In the United States, Hummingbirds are a backyard favorite. Many of us eagerly await their reappearance in the spring and spend the summer months gathering nectar and flowers for them. Our small pals, however, begin their lengthy return to their wintering grounds as summer gives way to autumn, and they vanish from our yards. During the winter, where do hummingbirds go? How long do they migrate for? Do all hummingbirds go to the same destination?
We explore these topics further in this article.
WHERE DO HUMMINGBIRDS GO IN THE WINTER?
Hummingbirds that spend their summers in the United States will go to Mexico and Central America during the winter. Some people don’t go as far as the others. The most popular U.S. slant will be examined in this essay. Hummingbirds are discussed in terms of where and when they migrate.
In the United States, a few hummingbirds decide to stay throughout winter or migrate much later than usual. When the weather gets really cold, check out this article to learn how hummingbirds deal with the cold and ways to keep your nectar from freezing if you have hummingbirds still visiting your yard.
WHY DO HUMMINGBIRDS MIGRATE?
Hummingbirds eat mostly flower nectar and tiny insects, and they migrate to follow their meal. In the United States, flowers and insects are plentiful. They travel south to warmer climates where food is still plentiful during the spring and summer, but as the weather turns colder and those food sources become more scarce, they move south.
They may, however, stay in hotter regions near the equator that are warm year-round, although fierce competition for food and territory can be found in the tropics. By heading north, they may avoid some conflicts over scarce resources since there are various hummingbird species in Mexico and Central America that don’t migrate.
HOW DO HUMMINGBIRDS KNOW WHEN TO MIGRATE?
They don’t decide based on the air temperature or changes in food supply, as you might think. While it is true when migrating short distances, it is somewhat different for the huge migration. The shift in daylight hours is what the hummingbirds are noting.
On a predictable cycle, the amount of time the sun is up during the day changes gradually throughout the year. It’s nature’s yearly calendar, to put it another way. Hummingbirds can tell when it’s time to go when the daylight hours shorten as the season progresses. So don’t be concerned about leaving your hummingbird feeder out “too late” in the season, as it won’t confuse them about when it’s time to migrate south.
MIGRATION ROUTES OF 12 OF THE MOST COMMON HUMMINGBIRDS
Some typical hummingbirds found in the United States have migration patterns, and where they spend their winters can be seen in the images below.
1. RUBY-THROATED HUMMINGBIRD
Medium to Long-Distance Migrant
Fall Migration: September – November
Spring Migration: March – May
In the eastern half of the country, the ruby-throated hummingbird is by far the most common. Some of Canada’s rubies will travel nearly 2,000 kilometers to Central America for wintering. They migrate south in the autumn, typically through Texas’ eastern coast, by crossing the Gulf of Mexico. By mid-September, they begin to leave the northern states, and by the end of October, they have all left.
A few have stayed in the United States. They will be found along the Gulf coast, in southern Florida, and in the south’s coastal districts, such as Carolina’s, throughout the winter. During the winter, the ruby-throats are in the United States. The majority of birds that spend their summer in Canada, for example, are usually those who spent the summer farther north.
Ruby-throated hummingbirds spend the winter in southern Mexico, the Yucatan, and Central America’s countries of Belize, Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador, Nicaragua, and Costa Rica. They seldom go south of Costa Rica.
Males begin northward earlier than females when it is time to return in the spring. Sightings start to appear in the Gulf Coast, the mid-Atlantic states, and New England and the Great Lakes around the middle of March.
2. RUFOUS HUMMINGBIRD
Fall Migration: July – September
Spring Migration: January – March
Rufous hummingbirds are the world’s most widely travelled hummingbird, as well as having the longest breeding range in the northern hemisphere. The Pacific northwest (Washington, Oregon, portions of Idaho and Montana), Canada’s west coast, and southern Alaska are their summer breeding grounds. The majority of them head south in the autumn, following the Rocky Mountains.
As early as July, Rufous will begin to retreat from their northernmost range in Alaska and Canada. If you live in a Rocky Mountain state, keep a lookout for them beginning in July through the fall because most of the migration will take place between August and September. By the end of October, the majority of them will have arrived in Mexico or the Gulf coast for wintering.
The round-trip travel of nearly 4,000 miles is boasted by the courageous Rufous that go from Mexico to southern Alaska! Those who choose to remain in the United States In coastal Texas, Louisiana, and the Florida panhandle, they’ll spend the winter. During the winter, a few of them can be seen hanging out in Florida and other southern states.
Rufous hummingbirds may leave the Rocky Mountains and head north along the California coast as early as January, instead of traveling east along the mountains like they did in the fall. February is a excellent month to view the Rufous in California because they will be on their summer grounds by mid-March. Rufous are well-equipped to deal with chilly weather, and during the night they may go into a sort of semi-hibernation called torpor.
3. ANNA’S HUMMINGBIRD
Resident & Short-distance migrant
The Anna’s hummers, on the other hand, migrate for a long distance. Western US hummingbirds Either they remain throughout the year or only travel short distances, primarily in search of additional food sources. They live in Washington, Oregon, California, and Arizona year-round. During the winter months, small populations of Anna’s may expand westward along Canada’s coast, into New Mexico, Baja California, and northeastern Mexico.
4. BLACK-CHINNED HUMMINGBIRD
Medium to Long-distance migrant
Fall Migration: September-October
Spring Migration: March-April
The black-chinned hummingbird may be found across the western United States. In Washington, Idaho, Oregon, California, Nevada, Utah, Arizona, New Mexico, and Montana, black-chinned birds have a common breeding or migratory range. They go south for the winter like many hummingbirds, in Mexico, of course.
In September, they’ll start to migrate from their northern ranges, and by October, they’ll be nearly gone from the north. They’ll leave their summer range in October, and by November, they’ll be on their wintering grounds.
Western Mexico, as well as regions on the western coast such as Puerto Vallarta, will see increased demand for this. During the winter, some move to the United States. Texas, Louisiana, and Florida are all bordered by the Gulf. They’ll be back in most states by April, ready to reclaim their summer range.
5. ALLEN’S HUMMINGBIRD
Resident to Medium-distance migrant
Fall Migration: July-September
Spring Migration: February-April
The Allen’s hummingbird is only found along the Pacific coast, despite the fact that some hummingbirds on this list spend their summer over a large area of the country. In California and southern Oregon, they’re quite tenacious on the ground bordering the water.
They travel south in the late summer, passing through Mexico City and spending the winter there. In July, some individuals in the range’s northern reaches may start leaving, while most others do so in August. The Allen’s hummingbird may be found year-round in a little pocket around Los Angeles and the Channel Islands. The Allen family returns to their grounds on the Pacific coast in February and March after spending the winter in Mexico.
6. BROAD-TAILED HUMMINGBIRD
Fall Migration: August-September
Spring Migration: April-May
Hummingbirds that have a broad tail prefer high elevations and breed up to 10,500 feet above sea level. Summers are spent in the west, where they live. Throughout the Rocky Mountains, as well as Arizona, Utah, and California. In late August and early September, broad-tailed hummers start heading south towards Mexico.
They spend the majority of the winter in central Mexico, though some migrate south into Guatemala. In the United States, a small group may stay. In the winter, they may be found in Arizona’s far southeastern corner or along Texas and Louisiana’s Gulf coast. In April and May, they’ll reappear at their summer base.
7. COSTA’S HUMMINGBIRD
Resident to Short-distance migrant
Costa’s are only seen in a small part of the United States, and their flaring purple throat feathers are memorable. Far southern California, the Baja Peninsula, southwestern Arizona, and northern Mexico are all home to these creatures year-round.
During the winter, some of the population will head south to Mexico’s western shore, while during the summer, others will branch out into Arizona and southern Nevada. In the Sonoran and Mojave deserts of southern United States, the Cornell Lab of Ornithology claims that the best time to see them is during spring. Between the months of February and May. You can, however, find them in Los Angeles and San Diego throughout the winter.
8. BROAD-BILLED HUMMINGBIRD
Resident, short-distance migrant when visiting the U.S.
In the United States, there are just two states. Arizona and New Mexico are two states where the broad-billed hummingbird may be seen on a regular basis. Year-round residents in western and central Mexico are the majority of this species’ population. They are known to migrate into the southwestern United States in small numbers.
Phoenix, Tucson, and the southern part of Arizona will see the most sightings. The migration season is not precisely defined. Arizona in the spring and summer is more likely to encounter them, although sightings are possible all year.
9. CALLIOPE HUMMINGBIRD
Fall Migration: August-September
Spring Migration: March-May
Calliope migrate north along the Pacific coast in the spring, then south along the Rocky Mountains in the fall, much as rufous hummingbirds do. They spend the summer in British Columbia, as well as parts of the United States. They’ll head south in late August and early September.
Those observing them migrating through in September should note that it is a fantastic time. The majority of them had crossed the border into Mexico by the end of October. They spend the winter in locations near Puerto Vallarta and Colima, mostly around Mexico City, but also near central Mexico.
During the winter, Calliope hummingbirds can be found in Texas and Louisiana, albeit in small numbers. They start to cross the border into the US. At the beginning of March, they were on their way north once again.
10. RIVOLI’S HUMMINGBIRD
While hummingbirds are not widespread in the United States, they may be found fairly regularly crossing the border from Mexico in a tiny region in the southwest. Rivoli’s year-round residence spans across Mexico and Central America, reaching as far south as Nicaragua. They might migrate up and down local heights in search of mountain/valley blossoming flowers, perhaps for a short distance.
The best time to see them in the United States is when they cross the border into southeastern Arizona at any time of year. April through September would be the ideal time. They may be found in the southeastern corner of New Mexico or the extreme western part of Texas around El Paso, if you drive outside of southwestern Arizona.
11. LUCIFER HUMMINGBIRD
Resident to Short-distance migrant
Fall Migration: September
Spring Migration: March-May
On Mexico’s central plateau, Lucifer Hummingbirds can be found year-round. They may be found in northern Mexico and the southern United States. The males will breed and return to south-central Mexico for the winter. From March through September, you may see them along the Mexican border in Arizona, New Mexico, or western Texas.
12. BUFF-BELLIED HUMMINGBIRD
Resident to short-distance migrant
Hummingbirds with buff-bellies are usually found year-round within their range. They can be found from Mexico’s east coast to northern Belize and Guatemala throughout the year. The year-round population of this species stretches from Mexico to the Texas coast near Corpus Christi. A small population of Buff-bellied hummingbirds migrates farther north along the Gulf coast, past Houston and into Louisiana, while others migrate south to winter in Mexico.