Below listed are hummingbirds found (or possibly found) in West Virginia – with images of both males and females of each species.
Ruby-throated Hummingbirds (Archilochus colubris)
The only native hummingbird species known to breed in West Virginia. They arrive in April and leave in September or possibly October. Males usually depart first, and females and the young 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.
One White (Albino) Sighting (believed to be a ruby-throat)
Rufous Hummingbirds (Selasphorus rufus)
Vagrant and uncommon. However, several sightings have been documented throughout the years.
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.
Black-chinned Hummingbird (Archilochus alexandri)
Rare vagrants. The first official record dated back to 2006. In September 2015, two pairs were reported to be frequent backyard visitors by Jay Rumburg (j.rumburg [at] hotmail.com) who observed these pairs in Morgan County, WV. Once breeding activities have been confirmed, one can officially report these hummingbird to be native breeders in this state.
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.
Only one unconfirmed sighting.
Males and females look alike, except females tend to be smaller and have a slightly duller plumage.
The plumage on the back is grass green turning into a bronze on the rump and uppertail. There is a broad violet central spot on the upper chest. The violet-blue band along the chin typically connects to the violet-blue “ear” (for which their common name was derived). The squarish tail slightly notched with a broad dark blue bar at the end of the tail.
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.