When do hummingbirds migrate south?

hummingbird going for flower nectar

Hummingbirds are extremely unique birds loved for their beautiful iridescent colors, small sizes, and fast-flying movements. While seeing and interacting with these whimsical creatures provide moments cherished by many, these experiences do not occur year-round.

So, when do hummingbirds migrate south? Like most other birds, when the temperatures begin to drop hummingbirds migrate back south to warmer locations. Ruby Throated hummingbirds migrate northward in US and Southern Canada during summer where they breed and return back in August or early September.

Hummingbirds Migrating Season

The typical beginning of the southern migration season for a hummingbird is around August – September, however, this varies depending on the species of hummingbird.

Some adult hummingbirds will begin their southern migration as early as July, although this is not as common.

The hummingbird’s migrating season occurs in two stages: migrating north for the spring/summer and migrating south for fall/winter.

As soon as the colder seasons begin in the north, hummingbirds will begin their journey back to their southern territories.

The cold temperatures in the north vary depending on the location. Some northern territories may still be warm when fall begins and this will result in the hummingbirds delaying their southern migration.

Other hummingbirds may not even wait for the temperatures to drop and will simply begin traveling back south as soon as they are done producing and raising their offspring. This is when you might see them migrating early in the month of July.

Reason For Hummingbirds Migration

When hummingbirds migrate north for the spring and summer seasons, it is mainly because they need to breed and produce their offspring in a safe environment away from the competition of other animals.

Competing for food, water, and shelter in their southern locations becomes too difficult during this time.

Once the hummingbirds raise their young and the seasons begin to change, then they are ready to travel back south to their original locations. 

When the abundance of resources that they travel north for begin to disappear in the fall and winter, hummingbirds will then make the journey back to the warmth and resources of the south.

Distance Hummingbirds Travel During Migration

Despite their small sizes, hummingbirds can make up to a 4000-mile journey every migration season.

While most hummingbirds travel an average of 20 miles per day, some species can travel up to 500 miles in just a single day.

The total distance a hummingbird will travel during their southern migration depends on the location that they begin and end at.

On average, hummingbirds are expected to travel a few thousand miles on their journey back south.

Migration Destination

The destination for the southern migration of hummingbirds is mainly around the areas of Mexico and Central America.

These locations are closer to the equator where temperatures stay warm in what would normally be fall and winter in the north.

Most hummingbirds cannot survive freezing temperatures and snow, which is why they go south where these weather habits will never occur.

Once they are settled back in the south, they will stay in the area until the northern temperatures warm back up in the spring where they will once again make their journey back north.

Frequently Asked Questions

What time of should you take down hummingbird feeders? You should always keep your feeder stocked to provide food to migrating hummingbirds but the time you see your feeder freezing, take down your feeder ASAP.

Do hummingbirds come back to the same place every year? I have personally seen hummingbirds returning back to the same feeder every year but if they don’t find the feeder they can look somewhere else and would never return back. So, always keep your hummingbird feeder out 15 days before they come every year.

What month do hummingbirds fly south? In winter, hummingbirds migrate to Central America or Mexico. They further move to northern US and mostly breed there.

How long does it take a hummingbird to fly south? Generally, hummingbirds take about 12-14 days to reach their wintering ground. During this time, they do stop at various places to rest and feed.

Why did my hummingbirds disappear? If you see hummingbirds suddenly disappearing from your backyards or garden and never coming back to your hummingbird feeder, they might be female hummingbirds fulfilling their maternal duties.

Donald Bergeson

I have always been fascinated by the skill, strength, and beauty of birds.They help in maintaining a balance of ecological environment. At Best Bird Guide, I share all of my experiences and discoveries that I have got so far and inspire more devoted fans.

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