One of the most curious and spunky types of birds, the hummingbird, is best identified by its small size, vibrant colors, and distinctive movements. Did you know hummingbirds are the only birds that are able to fly backward?
Hummingbirds get their name from the frequency of their wingbeats. When a hummingbird is flying, they will likely beat their wings around 50 times a second.
Because of this high frequency of wingbeats, they produce a gentle humming sound when in flight. The small size of the hummingbird and their flight pattern requires a lot of energy to maintain. Because of this, hummingbirds spend a lot of their time eating and drinking.
The wondrous mountains and views across Montana make it a great place to be with wildlife and interact with the natural world. There are so many beautiful and amazing species of birds here if you look for them! You can watch these birds from your window or outside amongst them.
With seven species of hummingbirds seen across Montana, with varying levels of the population across the state, it can be difficult to tell one hummingbird species from the next! However, with a careful eye, you can masterfully tell each of these birds apart.
Keep reading to learn more about these amazing animals and get some tips for quick and easy hummingbird identification.
7 most common Hummingbirds in Montana
Here’s the list of 7 most commonly seen hummingbirds in Montana:
- Ruby-throated Hummingbird
- Broad-tailed Hummingbird
- Rufous Hummingbird
- Calliope Hummingbird
- Black-chinned Hummingbird
- Anna’s Hummingbird
- Rivoli’s Hummingbird
1# Ruby-throated Hummingbird
The Ruby-throated Hummingbird is not a common visitor of Montana; these species tend to occupy the eastern coast of the United States during the summertime.
However, some may accidentally drift into the more eastern parts of Montana during their breeding season. As such, if you ever recognize a strange hummingbird you don’t recognize, it could be one of these little guys!
These hummingbirds are best identified by their green bodies that shimmer in the light. They have beautiful, reflective, metallic-like feathers that really bring any sort of garden to life!
The Ruby-throated Hummingbird is one of the best visitors to the world beyond your window! As with most hummingbirds, these little guys are incredibly personable.
In general, hummingbirds are a pretty solitary species, and they aren’t afraid to chase out other hummingbirds from their territory! In the eastern area of the United States, these are the sole species of hummingbird.
Male Ruby-throated Hummingbirds are named for the distinctive red ruby feathers on their throats, officially known as the forget.
These feathers can look like a very deep, dark shade of wine red if the male isn’t flashing his gorget. However, the moment that he flashes them, these feathers will become vivid and reflective in the light.
Female Ruby-throated Hummingbirds are going to look the same as the males, except they don’t have these beautiful red throats.
Ruby-throated Hummingbirds are well-known for their nectar feeding. If you want to attract these birds into your yard, get some tubular flowers or nectar feeders.
Additionally, the Ruby-throated Hummingbird eats small bugs, such as aphids, spiders, or little flies. They eat these for protein and energy, along with the sugar they get from nectar.
These are amazing types of hummingbirds that resemble jewels floating through your yard. Keep an eye open for these amazing species whenever you can!
2# Broad-tailed Hummingbird
Unlike the Ruby-throated Hummingbird, the Broad-tailed Hummingbird is a species a little more likely to be found in Montana. These little birds are scattered across the midwest during their breeding season.
The Broad-tailed Hummingbird very closely resembles the Ruby-throated Hummingbird in many ways. If you blink twice, you’re going to have a hard time telling one from the other!
If you have a pair of binoculars or a close look at one, you’ll have a much easier time discerning one from the other.
The Broad-tailed Hummingbird has a green body, and the male also has a reddish gorget. However, the Broad-tailed Hummingbird has more ‘cinnamon’ or buff-colored feathers.
Specifically, the tail and primary flight feathers for these little birds are going to be brown, while the Ruby-throated Hummingbird is going to have black primary feathers.
The Broad-tailed Hummingbird’s gorget is also a little more on the pink side of the red shade. The females look like the males, but they do not have a colorful gorget. The feathers beneath their throat are simply cream-colored.
These birds make their homes in open woodlands, where they will survive off nectar and little insects. If you are hoping to attract some of these into your yard, you should be sure to leave out a nectar feeder or plant native flowers in your garden.
As always, a hummingbird is not going to be able to resist a beautiful flower garden!
The Broad-tailed Hummingbird is going to breed high up in the mountains, where the temperature gets very cold at night.
In order to survive the temperature drops, their metabolism slows; their heart rate slows and their body heat is next to none. Despite this, these little 3 to 4-inch hummingbirds continue to survive and thrive in the wild.
3# Rufous Hummingbird
One of the most gorgeous hummingbirds, the Rufous Hummingbird spends its summers in Montana, along with a few other states along the west coast of the United States.
At this point in time, this species is of notable concern to bird and wildlife conservationists; these poor animals are declining in population size.
So if you see one of these brilliant birds, be sure to cherish it! They are incredibly feisty animals, and this certainly matches their brilliant, fiery colors!
The males are a gorgeous rusty orange with a cream chest. The caps of their heads are yellowish-green, and their gorgets are red.
Unlike the Broad-tailed Hummingbird and Ruby-throated Hummingbird, the females look quite different from the males.
The female Rufous Hummingbird is going to be much dimmer in color, as it will look a little more green overall than orange.
They have no colorful gorget and maintain a cream-colored chest. The walls of the chest have a sprinkling of orange, but they are nowhere near as vivid as the males are.
Rufous Hummingbirds are also nectar-feeders. However, these species often tend to be temporary visitors. While they are gorgeous guests, they aren’t very kind and are likely to chase off other hummingbirds, at least until they are ready to move along themselves!
The Rufous Hummingbird will make its home in open woodlands, much like the Broad-tailed Hummingbird.
4# Calliope Hummingbird
The Calliope Hummingbird is an indescribably gorgeous animal that spends its summers breeding in the high elevations of Montana and the midwestern mountains. These are a species of low conversationalist concern, meaning that their wild populations are at a good level.
The Calliope Hummingbird is another species with green feathers. However, the lines of magenta feathers along the gorget completely separate this hummingbird from the males of any other species. When a male Calliope Hummingbird flares his gorget, it looks like a ruffled collar.
The female Calliope looks pretty similar to a female Ruby-throated or Broad-tailed Hummingbird. However, the female Calliope Hummingbird is going to have more distinctive and defined dots down her throat, mimicking the pattern of the male’s flared gorget without the magenta colors.
Like other hummingbirds found in Montana, the Calliope Hummingbird is best attracted to open woodlands and feasts primarily on nectar and small insects.
5# Black-chinned Hummingbird
The Black-chinned Hummingbird is a brilliant and distinctive species found only in the westernmost parts of Montana. They are well-known for the black feathers found on the gorget of the males.
However, when the light hits them just right, their iridescent feathers are going to come alive with a spark of purple.
Adult male Black-chinned Hummingbirds have green body feathers with white chests. As mentioned, their gorgets are what their species is named after.
The black feathers along their chin are positively gorgeous when they are flared enough to reveal the sparks of purple underneath.
Female Black-chinned Hummingbirds do not have a black chin. They have a green body and back feathers, with a belly of mixed feathers.
Their stomachs have some gray, black, and white feathers that help to make the females of this species a little more distinctive than some others.
In particular, these are a little easier to distinguish from the Ruby-throated Hummingbird and Broad-tailed Hummingbird than one might initially think.
These birds will breed in their summer range, in the upper western part of the United States. However, they will likely start to migrate in early fall, as they spend their winters along the Gulf Coast.
For these little birds, that is a difficult journey! Along the way, they are going to spend a lot of time eating and restoring their energy so they can reach their destination safely, all so they can return in springtime again.
6# Anna’s Hummingbird
Unlike all of the other birds on this list so far, Anna’s Hummingbird is likely to spend the entire year along the west coast of the United States.
These birds are of low concern and remain in vast populations in areas of open woodlands by the coast. Anna’s Hummingbird is another one you are unlikely to see in Montana, despite being the most common species of hummingbird along the Pacific coast.
Anna’s Hummingbird has a vibrant body. The male Anna’s Hummingbird is going to have a brilliant emerald green back, and the walls of its stomach are going to be outlined by this green, too.
Unlike all of the other male hummingbirds on this list, Anna’s Hummingbird’s gorget feathers are not the only location of metallic iridescence on this animal.
The crown of a male Anna’s Hummingbird is also going to have deep feathers colored like a dusky sunset. These feathers might also be found around the eyes of these birds, too.
Female Anna’s Hummingbirds are going to not have these brilliant crown or throat feathers. Rather, they have vivid green flight feathers and a grayish stomach. Along their throat, they might have some black dotting leading to their bill.
To attract these birds to your yard, it would be a good idea to provide nectar and native flowers for these birds to drink from.
These are some of the most beautiful birds. Though you will rarely see multiple hummingbirds together because of their solitary and feisty nature, it is a treat for the eyes.
When it groups, hummingbirds aren’t called a flock like most other species of birds might be. A group of hummingbirds can be called a bouquet, a shimmer, a glittering, or a tune of hummingbirds. There’s almost nothing more beautiful than that!
7# Rivoli’s Hummingbird
If you ever see Rivoli’s Hummingbird in Montana, it would be because that bird was an accidental migrant to the state. It would be very rare to see them so far north.
However, if you are ever graced with the appearance of one, you should be sure to treasure it! These are genuinely stunning animals that cannot be compared to any other.
An adult male Rivoli’s Hummingbird is going to have a black body with dark green back feathers cresting between the shoulders of this bird.
Its gorget is going to be a shimmering cyan, while its cap is a deep violet. These colors come together to create a real gem of a bird! The Rivoli’s Hummingbird is certainly a sight to be desired.
A female of this species is going to have the same splendid greens as the male, though it is quite a bit brighter.
Its stomach is going to be a cream or off-white color. I would best identify a female Rivoli’s Hummingbird by the white liner dropping down from its eyes.
The Rivoli’s Hummingbird nests in the shrubs of forests and lives year-round on the Gulf Coast, though some might venture closer to Texas during the breeding season, as well.
The Rivoli’s Hummingbird is the second-largest hummingbird in North America, making this brilliantly colored animal a real sight to be seen. Even with its size, Rivoli’s Hummingbird is certainly much nicer than most other species of hummingbirds.
These hummingbirds are not going to push others around and bully them. This is certainly quite abnormal for a hummingbird, however, it is a welcome and kind change within the species, and it certainly makes the Rivoli’s Hummingbird a super interesting species! To see one of these Montana would be very unlikely, though such a sight is never impossible.
While you might not think of Montana as a place where you would see hummingbirds, the truth is that these beautiful creatures abound in this state during the summer season.
If you’re lucky enough to spot one of these feathered friends, take a moment to appreciate their beauty and graceful movements. And if you’re really lucky, you might even get to watch them feed on the nectar of some stunning wildflowers.