Hummingbirds are wonders of nature. They are fascinating to watch as they hover and dip to sip nectar from flowers. Hummingbirds find flowers by sight rather than smell which is why bright colors attract them. There are 18 species of hummingbird that call Texas home during some portion of the year. Because Texas has diverse ecosystems, the Texas Department of Parks and Wildlife offers this list of hummingbird varieties indexed by region.
Texas Hummingbird Characteristics and Migration
The most common hummingbirds to visit Texas gardens are the: Rufous, Blue-throated, Anna’s, Lucifer, Black-chinned, and Ruby-throated hummingbird. However, the Texas Hummingbird Roundup—an annual report from Texas gardeners about their hummingbird observations— allows for common as well as rare hummingbird sightings. A Texas gardener who wants to participate in the hummingbird rounds up can download recording forms and instructions from the Texas Department of Parks and Wildlife.
Hummingbirds migrate south during colder months in Texas and are permanent populations only in a few coastal regions. Although the Ruby-throated hummingbird migration map is limited to that variety, the dates of first spring sightings are good approximations for all migrating varieties. Some hummingbirds migrate up to 2000 miles in a season.
The name hummingbird is said to be descriptive of the sound the hummingbird makes as its wings beat up to 75 times per second—they hum. Male hummingbirds are more brightly colored than females and smaller. But even the largest hummingbird weighs less than 20 grams and most weigh around 5 grams.
One characteristic that is almost unique in the bird kingdom is the ability of hummingbirds to hover and to fly backwards. Hummingbirds are intelligent birds—they remember good places to visit from one year to the next.
Texas Garden Plants to Attract and Feed Hummingbirds
Hummingbirds are attracted by brightly-colored flowers usually red, orange, or dark-pink. Trumpet shaped flowers are preferred. They also appreciate shade of nearby trees to rest and the availability of water. A hummingbird feeder filled with sugar water (1 cup sugar to 4 cups water—use only real, table sugar) will also attract and feed hummingbirds. Texas landscape plants that hummingbirds will seek out include:
- Butterfly Bush
- Trumpet vine
- Morning Glory
- Trumpet Creeper
- Bee Balm
- Various Salvia species
Give a garden or landscape the added attraction of hummingbirds by selected plants they like. A gardener can relax in the morning or evening over coffee or wine watching them flitter by. Be aware that hummingbirds are territorial, so a gardener may want several feeders or plant locations.