Family Trochilidae (Hummingbirds)

This family is native to the Americas and consists of over 300 different species, with the vast majority being found within Central and South America (namely the rainforests and lowlands).

There are also different subfamilies within this family (not unexpected when you consider the number of species)–but only one has members that find their way up to the United States and Canada: the Trochilinae subfamily (or hummingbirds).

These are the smallest of the birds, where most are somewhere between 3-to-5 inches in length, though the smallest is the bee hummingbird (at two inches) and the largest hummingbird is the giant hummingbird (at over nine inches in length).

Ruby-throated hummingbird at the nectar feeder

They received the name ‘hummingbird’ due to their rapid flapping of their wings as they hover at nectar feeders or flower. Due to the speed–it comes across as a ‘hum’ to the human ear.

As stated majority of the species are found within Central and South America, with only 18 species making it up to the US/Canada for part of the year (spring to fall). Only a handful of those 18 species have a wide distribution within the US, and they include the ruby-throated hummingbird (eastern US), the black-chinned hummingbird (southwest & western US), the rufous hummingbird (western US), the calliope and broad-tailed hummingbirds (also western US). The others all have patchy distributions through the US and Canada.

Hummingbirds are also protective of their feeding range, and will chase off other hummingbirds and other birds (we actually watched a ruby-throated hummingbird chase a sparrow away from our suet feeder last year) from the area.

Since they have such a high metabolism, they can enter a state of torpor at night and when food is scarce. This is a state that is similar to hibernation, where they are able to slow their metabolic rate down considerably–to where they almost look ‘dead’.

One way to attract multiple hummingbirds to your yard is to have numerous feeders throughout the yard. Plus planting flowers, and having flowering bushes also helps to attract hummingbirds, butterflies, and bees to your yard as well.

Again here is the list of the 18 species that make their way up from Central and South America:

Plain-capped starthroat

Green violet-ear

Lucifer Hummingbird

Broad-billed Hummingbird

White-eared Hummingbird

Blue-throated Hummingbird

Magnificent Hummingbird

Violet-crowned Hummingbird

Berylline Hummingbird

Buff-bellied Hummingbird

Anna’s Hummingbird

Costa’s Hummingbird

Black-chinned Hummingbird

Ruby-throated Hummingbird

Calliope Hummingbird

Broad-tailed Hummingbird

Allen’s Hummingbird

Rufous Hummingbird

So the photography goals for this family: get a picture of a hummingbird making (or sitting on its) nest; a picture of any other member of the family that can be spotted within the US (meaning a trip out to the western states), and possibly a picture of another member that is found down within Central or South America (yet another possible trip).

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