Rufous Hummingbirds (Selasphorus rufus)

Rufous Hummingbird, photographed by Tom Grey

Rufous Hummingbird, photographed by Tom Grey










Identifying Them:

Female Rufous Hummingbirds look a little different from males. They have a white neck with grey spots and green and brown colored wings. Both male and females’ height is approximately 3 1/2 – 3 3/4 inches tall with a wingspan of around 4 inches, but typically, females tend to be a little larger than males.

Male Rufous Hummingbirds have a sort of florescent, orange neck and light brown back / wings. Their upper chest is white and fully and the sides of their wings are a grey, brown.

Fun Fact: Rufous Hummingbirds look extremely similar to Allen’s Hummingbirds, and it’s incredibly difficult to distinguish the two birds.


Rufous Hummingbirds are found in many places. Parks, fields, open areas in forests, meadows, thickets and edges of forests are sites that Rufous Hummingbirds definitely visit. In July and August, these hummingbirds migrate to the Rocky Mountains and other places nearby. Why this particular site? During this time, it is wildflower season in that area. Migrants inhabit all, if not, most elevations but mostly see to lowlands during the spring, and meadows upon mountains during the summer and fall.


Insects are caught by flying out and capturing them in the air. These hummingbirds are aggressive at all ages, for instance, males will chase off a female drinking from a feeder (even during the breeding season). Note: Male Rufous Hummingbirds can be very aggressive towards females. If they get agitated or irritated, they may fan out their tail feathers, and or males will flash their shiny, orange throats.

During courtship, males perform a flight where they fly in a circular shape when a female enters their breeding territory, But if females perch somewhere, males will switch to doing figure eights, low to the ground.

Nesting and Nestlings:

Females (alone) build the nest, which is a cup-shape with grass, moss, and other small plant-materials, bounded together with spider webs, and camouflaged with moss and lichen. Their nest is built, within 3 days of arrival at their mate’s breeding territory. They place the nest up to 30 feet above the ground (usually in coniferous or deciduous trees like maples, Douglas-fir or birch).

Females typically lay 2-3 eggs per breeding season which are white with around a half inch in length. She incubates these eggs for a period of 15-17 days (2 1/2 weeks) She feeds and takes care of the nestlings on her own, until they leave the nest, which is about 21 days (3 weeks) after birth.


Rufous Hummingbirds, mainly eat insects and nectar (like most hummingbirds). Brightly colored flowers like columbine, penstemon, Indian paintbrush, and lilies are favorited by these hummingbirds. Sometimes, these birds, will eat spiders and or will steal trapped insects from their webs.

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About faithelise

I love learning about species of birds and want to be an Ornathologist. Writing about birds is my passion and I love every part of it!
This entry was posted in Bird Watching, nonfiction, Uncommon birds and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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