Did You Know: Arizona Has Most Hummingbird Species In US

By Nadine Arroyo Rodriguez
Published: Friday, January 22, 2016 - 5:00pm
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(Photo by Nadine Arroyo Rodriguez - KJZZ)
Ornithologist David Pearson calls out to the anna’s hummingbird. One of them responds while flying around an orange tree.

They are among the smallest of their kind with hundreds of species among them, and Arizona is the home to several of them.

You may have seen a few hummingbirds around the yard, and heard them, too. It’s not unusual to have them in the Valley. Did You Know … Arizona has the most hummingbird species in the U.S.?

David Pearson is an ornithologist at the Arizona State University School of Life Sciences.

“As you get farther south toward Tucson, and south of Tucson, then you get up to 14 species coming in. And many of them are, they’re only ones that are coming from Mexico, barely getting up into Mexico.”

While talking outside Pearson’s home near the Mesa-Tempe border a few of the birds fly around. He said there are more than 300 species of hummingbirds in the world. Most are found in tropical regions in the Americas. Over time, several moved north and for some reason have made Arizona their home.

“If you go down to the Huachuca, the Chiricahua, the Santa Rita mountains in say late July, early August some of the valleys there, the canyons have got feeders up where they use up quarts and quarts of sugar water every day. There’s hundreds of hummingbirds coming in.”

The most commonly found hummingbirds in the valley are the anna’s with red feathers around the head and neck and the Costa’s with a purple cap. Local vegetation, flowers and homes with nectar feeders have helped maintain these small birds in the region. Pearson said a feeder with water and sugar, will get you a visit.

“Even in apartments, three or four stories up, you hang a hummingbird feeder out on your balcony and anna’s are gonna very likely find it.”

The sounds you hear come from the males. It’s a mating call and dance. The female hummingbirds take a different role. They make the nest, lay and incubate the eggs and feed the young.

“Well, almost everyone is gonna have a little nest. If you look carefully it’s a tiny little nest. It’s a little bit bigger than a thimble.”

Pearson said hummingbirds are daring little things and are intrigued by the color red. So if you sit outside and wear, say a red patch, don’t be surprised if the hummingbird comes hovering around you. Don’t swat it, because once it realizes it’s nothing, it just flies away.

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