Hummingbirds found in South Carolina, USA
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Following listed (with photos) are hummingbird species that have been reported in South Carolina
Ruby-throated Hummingbirds (Archilochus colubris) - Native breeders. Arrive in late March or early April for the breeding season; return to their wintering territories in September or October.
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.
WHITE Hummingbird Sightings (Leucistic / Albino) - Probably a Ruby-throated.
Rufous Hummingbirds (Selasphorus rufus) - Uncomming wintering 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.
Female Ruby-throated Hummingbirds resemble the Rufous Hummingbird females. However, the female Rufous can be identified by the green feathers that cover her back and crown (top of the head).
Males also look alike, but they can be identified by their different throat colors (ruby-red in the Ruby-throated and orange-red in the Rufous Hummingbirds. The male Ruby-throated also has a slightly forked tail (not pointed as it is the case in the Rufous Hummingbird). The Ruby-throated is a little smaller than the Rufous Hummingbird.
Broad-billed Hummingbirds (Cynanthus latirostris) - Accidental / Vagrants - These mostly Mexican hummingbirds venture into the United States regularly; they mostly visit the southern parts - but a few vagrants travel as far north as Wisconsin. There are two state records; one was banded Jan 2008 in Rockville south of Charleston by Bill Hilton Jr. of Operation RubyThroat.
The male is glossy green above and on the chest. He has a deep blue throat. His straight and slender beak is red with a black tip. His slightly forked tail is dark above, and the under tail feathers are white.
The female is less colorful than the male. Her throat, chest and belly are light to medium grey. She has a white stripe over each eye.
Buff-bellied Hummingbirds (Amazilia yucatanensis) - Accidental Vagrant - only one state record; banded Dec 2001 in Columbia by Bill Hilton Jr. of Operation RubyThroat;
The male's throat is a metallic golden green and the red, dark-tipped bill is straight and slender. Back and head are mostly metallic olive. The lower chest ranges in coloration to whitish with various shades of grey or green, or buffy (yellowish-brown).
The tail and primary wing feathers are rufous (reddish-brown) and slightly forked. The underwing is white.
The female is generally less colorful than the male and has a a dark upper bill
Blue-throated Hummingbirds (Lampornis clemenciae) - Rare vagrants
The upper plumage is dull green, fading to a medium grey on the underside. It has white stripes behind the eyes and a narrower stripe extending backward from the corner of its relatively short bill, next to a blackish cheek patch.
The male can be identified by the iridescent blue throat patch (gorget), which may appear black or grey color in poor light.
The female and young have grey throats.
Black-chinned Hummingbirds (Archilochus alexandri) - Rare vagrants.
The male has a black, shimmering throat with a purple edge and pale feathers below that create a collar. However, unless the light is just right, the head looks all black. His back is green and there are some green feathers covering the chest.
The female is pale below (sometimes with a slightly speckled throat) and her back is green.
Calliope Hummingbirds (Stellula calliope) - Rare vagrants.
Allen's Hummingbirds (Selasphorus sasin) - Rare vagrants - Historically, these birds nested in coastal California and wintered in Mexico; but more and more of them are remaining in California year-round or are traveling to the eastern United States for the winter. The Allen's Hummingbird is often confused with the Rufous Hummingbird, but the Allen's can be identified by the green back whereas the Rufous Hummingbird has a coppery back.
The male has a throat that ranges in color from orange-red to yellow-orange, a back that is bright green, a rump that is rufous and its tail feathers are rufous tipped in black.
The female resembles the female Rufous Hummingbird, with a crown that is green, a breast that is white, a throat that is streaked and tail feathers that are rufous tipped in white. The only noticeable difference between the female Allen's Hummingbird and the female Rufous Hummingbird is that the female Allen's has narrower tail feathers. Other than that small detail, they are almost impossible to tell apart.
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. 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.
(Note: Hawk-moth photo refers to a European species, which is out of the range of the American hummingbirds - but the American hawk-moth looks quite similar.)
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!
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