Of all the families of bird species, the Trochilidae - Hummingbirds - are surely among the most admired. Found only in the New World, there are more than 300 known species, the majority of which can be found exclusively in the northern Andes Mountains. There are, however, species that range from the southernmost tip of South America, north to lower Canada.
Aside from their size - the bee hummingbird (Mellisuga helenae), found in the Cuban archipelago is the smallest living species of bird - and their ability to hover in mid-flight while sipping nectar from flowers, hummingbirds are also renowned for their startling long migrations. The ruby throated hummingbird (Archilochus colubris), which summers in the eastern United States and southern Canada, also winters in southern Mexico and Central America; their annual migrations involve nearly 2,000 miles of flight.
The importance of hummingbirds as pollinators, particularly when bee colony collapse disorder has affected the population of the western honey bee (Apis mellifera) in North America and western Europe, has also increased interest in these species.
There are a number of books in print on hummingbirds, from general field guides to detailed instructions on how to plan gardens and offer feeders to attract them to backyard sanctuaries. Many of these works provide detailed information on physical descriptions, physiology, behavior, vocalization (yes, hummingbirds do know the words), population ranges and migration.
Book List – 15 Books On Hummingbirds
Hummingbirds: A Folding Pocket Guide To Familiar Species
By James Kavanagh - Pocket naturalist guide series - Waterford Press, 2013.
Covering 20 U.S. and Canadian species, plus a few exotics from Mexico and Central America, this guide includes information on anatomy, diet, vocalizations and methods for attracting them. The illuminated guide is laminated and folds into a pocket-friendly 2 by 8 inch size.
The Hummingbirds Of North America - 2nd Edition
By Paul A. Johnsgard - Smithsonian Institution Scholarship Press, 2016.
Considered to be the classic guide for hummingbirds, Johnsgard covers all the species that breed in North America, plus 25 Mexican species. It provides full descriptions, including evolutionary history, anatomical and physiological specializations, comparative ecology, behavior and reproductive biology. Includes range maps, identification keys and a bibliography.
Hummingbirds: A Life-Size Guide To Every Species
By Michael Fogden, Marianne Tylor and Sheri L. Williamson - Harper Design, 2014.
Profiles all 338 known species of hummingbirds, the great majority of which are native to Central and South America. The life-size photographs, range and migration maps and descriptions of plumage, behavior and habitat make this the most comprehensive guide to hummingbirds.
The Complete Book Of Hummingbirds, 2nd Edition
By Tony Tilford - Thunder Bay Press, 2015.
This illustrated reference guide includes a comprehensive overview of the biology, evolution, nesting behavior and migration patterns of hummingbirds. It includes a guide to attracting hummingbirds through plantings and feeders.
North American Hummingbirds: An Identification Guide
By George C. West - University of New Mexico Press, 2015.
Concise descriptions help birdwatchers identify North American species by shape, color, size and proportions of the body, bill and tail; includes numerous illustrations.
Hummingbirds Of North America: The Photographic Guide
By Steve N.G. Howell - Princeton University Press, 2013.
A field guide with detailed information on plumage variation, behavior, range and seasonal distribution.
Hummingbirds - By Stan Tekiela
By Stan Tekiela - Backyard bird series - Adventure Publications, 2015.
A short but detailed field guide to the hummingbirds of North America, including tips on how to create local habitats and feeders to attract them.
Hummingbirds - By Ronald I. Orenstein
By Ronald I. Orenstein - Firefly Books, 2014.
More than just a beautiful "coffee table book," this large-format volume contains both numerous photographs and detailed descriptions of all facets of the natural history of hummingbirds.
About Hummingbirds: A Guide For Children
By Cathryn Still and John Still - Peachtree Publishers, 2015.
A short but detailed description of hummingbirds, written to inspire young readers.
The Art Of Hummingbird Gardening: How To Make Your Backyard Into A Beautiful Home For Hummingbirds
By Mathew Tekulsky - Skyhorse Publishing, 2015.
Describes how to create a garden with plants that provide nectar for hummingbirds. Includes descriptions of habitats, conservation methods and sources for beneficial plants.
Pollinator Friendly Gardening: Gardening For Bees, Butterflies And Other Pollinators
By Rhonda Fleming Hayes - Voyageur Press, 2016.
With a broader scope than just hummingbirds, this volume covers plant selection, habitat-building and growing practices.
Grow Native: Bringing Natural Beauty To Your Garden
By Lynn M. Steiner - Cool Springs Press, 2016.
The underlying concept is that native plants and pollinators, including hummingbirds, have co-evolved over time. As a result, these plants are most attractive to and beneficial for hummingbirds. This volume describes how to plant and care for many native species of plants, including tips on determining the proper type of soil, watering and fertilization.
Hummingbirds: How To Attract And Feed With A Backyard Habitat
By Brian Grant - CreateSpace, 2016.
This small book describes the best ways to attract and feed the 12 North American species of hummingbirds with flowers and feeders; includes a nectar recipe.
Hummingbird Plants Of The Southwest
By Marcy Scott - Rio Nuevo Press, 2015.
Comprehensive guide to designing and planting a nectar garden, consisting primarily of native plants of the region, to attract hummingbird species of the Southwest United States.
Attracting Hummingbirds And Butterflies In Tropical Florida: A Companion For Gardeners
By Roger L. Hammer.
With more than 30 years' experience, the author describes plant selection and tips for establishing a thriving refuge for hummingbirds.
Both novice and expert birders will find these books to be of invaluable help in finding, identifying and understanding hummingbirds. Homeowners who wish to attract these species to their yards, either for just the pleasure of seeing them in the area or as pollinators for their flowers and vegetable gardens, will also learn the techniques to help them succeed. These titles can be found, or interlibrary loaned, through local public libraries. They can also be purchased at, or ordered through, local bookstores.
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