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Hummingbirds in Washington

Every summer, the smallest birds in America nest in the mountains and in the coastal valleys of Washington

Best time: March–August

Anna's hummingbird

Hummingbirds can be often spotted along the Pacific Northwest Coast. The smallest migrating birds, which are known for the humming sound created by their wings, are native to North and South America.

From four hummingbird species found in Washington, only Anna’s hummingbirds can be seen all year round. Rufous, Calliope, and Black-chinned hummingbirds are migrating species, and the best time to observe them in Washington is during the warmer period of the year, from March to August. They become especially common in late summer after they are done with breeding and start to accumulate fat for their long journey south. These amazing tiny birds complete their migration solo, covering up to 500 miles (800 km).

Anna's Hummingbirds

Anna's hummingbirds (Calypte anna) can be spotted in parks and gardens across Washington. Males are easily recognized due to their bright magenta throats. Females look more modest with green heads and feathers, black tails, and short straight bills. Anna's hummingbirds are common in the Puget Trough ecoregion, stretching from the Cascades to the Olympic Mountains.

Rufous Hummingbirds

Rufous hummingbirds (Selasphorus rufus) arrive at their breeding grounds in Washington in early spring. In September, they migrate south to Mexico and other Central American countries. They usually nest in the mountains and could be found in Long Beach and Willapa National Wildlife Refuge.

Rare Calliope hummingbirds (Selasphorus calliope) can be seen in Washington from March to August. They nest mostly in the mountains and migrate south for the winter. Black-chinned hummingbirds (Archilochus alexandri) also arrive in Washington in March, but they start their winter migration as early as July. Even though they are quite rare, it's possible to spot black-chinned hummingbirds near the city of Spokane and in Turnbull National Wildlife Refuge in northeastern part of the state.

Hummingbirds feed on nectar, like the one found in honeysuckle flowers. So planting certain kinds of flowers is a good way to attract more tiny birds to your garden. Another way to attract hummingbirds is to put out feeders, filled with sugary water.

Practical info

When can you spot hummingbirds in Washington?

Hummingbirds can be observed in Washington during the warmer months, from March through August. Varieties such as Rufous, Calliope, and Black-chinned hummingbirds migrate and breed in Washington, while Anna's hummingbirds are native and can be seen year-round. Late summer is the optimal time to spot hummingbirds as they prepare for their migration south by accumulating fat after breeding. Show more

Where is the best place to see Rufous hummingbirds in Washington?

Rufous hummingbirds can be sighted in Washington's Long Beach area and the Willapa National Wildlife Refuge. These birds are rare in the state and migrate south in September after breeding. Visiting these sites will provide the best opportunity to see Rufous hummingbirds, although locating them still requires a bit of luck and scouting in the right spots. Show more

How can I make my garden attractive to hummingbirds in Washington?

Planting flowers such as honeysuckle, fuchsia, and sage is an effective way to attract hummingbirds to gardens in Washington. Providing these flowers attracts hummingbirds by offering a source of nectar, and their vivid hues and shapes are appealing to these birds. Another great way to attract them is to position a feeder with sugary water, but clean it regularly and replace the water to avoid harmful bacteria. Show more

What kind of flowers do hummingbirds consume in Washington?

Hummingbirds in Washington feed on different types of flowers, including honeysuckle, fuchsia, and sage. These flowers have compelling colors and forms that hummingbirds notice. Other popular flowers hummingbirds consume are columbines, penstemons, and coral bells. Picking flowers that blossom throughout the season offers a stable food source and meets hummingbirds' dietary preferences. Show more

Are there any hummingbird sanctuary locations or parks in Washington?

Specific hummingbird sanctuary parks do not exist in Washington. However, Turnbull National Wildlife Refuge is a highly recommended spot in the northern part of the state for bird watching in general, hummingbirds included. In addition, Mount Rainier National Park and Olympic National Park are great venues to witness hummingbirds in their natural habitats alongside other fauna and flora forms. Show more

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