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Press Release - Fall Migration of Hummingbirds
Fall Migration of HummingbirdsCLARENCE, NY – August 10, 2011
In mid-August and September, hummingbirds start their migration back to warmer climates. They do not migrate in flocks nor fly very high—mainly so they can see food sources along the way.
Ruby Throated Hummingbirds fly to Florida, Louisiana or Texas by mid-September before flying across the Gulf to Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula and south. However, a significant population now winters along the Gulf Coast between Florida and Texas. Almost all hummingbirds migrate except some of the Anna’s and Allen’s hummingbird in Southern California and Anna’s can also spend the winter in Arizona. The Costa’s hummingbird breeds in the Colorado desert during winter.
In the weeks before hummingbirds migrate, they start to intensely feed –called hyperphagia, and try to gain weight and fat. A female might put on 25-40% more weight while a smaller male might double its weight. Hummingbirds consume 50% of their weight in sugar each day from flower nectar and feeders with insects providing the remainder.
Ornithologists have calculated that a hummingbird can fly 600 miles without having to re-fuel. The distance from Florida to the Yucatan is 525 miles. It is estimated that this may take them 22 hrs. With headwinds, the challenge becomes greater. With tailwinds, the trip can become easier. Also keep in mind that hummingbirds will be migrating south from Canada. A ruby-throated hummingbird travels an average of 23 miles per day. Early morning and evening feeding are important as they travel mid-day. Blooming jewelweed is an important food source.
Historical Dates of Hummingbird Departures
- Arizona (Broad Billed)
- Montana (Early Sept.)
- New Hampshire
- New Jersey
- New York (Late Sept.)
- Pennsylvania (Late Sept.)
- South Dakota
- Texas (West)
- New Mexico (Early Oct.)
- North Carolina
- Oklahoma (Early Oct.)
- South Carolina
- Texas (Ruby Throated)
- West Virginia
- Northern California (Allen Hummingbird)
- North Dakota
Late August Departure
10 Things You Can Do to Help Hummingbirds During Their Fall Migration
1. Put out Hummingbird Feeders, ideally more than one as they do not like to share and tend to be territorial (15 feet apart; ideally so they can’t see each other) USABirdSupply.com offers over 100 feeders.
2. If you have a Hummingbird Feeder, go from a 4 to 1 to a 3 to 1 ratio of sugar to water so they don’t waste energy. Boil the mixture, cool, put in the refrigerator and use as needed.
3. Plant Flowers that have high nectar content.
4. If you are in the Southern part of the US, add more feeders as you may be their last stop before a 525 mile journey—this could be until late October.
5. Cool weather and day length help dictate the migration—if it is warmer, they may leave later.
6. Keep your feeder out even after you don’t see any birds as there may be some stragglers.
7. If there is a killing frost, hurricane or other weather that affects flowers and their nectar, your feeders will become a lifeline.
8. Hummingbirds will migrate south so leaving your feeders full will not keep them from migrating.
9. Do not use soap to clean your hummingbird feeder. Use hot water/brushes.
10. Change the hummingbird nectar or sugar water every 3-5 days, every 2 in very hot weather.