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Hummingbirds In Virginia

Hummingbirds in Virginia

Hummingbirds are fascinating creatures known for their vibrant colors, unique flying abilities, and their ability to hover in mid-air. These tiny birds are a delight to observe and attract to your garden. While hummingbirds are commonly associated with tropical regions, they can also be found in Virginia, adding a touch of magic to the state’s natural beauty. In this article, we will explore the different species of hummingbirds found in Virginia, their behavior, habitat, and how to attract them to your garden.

Species of Hummingbirds in Virginia

Virginia is home to several species of hummingbirds, with the most common being the Ruby-throated Hummingbird (Archilochus colubris). These small birds are known for their iridescent green feathers and the males’ vibrant red throat patch, which gives them their name. Ruby-throated Hummingbirds are migratory birds, spending their winters in Central America and Mexico and returning to Virginia during the spring and summer months.

Another species that can occasionally be spotted in Virginia is the Rufous Hummingbird (Selasphorus rufus). These birds have a reddish-brown coloration and are known for their long migrations, traveling from their breeding grounds in Alaska and Canada to their wintering grounds in Mexico and the southern United States. While less common than the Ruby-throated Hummingbird, sightings of Rufous Hummingbirds in Virginia have been reported.

Habitat and Behavior

Hummingbirds thrive in a variety of habitats, including forests, meadows, and gardens. In Virginia, they can be found in both urban and rural areas, as long as there are suitable food sources and nesting sites available. These birds are attracted to areas with a diverse range of flowering plants, as they rely on nectar as their primary source of energy.

Hummingbirds have a unique flying ability that allows them to hover in mid-air and fly in any direction, including backward. Their wings beat at an incredible rate of up to 80 times per second, enabling them to stay stationary while feeding on nectar from flowers. They also have a high metabolism and need to consume large amounts of nectar to fuel their energy-intensive flight.

Attracting Hummingbirds to Your Garden

If you want to attract hummingbirds to your garden in Virginia, there are several steps you can take:

  • Plant a variety of nectar-rich flowers such as bee balm, cardinal flower, and trumpet vine. These flowers provide the essential nectar hummingbirds need for sustenance.
  • Include native plants in your garden, as they are more likely to attract hummingbirds. Native plants have co-evolved with local wildlife and provide a familiar food source.
  • Provide a water source such as a birdbath or a shallow dish with fresh water. Hummingbirds need to bathe and drink water regularly.
  • Hang hummingbird feeders filled with a sugar-water solution. The ratio for the solution is four parts water to one part white granulated sugar. Avoid using honey or artificial sweeteners, as they can be harmful to hummingbirds.
  • Place the feeders and flowers in a visible and accessible location. Hummingbirds are attracted to bright colors, so consider using red-colored feeders or adding red accents to your garden.
  • Maintain a pesticide-free garden. Pesticides can be harmful to hummingbirds and other beneficial insects.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

1. How can I identify a Ruby-throated Hummingbird?

The Ruby-throated Hummingbird is a small bird with iridescent green feathers and a vibrant red throat patch in males. Females have a white throat and belly. They are about 3 to 4 inches long and have a slender body shape.

2. When do hummingbirds migrate to Virginia?

Hummingbirds typically arrive in Virginia during the spring, around late March or early April. They migrate back to their wintering grounds in Central America and Mexico during the fall, usually by late September or early October.

3. How can I create a hummingbird-friendly garden?

To create a hummingbird-friendly garden, plant a variety of nectar-rich flowers, provide a water source, hang hummingbird feeders, and maintain a pesticide-free environment. Native plants and bright colors can also attract hummingbirds.

4. How often should I clean my hummingbird feeder?

Hummingbird feeders should be cleaned and refilled with fresh nectar every 3 to 4 days, especially during hot weather. Regular cleaning prevents the growth of mold and bacteria, ensuring the health of the hummingbirds.

5. Can I use artificial nectar instead of sugar water?

No, it is not recommended to use artificial nectar or honey in hummingbird feeders. Artificial nectar lacks the necessary nutrients, and honey can promote the growth of harmful bacteria. Stick to a sugar-water solution with a ratio of four parts water to one part white granulated sugar.

6. Are hummingbirds beneficial to my garden?

Absolutely! Hummingbirds are important pollinators and help in the reproduction of many flowering plants. By attracting hummingbirds to your garden, you are promoting biodiversity and supporting the ecosystem.


Hummingbirds bring a touch of enchantment to Virginia with their vibrant colors and unique flying abilities. By understanding their behavior, habitat, and how to attract them to your garden, you can create a haven for these delightful creatures. Planting nectar-rich flowers, providing water sources, and maintaining a pesticide-free environment are key steps to attracting hummingbirds. By taking these measures, you can enjoy the beauty and grace of hummingbirds in your own backyard.