Ruby-Throated Hummingbird Spring Migration
The Ruby-Throated Hummingbird spends the winter in Central America or Mexico, and migrate
north to their breeding grounds in the southern U.S. and western states as early as February, and
to areas further north later in the spring. The first arrivals in spring are usually males.
Although there are differing views in the birding community as to what triggers the start of
migration, it is generally thought that hummingbirds sense changes in daylight duration, and
changes in the abundance of flowers, nectar and insects. Instinct also plays a role in making the
decision to migrate.
Dust off your hummingbird feeders and brew up some nectar as Ruby-Throated Hummingbirds
return to Wisconsin about the first week of May.
During migration, a hummingbird's heart beats up to 1,260 times a minute, and its wings flap 15 to 80 times a second. To support this high
energy level, a hummingbird will typically gain 25-40% of their body weight before they start migration in order to make the long trek over
land, and water. They fly alone, often on the same path they have flown earlier in their life, and fly low, just above tree tops or water. Young
hummingbirds must navigate without parental guidance.
Hummingbirds fly by day when nectar sources such as flowers are more abundant. Flying low allows the birds to see, and stop at, food
supplies along the way. They are also experts at using tail winds to help reach their destination faster and by consuming less energy and
body fat. Research indicates a hummingbird can travel as much as 23 miles in one day. However those that make the 500 mile flight from
Florida to the Yucatan do it in 18-22 hours non-stop, depending on wind conditions
Interactive Map of 2021 Monarch Migration. Zoom/pan map for more detail, and click on
icons for sighting info
The spring migration can be hard on the hummingbird population as they move north from their winter homes in southern Mexico and
Central America. Stops along the way may be for a few minutes, or a few days at more favorable locations with abundant food supplies.
Strong cold fronts moving south over the Gulf of Mexico make flying difficult as the birds deal with headwinds and heavy rain, over long
distances with no shelter. Food is non-existent over the open waters.
Hummingbirds may be some of the smallest birds in the world, but fluttering those tiny wings
can be quite a workout. Flapping away at up to 90 beats per second burns up calories fast. To
maintain their momentum, hummingbirds need to eat — a lot! To satisfy their speedy metabolisms,
these busy birds consume half their body weight in bugs and nectar, feeding every 10-15
minutes and visiting 1,000-2,000 flowers per day.
¼ cup refined white sugar
1 cup boiling wanter
Please do use refined white sugar! Honey can promote dangerous fungal growth, while
organic, natural, and raw sugars contain levels of iron that could be harmful. Plain white
table sugar is sucrose, which, when mixed with water, very closely mimics the chemical
composition of natural nectar.
Mix sugar and boiling water until sugar is dissolved. Cool and fill feeder. Hang up your
feeder outside and wait for the hummingbirds to come. There is NO need to use red
More than most birds, hummers need to bathe regularly, due to the sticky nature of nectar.
They prefer very shallow, moving water, or a spray mist.
Placing nesting material near a feeder may attract female hummingbirds to nest near you.
Hummer Helper®”is a practical nesting material and is available at bird stores/garden centers.
Hummer nests are often re-used, wholly or in part. Leave a nest in place
Bergamot, Monarda fisulosa, is a favorite of both Ruby-Throated
Lovely lavender flowers top aromatic foliage. Easy to grow in a perennial border, wildflower garden
or meadow. Wild bergamot is a great naturalizing wildflower and a magnet for butterflies and
hummingbirds. It is a familiar component of prairie and savanna communities on all but the wettest
of soils. Native to most of North America, it often is cited for its historical medicinal applications among indigenous people.
It’s nesting time! Birds are master builders, putting together intricately made weavings of twig
and leaf, stem and fluff, hair and moss
Take this quick quiz and see how much you know about hummingbirds. This quiz is intended for
fun, in a random-facts-can-be-cool kind of way.
This guide features regional native plants for the Great Lakes that are highly
attractive to bird pollinators.