Hummingbird Migration Map for 2021 – listing of 2021 hummingbird sightings and migration patterns (Spring & Fall). View map & download species guide.
Like a lot of birds out there, hummingbirds migrate in the colder months to a warmer climate. In North America, hummingbirds tend to spend the winter months in central America or Mexico, and they will not start to migrate until around the month of February.
The migration pattern might differ from year to year, but the birds pick up on a number of things to really trigger their move back up north. Below is a detailed guide on what to expect out of hummingbirds, and when they might be in your particular area.
Hummingbird migration patterns
When the days become longer and the weather becomes a little bit better, hummingbirds make their way back up north through most of the United States. This migration process usually starts around the end of February, and by March people will start to notice hummingbirds in different areas.
The males will be the first to arrive, and as one might expect, they first can be spotted in southern states along the Gulf Coast. It is very dependent on the weather that year, but by the beginning of March people in Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and Florida should all be seeing hummingbirds. Since the ruby-throated is the most popular breed in that part of the United States, chances are that will be the hummingbird seen.
They can take hummingbirds a full month to get about halfway up the United States. Most people in the Midwest will not see their first hummingbird of the year until April. This is due to travel time and weather. They also go off of the abundance of flowers and insects in the area.
Those in the north, as well as Canada, probably will not see hummingbirds until the month of May. As things start to spread out a little, there are going to be fewer hummingbirds in the area in the first place. It might not seem like the best news for those who like to watch hummingbirds in the area, but it just puts more of a focus on having a good feeder set up. As the saying goes, if you build it, they will come.
During the summer months, hummingbirds will enjoy the weather in all different parts of the United States. Around the end of August and September, they start to move south, looking for slightly warmer temperatures as well as abundant food sources.
Since this can be some of the hottest weather of the year, hummingbirds usually eat in the early morning, and then travel during the day. By the late afternoon, they are once again eating, trying to maintain their body weight as much as possible. Keep food levels at a pretty high level in order to bring them in during their migration.
Those looking to catch their final glimpses of hummingbirds in the fall should check out the southern coast of the United States in the month of September. They are usually gathering to make one final flight south, either to somewhere over the Gulf of Mexico or in Mexico itself. There are some that will end up staying in the United States, but they are certainly not as prevalent.
Each year, people should pay attention to the overall weather patterns. It is becoming a little bit more common to see hummingbirds either wait out the migration, or stay in the United States altogether. This seems to be a little bit more common in the western part of the United States, especially with Anna’s hummingbirds.
When and where do hummingbirds migrate?
The most common dates to keep in mind are March 1 and September 1. In that window, people all around the United States have a good opportunity to see some hummingbird activity. It is worth having a feeder out, especially if the weather is doing well. Being one of the first to have food out for the hummingbirds can give a person and edge over other yards in the area.
Different species of hummingbirds are going to be in different parts of the United States. The most common hummingbird in the United States is the ruby-throated hummingbird, and they usually stick to the eastern half of the United States. Black-chinned and Anna’s hummingbirds are going to be found in the western part of United States, and Rufous hummingbirds stick to the Pacific Northwest.
The most common species of hummingbirds
To a lot of people, or hummingbirds look relatively the same. While some do you share a lot of similar characteristics, it is interesting to tell the differences as well. Here is a look at some of the most common species out there, as well as where to find them in the United States.
For most people, ruby-throated hummingbirds are going to be what many people considered to be just a generic hummingbird. They are the most common in the United States, especially in the eastern half.
These hummingbirds have a very strict routine, often returning to the same area each and every year. Their body allows them to realize when it is time to migrate north, and they will stay around depending on the weather.
On the west coast, this is one of the most common hummingbirds out there. They span the Pacific coast, and even go in towards Arizona and Texas. Due to the weather in the area, they tend to be permanent residence instead of migrating to other parts of the world.
They are able to handle colder temperatures by gaining weight during the day. They do that by converting sugar into fat. They also have some beautiful markings and colors on their head, making them easy to distinguish in the wild. They are the only hummingbird with red on the crown.
Found in the western United States more towards the Pacific Northwest (and Canada), the Rufous is orange/red in appearance. They are very aggressive, and people should be a little bit worried about that overall if they try to get too close. They tend to get aggressive with other hummingbirds for the most part, but they are feisty and territorial.
A bit on the small side, most of these hummingbirds are only going to be about 3 to 4 inches. Their Rufous back is one of a kind, and the reason it has the name. Since they like to hang out in colder temperatures during the summer months, they do tend to migrate a little bit early. Make sure to catch a glimpse of them before it is too late.
The black-chinned hummingbird stays in the mountains of the western United States, usually in lower elevations. In the winter, they can be found along the Gulf Coast as well as in Central America.
They usually can be spotted due to their black chin and a violet throat. They do look pretty similar to ruby throated hummingbirds, but one way to tell the difference is the shape of they are big. Black chair and hummingbirds are going to have much more curved beaks compared to the straight bill of a ruby-throated hummingbird.
These hummingbirds are great to spot, and they are a bit rare overall. If a person is to spot them, they usually can be found in California and west Texas. Other states they tend to be in include Arizona and New Mexico.
The name once again explains how to spot this hummingbird. The violet crown is a heavy contrast to the white throat and red/orange bill. It is one of the most striking hummingbirds out there, and most people consider it to be a huge find when they actually stop by.
Technically speaking, the white stripe behind the eye is not the hummingbird’s ear, but the name makes sense in a lot of ways. Not only are they easy to spot when a person sees that stripe, but their red/orange bill with a black tip is also very distinctive.
Unfortunately, these are becoming a lot more rare than in the past. Mostly spotted in the Southwestern part of the United States, the best way to look for white eared hummingbirds is to stop by in the summer months. Most of the documented spottings in the last few years have been in the state of Texas.
Anyone in the deserts of the southwest United States should be able to spot Costa’s hummingbirds during the summer months. These birds really do like their hot summer days, and the Sonoran and Mojave desert have a lot of these birds hanging around.
The males are going to have a deep violet head that is very distinctive. Females are going to be a little less vibrant, but they have a white throat with violet feathers.
These hummingbirds are a bit on the smaller side, and they like to hang out in woodland areas.
This is another hummingbird that seems to really like the state of California. They tend to hang out on the coast, coming up during the summer months and staying until the beginning of winter.
These hummingbirds are going to look very similar to the Rufous hummingbird, but they do not have as big of a range. The best way to tell between the two is to look at the throat area. Males are going to have an iridescent red throat, while females will have a dull white look in their throat area.
This is the smallest hummingbird found in North America. They like to hang out in the Northwest United States when they come, simply due to the high elevations in the mountains.
Their most distinctive feature is a streaked throat. They usually have some red in the throat area, and it really stands out in flight or standing around.