of the species having a white belly and throat and the males sporting the remarkable ruby-red throat that gives this bird its name.

Even though the Ruby-throated Hummingbird is one of two native hummingbirds in Delaware, it’s probably going to be the one you see the most often. But that doesn’t mean you should take this gorgeous bird for granted! They stay in the United States from April until September when they fly back to Mexico to avoid the cold winter months. 

Amazingly, the Ruby-throated Hummingbird can make the entire flight back to Mexico in one single trip, which is pretty impressive for such a small bird!

Rufous Hummingbird

Male Rufous Hummingbird in flight with feet readily visible, against a smooth green background.
Male Rufous Hummingbird
  • Rufous Hummingbird Size: 3-3.5 inches
  • Rufous Hummingbird Diet: Nectar and insects 
  • Where To Spot A Rufous Hummingbird: They prefer open areas but will also visit a bird feeder on occasion. Rufous Hummingbirds are very territorial, and having them around might dissuade other species from visiting. 

Sometimes, big things can come in small packages, and the temper of the Rufous Hummingbird is undoubtedly one of those things. For a bird that can be around three inches in length, the Rufous Hummingbird is ridiculously fearless and is happy to run off other hummingbirds in the blink of an eye. 

Female Rufous Hummingbird in flight.
Female Rufous Hummingbird

The Rufous Hummingbird, which is the second hummingbird native to Delaware, is burnt orange in color (males) or a paler gray or greenish-brown color (females). The males of the species have a scarlet throat. 

As fun as these small birds are to observe, it’s getting harder and harder every year to see them. The Rufous Hummingbird is now considered a Nearly Threatened species, and in recent years its population has been dropping steadily. 

Non-native Hummingbirds in Delaware 

Calliope Hummingbird

Male Calliope Hummingbird in flight with red rays on throat.
Male Calliope Hummingbird
  • Calliope Hummingbird Size: Approximately 3 inches
  • Calliope Hummingbird Diet: Nectar from brightly-colored flowers and insects.
  • Where To Spot A Calliope Hummingbird: With an impressive range, the Calliope Hummingbird seems to prefer mountain meadows and streams but is also happy in wide-open yards and parks. 

Did you know that North America’s smallest bird, the Calliope Hummingbird, is one that can be seen in Delaware on rare occasions? (It weighs about 1/10 of an ounce, as much as a ping pong ball!) The Calliope Hummingbird might be tiny in size, but the length of their migration leaves no questions about how capable they really are. 

Calliope Hummingbirds make quite the trek to enter the United States. They spend the cold winters in Central America, but during the spring and summer, they make the journey north to the Western United States in North America, and sometimes even Canada!

Female Calliope Hummingbird, highly detailed flight image, with wings extended and natural green background.
Female Calliope Hummingbird

The female Calliope Hummingbird is green and gray in color, while the male is a brighter, more metallic green with a pale stomach and unique magenta stripes, or “rays” of feathers on the throat. 

They have only been spotted in Delaware a handful of times, but that doesn’t mean you can’t be next! The Calliope Hummingbird loves large, colorful blooms, unlike other species that prefer smaller, more fluted flowers, so if you’re craving a sighting of this hard-to-find hummingbird, consider planting some colorful flowers to attract them. 

Allen’s Hummingbird

Male Allen's Hummingbird bird perched on edge of vertical branch.
Male Allen’s Hummingbird bird
  • Allen’s Hummingbird Size: 3-3.5 inches
  • Allen’s Hummingbird Diet: Flower nectar, insects, and the occasional tiny spider. 
  • Where To Spot An Allen’s Hummingbird: Allen’s Hummingbird is usually spotted in the Western United States as early as January. In the east, it’s more common to see them in November and December. 

If you want excessively rare hummingbirds in Delaware, then Allen’s Hummingbird is the bird you’re looking for. Unlike other rare species that have been seen a handful of times in this small eastern state, Allen’s Hummingbird has been seen only once!

Female Allen's Hummingbird sitting on her nest.
Female Allen’s Hummingbird

It’s easy to see why Allen’s Hummingbird is often confused for the Rufous Hummingbird since both are rusty in color. Allen’s Hummingbird males have an orange neck and a metallic emerald back. Females of the species are duller, having a pale, spotted throat, rust-colored sides, and a dull green back.

As we said, in Delaware, Allen’s Hummingbird is the rarest of the rare. As of the publication date of this post, it has been spotted only a single time in the state.

Since Delaware is one of the eastern-most states, this isn’t surprising, and while it’s still rare in other eastern areas, it’s definitely seen more often than just a single time. There have been multiple sightings of them in Philadelphia and New Jersey, so seeing one in Delaware isn’t entirely impossible.

Final Thoughts: Hummingbirds in Delaware

While it’s not the most likely place to see a wide variety of hummingbird species, Delaware, on the east coast of the United States, does have a few species that have been spotted on occasion.

If you’re a birdwatcher or just enjoy seeing these tiny creatures up close, keep your eyes peeled and your bright flowers blooming. You can also attract hummingbirds to your backyard by hanging a hummingbird feeder filled with sugar water. You’ll be doing your part in helping these tiny birds thrive in Delaware!

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