Hummingbirds are migratory birds that spend the winter in a different location than where they breed. The most common hummingbird in eastern North America, the ruby-throated hummingbird, claims a breeding range from the Gulf Coast north well into Canada, and then fly to the region from southern Mexico through Panama for the winter.
They fly up to five hundred miles non-stop to cross the Gulf of Mexico, from the Yucatan Peninsula to the areas of the coast between southern Texas to central Florida. After a brief rest and recharge, they continue the migration northward at a rate of about 20 miles per day, finishing the trip to Canada by late May.
Although they are often seen in large numbers, particularly near feeders during the fall migration, hummingbirds are solitary birds that do not live or migrate in flocks. Individual hummingbirds may travel earlier or later to slightly different locations than most of the same species.
When Should Hummingbird Feeders Be Taken Down?
It’s not necessary to take down feeders for the winter. They begin feeding heavily and ultimately migrating based on day length, not the abundance of the food supply. Your well-tended feeder in cold temperatures may be a lifesaver for late-season yearlings and other hummingbirds that did not make the full journey. When their migration is over in your area, consider maintaining at least one feeder year-round.
Should You Leave Hummingbird Feeders Out in Winter?
Leave feeders out in the winter weather especially if you live west of the Rocky Mountains, along the U.S/Mexico border or in the Southeast.
Where Do Hummingbirds Nest in Winter?
Most hummingbirds migrate to southern Mexico and Central America to overwinter, but it is becoming increasingly common to witness overwintering individuals in the milder climates of the Southeast and West Coast of the U.S., and other areas along the normal migration routes. These birds have opted not to complete the journey.
How Can I Help My Hummingbirds in the Winter?
Continue to provide at least one well-maintained hummingbird feeder throughout the year. The supplemental energy they receive could be the difference between life and death in the event of a sudden or extended cold snap.