The following 4 hummingbird species are known to occur in Iowa.
Most of the hummingbirds arrive in April to May in Iowa.
Ruby-throated Hummingbirds, Archilochus colubris - Ruby-throated hummingbirds mostly occur from late April or May. They are usually gone by the end of September. Males are usually the ones to arrive first to stake out their feeding territories, and to depart first. Females and juveniles follow about two weeks later.
The male has a ruby-red throat, a white collar, an emerald green back and a forked tail.
The female has a green back and tail feathers that are banded white, black and grey-green.
Rufous Hummingbirds, Selasphorus rufus - Rare and Casual Visitors
These hummingbirds are usually found in gardens and at feeders. These birds are fearless, and are known for chasing away other hummingbirds and even larger birds, or rodents away from their favorite nectar feeders and flowers.
Males can easily be identified by their glossy orange-red throats.
Females have whitish, speckled throats, green backs and crowns, and rufous, white-tipped tail feathers.
Rufous Hummingbird versus the similar Ruby-throated Hummingbird (Identification)
Anna's Hummingbirds, Calypte anna
One of the larger and the most vocal hummingbirds in the United States, where it is the only species to produce a song; specifically the males produce a complex series of scratchy noises, sounding like a sharp "chee-chee-chee; when moving from flower to flower, they emit toneless "chip" vocalizations. All other hummingbirds in the United States are mostly silent.
They are well known for their territorial behavior; the male makes elaborate dive displays at other birds and sometimes even at people. At the bottom of their dives, they produce high-pitched loud popping sounds with their tail feathers.
Males have glossy dark rose-red throats and crowns, which may appear black or dark purple in low light. The underside is mostly greyish; and the back metallic green.
Females have light grey chests with white and red spotting on the throat, greenish back and white tipped tails.
They resemble the Costa's Hummingbirds, but the male's Costa's Hummingbird's gorget (throat feathers) is longer than that of the Anna's. They are larger than the Rufous Hummingbirds and lack the rusty coloration of the Rufous Hummingbirds.
Green Violetears, Colibri thalassinus - Rare - They are mostly resident in Mexico and Central America, but some seasonal movements have been observed. They may wander north to the United States and even as far north as Canada.
Is it a Hummingbird or an Insect?
The Hawk Moths (often referred to as "Hummingbird Moth") is easily confused with hummingbirds, as they have similar feeding and swift flight patterns. (photo below)
These moths also hover in midair while they feed on nectar. Moths have a couple of sensors or "antennas" on top of the head, which are key identifiers.
If you see a hummingbird that doesn't appear to be any of the above, please e-mail comments / images to: firstname.lastname@example.org. Thanks!
Species Research by Sibylle Johnson
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