Photography by Shay Redmond
There are five species of hummingbird that are regularly found in Canada - Anna's, Rufous, Black-chinned and Calliope in British Columbia, parts of Alberta, and the Yukon, and Ruby-throated in provinces east of the Rockies from BC to Newfoundland and Labrador. So far, no hummingbirds have been reported in the NWT or Nunavut.
Vagrants are birds that are found outside of the range where we expect to see them. For years, people believed that the Ruby-throated Hummingbird was the only species found in eastern Canada and the eastern U.S. Some people still believe this but recent research in both countries has shown that other species can be found in the east and some of them, such as Rufous Hummingbirds are observed on a fairly regular basis.
Rufous, Anna's, Black-chinned, Broad-tailed, Green-violet Ear, and Broad-billed hummingbirds have all been documented in eastern Canada. More than 20 species have been documented east of the Mississippi River in the U.S. in the past 25 years. We really don't know how often these other species occur in Canada because hummingbirds move so quickly and can be so hard to identify, particularly when they are not expected.
There has been very little research conducted east of the Rocky Mountains to determine what other hummingbirds might visit us during the winter months. If fact, most people take their feeders down early in the fall so any hummingbirds that do visit can easily go unnoticed.
Please contact Hummingbirds Canada to report an unexpected species or a wintering hummer in your yard or neighborhood. The magic cutoff date for Ruby-throated Hummingbirds is October 1st in most provinces (October 15th in Ontario). The chances of a Ruby-throated lingering past this date is quite small. Most Ruby-throats do not return until after April 15th so hummingbirds observed earlier should also be reported.