Hummingbirds in Kentucky (Pictures and Facts)

Kentucky is a state of many wonders, including the longest cave in the entire world, Mammoth Cave, and a plethora of different animals to see and enjoy. One of the most sought-after types of animal sightings are those related to specific types of birds, and with 375 species of birds in Kentucky, it’s easy to see why!

One special sort of bird that is less common than others in Kentucky is the hummingbird. Hummingbirds come in all sorts of different colors, making them a favorite of those who like to set up bird feeders, but what are the hummingbirds in Kentucky?

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

The hummingbirds of Kentucky are the Ruby-Throated Hummingbird, the Rufous Hummingbird, Anna’s Hummingbird, Black-Chinned Hummingbird, and the Mexican Violet Ear Hummingbird.

Some of these hummingbird species are common, while others are quite rare. Read on to see which hummingbirds you’re most likely to see in Kentucky!

Hummingbirds in Kentucky

In Kentucky, there are two types of hummingbirds that are native to the state: the Ruby-throated Hummingbird and the Rufous Hummingbird. This means you have a much better chance of seeing these two hummingbird species, but seeing the other, rarer species isn’t completely out of the question.

Since hummingbirds are small and fast, knowing exactly what each hummingbird looks like is imperative when making an identification. In this post, we’ll tell you the size, diet, and where to find each type of hummingbird on our list.

Native Hummingbirds in Kentucky

Ruby-throated Hummingbird

Close up shot of a male Ruby-throated Hummingbird sitting on a branch with a tan background.
Male Ruby-throated Hummingbird
  • Ruby-throated Hummingbird Size: 3 – 3.5 inches
  • Ruby-throated Hummingbird Diet: Nectar from brightly colored tubular flowers of native plants and very small insects
  • Where To Spot A Ruby-throated Hummingbird: They’ll go for blooms with a lot of nectar wherever they can. In Kentucky, these hummingbirds are also frequent visitors to nectar feeders around people’s homes and backyards.

When most people in Kentucky think about hummingbirds, they’re probably picturing the Ruby-throated Hummingbird. These widespread hummingbirds are no stranger to many residents in the Eastern United States in North America, and their shimmering beauty makes them hard to resist.

Female Ruby-throated Hummingbird on nest feeding two chicks.
Female Ruby-throated Hummingbird and chicks.

The male Ruby-throated Hummingbird is metallic emerald green on its body with a ruby-colored throat. Female Ruby-throated Hummingbirds have pale throats.

It isn’t just how common they are that makes these hummingbirds one of the most popular species, though. It’s how friendly and brave they are!

Some species of hummingbirds are shy and will avoid hummingbird feeders if they know people are nearby, but not the Ruby-throated Hummingbird. You can sit on your porch and watch these little birds go back and forth to your bird feeder, giving you an up-close and personal view of their beauty.

Since Kentucky is so heavily forested, there are plenty of places for the Ruby-throated Hummingbird to nest, but don’t be surprised to see them hanging out in more suburban areas, too. These hummingbirds are adaptable!

Rufous Hummingbird

Male Rufous Hummingbird in flight with feet readily visible, against a smooth green background.
Male Rufous Hummingbird
  • Rufous Hummingbird Size: 2.8-3.5 inches
  • Rufous Hummingbird Diet: Flower nectar and small insects
  • Where To Spot A Rufous Hummingbird: For breeding, they favor open environments such as clearings and woodland margins. They can be observed at hummingbird feeders on occasion.

The second Kentucky native hummingbird is the Rufous Hummingbird, and this feisty little bird is one you don’t want to miss! With a big personality and some of the most impressive stamina of any hummingbird, the Rufous Hummingbird is a spectacular little orange bird to see.

A female Rufous Hummingbird hovering in flight on blue gray background.
Female Rufous Hummingbird

The male and female of the Rufous Hummingbird species look quite different from one another, with the male being a predominantly orange rust color with their throats leaning more towards red. On the other hand, the female Rufous Hummingbird is a dull greenish color with a pale belly.

It might be hard to think of something as small as a Rufous Hummingbird being mean, but you’d think differently if you were another hummingbird! The Rufous Hummingbird is exceptionally territorial and will run off other hummingbirds when possible, even if they are much bigger than the tiny Rufous.

Non-native Hummingbirds in Kentucky

Anna’s Hummingbird

Male Anna's Hummingbird in flight.
Male Anna’s Hummingbird
  • Anna’s Hummingbird Size: 3 -3.9 inches
  • Anna’s Hummingbird Diet: Nectar, insects, and spiders.
  • Where To Spot An Anna’s Hummingbird: Anna’s Hummingbird can be seen in all different sorts of habitats in Kentucky, ranging from forests to gardens.

One of the harder-to-spot hummingbirds in Kentucky is Anna’s Hummingbird. Since they resemble the Ruby-Throated Hummingbird, these flying friends sometimes go unnoticed, but with one of the most impressive courtship displays of any hummingbird, Anna’s Hummingbird isn’t one you want to forget!

Female Anna's Hummingbird sitting on eggs in nest with bright green background.
Female Anna’s Hummingbird

Anna’s Hummingbirds are on the smaller side with a green and gray color scheme. The male has an iridescent magenta head and throat. The female has a dull gray throat and possibly some red patches.

As far as their impressive courtship goes, they execute stunning dive displays with the males climbing up to 130 feet in the air before plunging back down with a flurry of sound from the feathers of their tails.

Black-chinned Hummingbird

Black-Chinned Hummingbird male with purple throat aglow while hovering in flight.
  • Black-chinned Hummingbird Size: 3 – 3.5 inches
  • Black-chinned Hummingbird Diet: Mostly nectar and small, flying insects
  • Where To Spot A Black-chinned Hummingbird: Hummingbird feeders are preferred by black-chinned hummingbirds. However, they can also be found on the limbs of dead trees in the forests of Kentucky.

One of the rarest hummingbirds in Kentucky is the Black-chinned Hummingbird. This hummingbird is considered an “accidental species”, which means Kentucky isn’t part of its usual range during hummingbird migration. That being said, they have been spotted a handful of times in Kentucky, which is why they’ve made it onto our list.

Female Black-chinned Hummingbird in flight.
Female Black-chinned Hummingbird

The Black-chinned Hummingbird has a black throat and cheeks, with a thin stripe of metallic purple feathers at the base of the throat for the males of the species. Females have a pale throat and white tips on their tail feathers.

The Black-chinned Hummingbird hasn’t been spotted in Kentucky since 2016, since its range is usually much farther west. If you want to try and see this accidental species, look to the branches of dead trees, which is one of their favorite places to roost.

Mexican Violetear Hummingbird

Mexican Violetear Hummingbird hovering in flight.
Mexican Violetear Hummingbird
  • Mexican Violetear Hummingbird Size: 4.25 – 4.5 inches
  • Mexican Violetear Hummingbird Diet: Nectar from a large variety of small flowers and tiny insects.
  • Where To Spot A Mexican Violetear Hummingbird: They are commonly seen in Mexico, hence their name “Mexican Violetear Hummingbird.” They are rarely observed at hummingbird nectar feeders in Kentucky, preferring clearings and overgrown meadows.

Unfortunately for hummingbird lovers in Kentucky, one of the most beautiful birds on our list is also the rarest in the state. Another accidental species, the Mexican Violetear Hummingbird is much more common in the Western United States of North America, Mexico, and Central America.

These gorgeous hummingbirds are larger than others on our list, with the main portion of their body being a deep, metallic emerald green that fades to teal on the tail feathers. As the name suggests, the Mexican Violetear Hummingbird has a stripe of brilliant violet blue that wraps around the head around the eyes.

Mexican Violetear Hummingbird is feeding the chicks at the nest.
Mexican Violetear Hummingbird and chicks.

Unlike many other hummingbirds, the Mexican Violetear Hummingbird is not sexually dimorphic, which means there is no large difference in appearance between males and females of the species.

Female Mexican Violetear Hummingbirds might be slightly duller in appearance, but otherwise, they retain the lovely looks of their male counterparts.

When we say rare in regards to the Mexican Violetear Hummingbird, we mean it! This hummingbird has only been spotted a single time in Kentucky, and that was back in 1999!

With a range that extends all the way down to Nicaragua in the winter, it’s no surprise that Kentucky is not the normal home of these exquisite hummingbirds. Could you be the next person to see one?

Final Thoughts: Hummingbirds In Kentucky

Attracting hummingbirds to your Kentucky yard or garden is a fun way to enjoy these beautiful creatures up close! By providing them with nectar-rich flowers and hummingbird feeders, you can bring these amazing tiny birds right to your backyard.

Who knows, you might even get lucky and see one of the rarer species on our list. Good luck!

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