Over 320 species are known to science. All are found only in the Western Hemisphere; most live in the tropical forests of Central and South America. Almost half of the known species have been reported from Ecuador, a South American country slightly larger than California.
Of the 26 species of hummingbirds that have been reported north of Mexico, only 15 are found here every year. If you live east of the Mississippi River, you are unlikely to see more than one species, the Ruby-throated. At least 4 species are seen annually in coastal Texas and Louisiana, but small numbers of several other species have appeared along the Gulf Coast in fall and winter. From the Rocky Mountains west you may find from 4 to 7 species annually, with southern California boasting 3 resident and 4 migrant species.
But the greatest diversity of hummingbird species in the United States is found along the U.S.-Mexico border from western Texas to southern Arizona. At least thirteen species can be found in the southeastern corner of Arizona each year.
Q: Why does southeastern Arizona have so many different species of hummingbirds?
A: As with other kinds of real estate, the secret of wildlife habitat is location. Southeastern Arizona lies at the crossroads of five major biogeographic regions. The plants and animals of its mountains, deserts, grasslands and streamside forests include species typical of the Rocky Mountains, the Sierra Madre of Mexico, and the Chihuahuan, Sonoran and Mojave deserts as well as species found nowhere else on earth. Its birdlife is particularly diverse because many species pass through in migration between nesting grounds in the northwestern U.S. and western Canada and wintering grounds in Mexico and Central America.
NOTE: The white hummingbird pictured above is very rare. According to hummingbird expert and author Nancy Newfield of Metairie, Louisiana, white hummers are indeed rare, an average of only one or two being reported in the eastern United States each year. She also explains that there are varying degrees of albinism in the bird world. The bird pictured above was partially albino, since it didn't display the absence of pigment in its eyes.
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