Such is the case for the hummingbird family, Trochilinae. The 112 species on the OAU list covers Central America, Mexico, the United States and Canada. The 23 species on the ABA list covers the United States and Canada.
Taking into account that nine of the twenty three ABA species make the list as either occasional visitors or rare strays, the statistics strongly lean to supporting the hypothesis of hummingbird diversity as a function of environment. Hummingbirds thrive in tropical and subtropical environments.
Western North American hosts most native hummingbird species, with the Ruby-throated Hummingbird (Archilochus colubri) the only native breeding species east of the Mississippi river.
Despite their predominantly migratory behavior, a few species overwinter in and around their breeding areas. Anna's hummingbirds, for example, winter along the West Coast in California and Oregon.
Hummingbird territorial behavior often translates into long term relationships between homeowners and species. Households that place feeders around the yard often see the same species throughout the season, and in some instances, the same species return from season to season.
The western breeding species choose many different habitats from desert scrub lands to alpine forests.
Types of Birds
They winter in warmer latitudes and fly north or south to temperate summer climates for breeding, depending, of course, on which side of the equator they call home.
The Rufous Hummingbird, for example, breeds as far north as Alaska. Black-chinned hummingbirds to breeding in western desert and mountain areas.
Hummingbird statistics differ slightly, depending on the source. Either sixteen or seventeen different breeding species inhabit North American territory. Texas and Arizona lead the United States in hummingbird species diversity.
Western North America provides prime habitat for native hummingbirds. Traditionally the Ruby-throated Hummingbird is identified as the only breeding hummingbird species of the East Coast.
Southeast stay at home birders' life lists need not look totally hummingbird deficient. Often migrating hummingbird species lose their way or detour through Southeast states during migration.
Because adult hummingbirds feed primarily on nectar, landscaping for them can be as easy as planting their favorite native flowering plants.
Research at the University of British Columbia shows that hummingbirds have a good memory. Therefore, once attracted to a yard, the odds of their returning, year after year, increases.
They make great guests and their curiosity often translates into keeping the land owners company during regular visits to flowering bushes.
Additional research tentatively demonstrates a hummingbird's propensity to be a creature of dietary habitat. Some species can be totally or partially dependent on specific flowers as food sources. Consequently, any particular species' habitat depends on whether their flower food source(s) grows at high altitudes only, low altitudes only, or a combination of both.
© 2007-2013 Patricia A. Michaels