Meet the Brilliantly Colored Buff-Bellied Hummingbird

Buff-bellied hummingbirds shimmer in southern Texas. Find out what they look like, what foods they eat, and where they build their nests.

What Does a Buff-Bellied Hummingbird Look Like?

buff bellied hummingbirdCourtesy Emily Zamora
Colorful buff-bellied hummingbirds look like no other bird in America

It’s easy to tell if you’re looking at a buff-bellied hummingbird; there isn’t any other hummingbird in the United States that resembles it. Trademark buff-bellied traits include a red bill with a black tip, shimmery green feathers along the back, a brown breast and reddish brown tail feathers.

Since their plumage is very similar, females and males are difficult to tell apart. Regardless of gender, they tend to chase away other hummingbirds that stop by their favorite food sources.

“This is a buff-bellied hummingbird (above). The moment when I first noticed the species almost a decade ago now was what got me into hummingbirds and birding, and now I travel all over the world just to get a glimpse of different species. The tail fan is what I wait for, with all those pretty rufous/orange colors,” says Emily Zamora.

Learn how to identify a Costa’s hummingbird and a rufous hummingbird.

Range and Habitat

buff bellied hummingbirdCourtesy Ruth Hoyt
Southern Texas is the best place to spot these tiny fliers

Head to the Lone Star State if you’d like to find a buff-bellied hummingbird in the U.S. The southern point of Texas is the only place in the country where you’ll be able to find them. But there’s good news, too—this hummingbird lives there year-round, so you won’t have to make a special trip during migration or breeding season! Less commonly, these hummers will extend their range through the southeastern edge of Texas and into southern Louisiana after the breeding season ends.

Buff-bellied hummingbirds have a variety of habitats. You might spot them in brushy fields or around the woods, or you might add one to your life list after seeing it in suburban gardens or a local park.

“I live and work in Deep South Texas, down near the U.S./Mexico border. A friend of mine invited me to photograph buff-bellied hummingbirds (above) with him a while back during the winter. Both the time and the results were wonderful!” says Ruth Hoyt.

Discover the amazing Lower Rio Grande Valley birds.

What Does a Buff-Bellied Hummingbird Eat?

Buff-bellied Hummingbird (amazilia yucatanensis)Nancy Strohm/Getty Images
Buff-bellied hummingbird perched on a feeder

These adorable birds visit backyards, and they will come to hummingbird feeders. Offer the the perfect sugar water mixture to attract them. In gardens, they especially enjoy sipping nectar from red salvia plants and other tube-shaped flowers. Buff-bellied hummingbirds also eat mosquitoes and other small insects.

Learn how to attract hummingbirds with 10 expert tips.

Buff-Bellied Hummingbird Nest

Buff-bellied hummingbirds generally build nests in a few favorite species of trees, including hackberry, pecan, ash and Texas ebony. They’ll position the nest in the fork of the tree.

Like other female hummingbirds, buff-bellieds lay two eggs per brood and do all the work of nest-building and raising the babies alone—making them the ultimate bird supermoms.

Here’s everything you need to know about hummingbird nests.

Emily Hannemann
Emily Hannemann is an associate digital editor for Birds & Blooms. She has a bachelor’s degree in English and a master’s degree in magazine writing from the University of Missouri - Columbia. When she’s not writing and editing, you’ll find her swimming, running, or hiking. She knows blue jays are controversial, but she loves them anyway.