West Virginia is known for beautiful natural sights: mountains, rolling rivers, and gorgeous leaf colors when summer changes to fall. It isn’t just the world of West Virginia itself that is spectacular, though. It’s also the wildlife, including birds!
This state has so many vast forests that it’s a given that West Virginia has a vast population of birds to see and enjoy. One type of bird that is less common than you might think is the hummingbird. In fact, there is only one species of hummingbird that is native to West Virginia: the Ruby-throated Hummingbird.
In addition to the Ruby-throated Hummingbird, are there other hummingbirds in West Virginia? Yes, there are three other species of hummingbirds that may pass through West Virginia every once in a while: the Rufous Hummingbird, Black-Chinned Hummingbird, and the Mexican Violetear Hummingbird.
Hummingbirds in West Virginia
Seeing a hummingbird in West Virginia can be as easy as setting up a hummingbird feeder and filling it with the correct ratio of sugar and water (more on that next), but what hummingbird you’re going to see is unlikely to vary.
The most common hummingbird in the state is the Ruby-Throated Hummingbird, but if you’re exceedingly lucky, you might see one of the other species that can sometimes pass through the state.
Let’s check out what hummingbirds you might see in West Virginia!
Native Hummingbirds in West Virginia
- Ruby-Throated Hummingbird Size: 3 – 3.5 inches
- Ruby-Throated Hummingbird Diet: Nectar and tiny insects
- Where To Spot A Ruby-Throated Hummingbird: Anywhere they can find native plants and flowers with lots of nectar. These hummingbirds are also regular visitors to home nectar feeders.
If you’re looking for an easy-to-spot hummingbird, look no further than the Ruby-throated hummingbird. This little bird is the only hummingbird to breed in the Eastern United States and is very widespread during the spring and summer.
During the fall and winter hummingbird migration period, it migrates south into Mexico.
Many birdwatchers describe the Ruby-throated hummingbird as a flying jewel, and their beautiful coloration makes it easy to see why.
Male Ruby-throated Hummingbirds have an emerald green body and a shimmering ruby-colored throat (which can look black depending on the lighting). Females have a white throat and a more rounded tailed than males’ sharper, forked tails.
In West Virginia, it shouldn’t be too difficult to draw the Ruby-throated hummingbird to your yard with just simple white sugar and water. Avoid artificial sweeteners, brown sugar, honey, or other sweeteners.
The ideal mixture of sugar and water to attract hummingbirds is a ratio of 4 parts water to 1 part white sugar. For example:
- 1/4th cup of white sugar
- 1 cup of hot water
Using hot water allows for the sugar to dissolve completely, so it won’t settle in the feeder and make it impossible to use later on.
Non-Native Hummingbirds in West Virginia
It might seem strange to see non-native hummingbirds in West Virginia, but it isn’t impossible! Many hummingbirds travel long distances when the weather begins to get cold or when they are coming north during the breeding season.
Seeing uncommon hummingbirds in West Virginia might seem difficult, but the most important thing to do in preparation for these hummingbirds is provide fresh food and be patient. Even if you never spot one of these non-native birds, the local Ruby-throated Hummingbird is still a beautiful sight!
Here are some of the non-native hummingbirds that have been seen in West Virginia:
- Rufous Hummingbird Size: 2.8-3.5 inches
- Rufous Hummingbird Diet: Nectar and tiny insects
- Where To Spot A Rufous Hummingbird: They prefer open areas for breeding, including clearings and forest edges. They can occasionally be seen at hummingbird feeders.
While many hummingbirds prefer to spend a lot of time south in Mexico and Central America, the Rufous Hummingbird has a much wider range. Much of their breeding seasons are spent as far north as Alaska, meaning this hummingbird is no stranger to the cold!
The Rufous Hummingbird is known to be feisty and will run off bigger hummingbirds with no problem.
They are small and rust/orange-brown in color, with a few green iridescent feathers spotted throughout their plumage. Females have a more muted appearance and have metallic green backs, a whitish underside, and pale rust around their sides.
An amazing fact about the Rufous Hummingbird is how far they travel: 7,800 miles round trip during the year, which is made even more incredible when you consider how small they are!
- Black-Chinned Hummingbird Size: 3 – 3.5 inches
- Black-Chinned Hummingbird Diet: Mostly nectar and tiny insects
- Where To Spot A Black-Chinned Hummingbird: Black-chinned hummingbirds like hummingbird feeders, but otherwise will often be found on the branches of dead trees.
Almost as widespread as the Rufous Hummingbird is the Black-chinned Hummingbird. This hummingbird also makes the trip from Mexico into Canada during the year, spending most of its mating season in the United States before heading south again when temperatures drop.
The Black-chinned Hummingbird is dark green with a black throat. Males will have a thin stripe of dark purple feathers, whereas females will forgo the dark neck plumage altogether and have a white throat instead.
As widespread as these hummingbirds are, they still aren’t native to West Virginia. Because they travel so much, a few of them might end up further east in West Virginia.
Even if you do manage to see a Black-chinned Hummingbird in West Virginia, it isn’t likely they’ll stick around very long. These birds move quickly and sometimes will only frequent a feeder for a single day before moving along on their journey.
Mexican Violetear Hummingbird
- Mexican Violetear Hummingbird Size: 4.25 – 4.5 inches
- Mexican Violetear Hummingbird Diet: Nectar from a large variety of small flowers
- Where To Spot A Mexican Violetear Hummingbird: Usually in Mexico, hence why they are known as the Mexican Violetear Hummingbird (they are also known as the Green Violetear Hummingbird). In West Virginia, they can rarely be seen at bird feeders but prefer clearings and overgrown meadows.
Once thought only to be a resident of Mexico and Central America, the Mexican Violetear Hummingbird has been reported traveling as far north as Kentucky and even West Virginia. Some have even been noted to travel as far as Canada!
It isn’t just their migration progress north that is amazing, either. This hummingbird has been seen as far south as Bolivia and Nicaragua, making the fact that some have been spotted in West Virginia even more surprising.
The Mexican Violetear Hummingbird is impossible to miss because of how uniquely beautiful they are. Their whole bodies are a shimmering green, and they have a bluish-purple stripe leading from their eyes to the back of their heads. Females look similar to males, although their ears patches tend to be smaller.
The entire body of these hummingbirds shines like a jewel in the sunlight, and since their plumage is so much different than that of other hummingbirds, it’s easy to tell when you’ve spotted one of these hummingbirds.
The Mexican Violetear Hummingbird has a curved beak, and its plumage is often described as being metallic in color.
You can find the Mexican Violetear Hummingbird in overgrown fields feeding on wildflowers and nesting in pine or oak forests. They will visit hummingbird feeders, too, but not as often as some other hummingbird species.
Final Thoughts On The Hummingbirds of West Virginia
While it’s true that West Virginia might not be the first state you think of when you hear “hummingbird,” that doesn’t mean that you can’t find these beautiful creatures in the state. In fact, a few species of hummingbird that have been spotted in West Virginia over the years.
No matter what species of hummingbird you see, it’s sure to be a treat! These tiny birds are amazing creatures, and it’s always a pleasure to watch them flit about your backyard.
You’re most likely to see the Ruby-throated Hummingbird since it is the only hummingbird species native to the state, but if you’re lucky, you might catch a glimpse of the Rufous, Black-chinned, or the Mexican Violetear Hummingbird.
Read Next: Woodpeckers In West Virginia