Hummingbird Migration in Virginia | Hummingbird Bliss (2023)

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When Do Hummingbirds Arrive in Virginia?

Virginia’s migrating hummingbirds begin arriving April 1st and continue north to their preferred nesting area, somewhere near their own birth.
The last of Virginia’s spring migrating hummingbirds are gone by mid-June, however, many will stay for the rest of the summer.

Virginia does not have any hummingbirds that stay in Virginia year-round, however, hummingbirds have been documented in neighboring West Virginia as late as January.

The most common hummingbird seen in Virginia is the Ruby-throated hummingbird.

On average, out of 10,000 hummingbird sightings in Virginia, 9,883 will be Ruby-throated, 87 will be Rufous, and 12 will be Calliope sightings.

Beginning their northern journey from as far away as Panama, or as close as Mexico, migrating hummingbirds arrive in Virginia in the first week of April, some late migrators may arrive as late as early June, but by the end of June, all hummingbirds that are migrating further than Virginia are gone from Virginia.

The first migrating hummingbirds will be males followed by the females about a week later. The males arrive first to stake out the territory that they will defend as they try to attract a female.

Keep your eye out for the brightly colored gorget of the male, the females will start showing up at your feeders about a week later.
See my article: How to Identify a Hummingbird’s Gender in 4 Easy Steps

Hummingbirds starting their spring migration from Panama need to fly about 3,200 miles over landmass to reach Virginia.
If they decide to fly over the Gulf of Mexico they will need to fly only 2,000 miles to reach Virginia.

(Video) How to Attract Hummingbirds Fast! The Spring Garden Strategy

Hummingbirds starting their journey from Mexico need to fly about 1,600 miles to reach Virginia.

What Hummingbirds Breed and Nest in Virginia?

There is only one hummingbird that breeds and nests in Virginia, the Ruby-throated hummingbird.

See Ruby-throated breeding map.

The entire reason for northern migration, much like salmon swimming upstream to their place of birth to lay eggs, is to return to the area where they were born. There the female builds a nest, mates, and raises a family.

Once the female hummingbird reaches the breeding grounds the focus turns to building a nest and then finding a partner with which to mate.

Female hummingbirds prefer building nests 10 to 20 feet off the ground in deciduous trees.

It will take her between 5 and 7 days to construct the nest of materials such as plant down, moss, and fine plant fibers, decorated with lichens and held together by spider webs.
See my article: Hummingbird Parents: (Mating to Nesting)
See my article: Baby Hummingbirds: (Egg to Fledgling)

Each species of male hummingbirds has its own unique mating dance ritual of courtship to attract a female. They do perfectly choreographed dives and dance maneuvers to attract a flirty female.
See my article: Hummingbird Dance: 5 Interpretive Explanations

There is no penetration during the mating ritual as male hummingbirds do not have any external sexual organs.

The hummingbird mating process only lasts for approximately 3-5 seconds while the cloacae (kloh-ay-see) of both hummingbirds are pressed together in what is called the “Cloacal Kiss” (kloh-a-coal kiss).

After the Cloacal kiss, the female must begin building the nest immediately.

Female hummingbirds prefer building nests 10 to 20 feet off the ground in deciduous trees.

It will take her between 5 and 7 days to construct the nest of materials such as plant down, moss, and fine plant fibers, decorated with lichens and held together by spider webs.
See my article: Hummingbird Parents: (Mating to Nesting)
See my article: Baby Hummingbirds: (Egg to Fledgling)

Hummingbirds usually lay 2 eggs per brood, one each on consecutive days.

(Video) 10 Mins of Hummingbirds #BlissRanch

Most hummingbirds have 2 broods per year, but depending on migration timing and day-length time in their nesting destinations, some hummingbirds can have more than 2 broods per year.

In Virginia, nesting hummingbirds usually have 2 broods per year but some may have time to work in a third brood.

When Should I Put Out Hummingbird Feeders in Virginia?

Virginia hummingbird enthusiasts should put out hummingbird feeders in the middle of March to attract the earliest arriving migrating hummingbirds.
Many Virginia hummingbird enthusiasts leave their hummingbird feeders up all year for the old, injured, or cold-tolerant hummingbirds.

There are no hummingbirds classified as year-round in Virginia, however, hummingbirds are documented as being seen in neighboring West Virginia as late as the month of January.
See my article: 8 Hummingbirds Found in Virginia: (Pictures and Sounds)

Male hummingbirds will be the first to arrive followed by female hummingbirds about a week later.

Migrating hummingbirds will continue to arrive in Virginia until about mid-June.
Hummingbirds seen in Virginia after mid-June will be hummingbirds that will spend their entire summer in Virginia.

Be sure to fill your hummingbird feeders with good quality nectar solutions, making your own feeder nectar is best.
See my article: Forget Commercial Hummingbird Food, Try Making Homemade Nectar
See my article: The One Thing You Need to Eliminate From a Hummingbird’s Diet

How Long Do Hummingbirds Stay in Virginia?

There are no hummingbirds that live in Virginia year-round.
Virginia’s earliest migrating hummingbirds will start arriving in mid-March and most will be gone by October although some may be seen as late as January.

Hummingbirds are much more tolerant than most people believe.
According to eBird.org, some banded hummingbirds have been documented in temperatures of -9 degrees Fahrenheit with a wind chill of -36 degrees Fahrenheit.

Some normally migrating seasonal hummingbirds choosing to over-winter in Virginia, or too old or injured to migrate, will be the only likely hummingbirds Virginian hummingbird enthusiasts will see during the winter.

The most likely migrating hummingbird that might choose to spend the winter in Virginia would be a Ruby-throated or Rufous hummingbird.

Hummingbirds have exceptional memories and will remember every flower or feeder they visited on the spring migration and will return to those nectar sources on their return to southern migration in the fall.
See my article: Hummingbird Adaptation and Remarkable Ability to Locate Food

The most common hummingbirds Virginians will see during the hot summer months will be the Ruby-throated hummingbird with the Rufous hummingbird being a distant second.

When the obstacles of the summer heat are difficult to manage and unbearable, finding ways to keep your hummingbirds happy and hydrated with cool nectar can be critical.
See my article: How to Help Hummingbirds in Hot Weather

(Video) Identification of Hummingbirds of West Texas - Donna L. Dittmann & Steven W. Cardiff

When Do Hummingbirds Leave Virginia?

Virginia’s migrating hummingbirds begin leaving the state in late August, migrating south to their over-wintering areas in Mexico and Central America.
Virginia’s migrating hummingbirds will all be gone by mid-November.
No hummingbirds live in Virginia year-round.

The older hummingbirds will be the first to start the fall migration in late August with the youngest hummingbirds finishing the fall migration by mid-November, according to an article from the University of Southern Mississippi.

This elongated migration time frame ensures late straggling migrants have enough food available to fuel their bodies before making the long taxing migration south for the winter.

Some migrating hummingbirds Virginians will possibly see during the winter are migrating hummingbirds that are too old or injured to migrate.

Hummingbird migration is triggered by the circadian (internal daily clock) and the circannual (internal yearly clock) rhythm.

Changes in the weather, temperature, time of the season, the decline in the food supply, and decreased amount of sunlight because of shortening days are all factors that trigger an individual hummingbird’s instinct to migrate.

As with spring migration, male hummingbirds are the first to begin the southern migration in the fall. The female migrating hummingbirds will begin their southern fall migration as soon as they have completed raising their offspring to the ability to migrate themselves.

How Long Does It Take a Virginia Hummingbird to Migrate?

It takes a Virginia hummingbird 53 hours of flying at its average migrating flight speed of 30mph to fly to the most distant Mexican border 1,600 miles away.
Hummingbirds migrating to Panama will need 107 hours to fly over 3,200 miles of landmass or 67 hours if they fly 2,000 miles across the Gulf of Mexico.

Some fly at the relaxed distance as slow as 1 hour per day, others fly up to 500 miles non-stop in about 20 hours as some do while migrating across the Gulf of Mexico.

Hummingbirds do not migrate in flocks as do other migrating birds.
Hummingbirds migrate individually on their own personal time clock.

This staggered migration pattern ensures resources are not consumed and depleted all at one time.

As migration approaches, hummingbirds routinely gain 25% to 50% of their body weight by consuming increased quantities of nectar from feeders and flowering plants as well as catching an increased quantity of bugs mid-air for protein.

This increase in body fat helps fuel the hummingbird on its long migration journey.

Expect to see an increased volume of southern migrating hummingbird visitors to your feeders in Virginia during this fall migration from September through October.

(Video) HUMMINGBIRD TIME IN BELLINGHAM WASHINGTON

The hummingbirds that visited your feeders during the spring migration will remember exactly where your feeder is located and will most likely revisit that same feeder on their way to their over-wintering area in Mexico and Central America.
See my article: Hummingbird Adaptation and Remarkable Ability to Locate Food

When To Take Down Hummingbird Feeders in Virginia?

The best time to take down hummingbird feeders for the winter in Virginia is mid-November or when no hummingbirds have been seen at the feeders for a couple of weeks.
Many Virginians leave feeders up all winter to feed over-wintering hummingbirds and those too old or injured to migrate.

The dilemma hummingbird enthusiasts struggle with every year is whether to leave the hummingbird feeders up all year or take them down during the winter.

Some Virginia hummingbird admirers leave hummingbird feeders up all winter long to provide life-nourishing nectar to Virginians only likely winter residents, Ruby-throated hummingbirds, as well as some seasonal hummingbirds that choose to stay in Virginia for the winter, namely the Rufous hummingbirds.

Most Ruby-throated and Rufous hummingbirds will not spend the winter in Virginia and will decide to migrate south to Mexico or Central America for the winter.

The selfless act of keeping hummingbird feeders up all winter also provides nectar to other migrating species unable to migrate because of injury or old age.
See my article: 11 DIY Ways to Keep Hummingbird Nectar From Freezing
See my article: Should I Keep My Hummingbird Feeder Out During the Winter?

Hummingbird enthusiasts that leave hummingbird feeders up all winter provide much-welcomed nutrition for year-round, migrating, and hummingbirds too old or injured to migrate.

Hummingbirds are much more tolerant of cold temperatures than most people realize.
According to eBird.org, some banded hummingbirds have been documented in temperatures of -9 degrees Fahrenheit with a wind chill of -36 degrees Fahrenheit.
See my article: 3 Reasons Why Hummingbirds Are Banded

Taking hummingbird feeders down mid-winter during episodes of below-freezing temperatures could be fatal to hummingbirds depending on these winter-time feeders.
See my article: 11 DIY Ways to Keep Hummingbird Nectar From Freezing

Where Do Virginia Hummingbirds Go in The Winter?

Virginia migrating hummingbirds travel south to over-winter in Mexico, Guatemala, Belize, Honduras, El Salvador, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, and Panama.

All hummingbirds have excellent memories and can remember every flower or feeder they visited during spring migration and will return to those locations along their migration pathway year after year.

Some hummingbirds have been documented returning to a feeder for a couple of years after it was removed.
See my article: Hummingbird Adaptation and Remarkable Ability to Locate Food

See my article: Hummingbirds Found in Virginia: (Pictures and Sounds)

Happy Hummingbird Watching!

(Video) Hummer Mania Colibri / Ruby Throated Hummingbird (Chupaflor Chuparosa) Migration Sept 7 2012

Hummingbird Migration in Virginia | Hummingbird Bliss (1)

FAQs

When should you take your hummingbird feeders down in Virginia? ›

In Virginia, this typically means placing them out from the beginning to the middle of April. However, to cater to those left behind after fall migration and for occasional winter visitors, you might consider leaving your feeders up year-round. Just remember that placing feeders is just one step to take.

What is the season for hummingbirds in Virginia? ›

So, when can you expect the arrival of hummingbirds in Virginia? Usually, they show up in the first two weeks of April. According to Hummingbird Central, the highest volume of hummingbirds make their way to Virginia between April 1-15.

Where is the hummingbird migration now? ›

Many hummingbirds spend 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.

What month do you put the hummingbird feeders out? ›

April and May (Northern U.S.) Hummingbirds begin to reach their northern ranges in late April or early May. It is best if all birders have their hummingbird feeders cleaned, refilled, and ready for thirsty guests no later than the first week of May.

Are hummingbirds in Virginia Yet 2022? ›

Mature male hummingbirds are usually the first to return to Virginia with the arrival of warm weather around mid-April. Females and younger birds arrive a few weeks later, in the first week of May. Ruby-throated hummingbirds are the only species that breed in Virginia.

Do hummingbirds sleep in the same place every night? ›

Do hummingbirds sleep in the same place each night? Yes. Hummingbirds tend to find a safe space they like to sleep in and return there each night until they migrate.

How late do hummingbirds stay in Virginia? ›

The most commonly seen hummingbird in Virginia. Males usually arrive in mid-April, and the females usually follow in May. They usually leave the state in September to return to their wintering ranges. Most (if not all) hummers are gone by October.

Where do hummingbirds in Virginia migrate to? ›

They start migration relatively early in February to arrive from Mid-April to early May as far north as Canada. Fall migration is by the Rocky Mountains to wintering grounds in southwestern Mexico, but also more recently to the Gulf Coast in late August and September.

What time of day are hummingbirds most active? ›

A hummingbird's favorite time of day to visit a feeder and feed on your nectar is usually dawn and dusk, or early in the morning and late in the afternoon before sunset. But even though those two times seem to be their favorite to eat, hummingbirds will be seen feeding at various times throughout the day.

Where are the hummingbirds this year 2022? ›

The Fall migration is a journey south back to Mexico and Central America and starts when the abundance of insects (their main food source) starts to dwindle with cold temps.

Why are there less hummingbirds this year 2022? ›

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.

Do hummingbirds come back to the same place every year? ›

Most of these birds DO return to the same feeders or gardens to breed year after year. What's more, they often stop at the same spots along the way and arrive on the same date!

What keeps emptying my hummingbird feeder at night? ›

Bats, squirrels, raccoons and bears are usually the culprits that drink hummingbird nectar, although usually bears will be more conspicuous, as they are noisy and will typically destroy the feeder. Raccoons will also cause damage to the feeders.

Do hummingbirds eat from feeders at night? ›

Typically, hummingbirds feed heavily in morning and evening hours and settle in about a half hour or so before dark. In some locations--especially if there is artifical lighting such as security or porch light--hummingbirds may feed well into the night, usually during warmer weather.

Is it safe to feed hummingbirds right now? ›

Is it Safe to Feed Wild Birds Right Now? There is no official recommendation to take down feeders unless you also keep domestic poultry, according to the National Wildlife Disease Program. Ken says, “The Cornell Lab of Ornithology and United States Department of Agriculture have both stated that bird feeding is safe.

Where do hummingbirds go at night? ›

Hummingbirds often find a twig that's sheltered from the wind to rest on for the night. Also, in winter, they can enter a deep sleep-like state known as torpor. This odd behavior usually happens on cold nights, but sometimes they go into a torpid state during the day.

What flower attracts hummingbirds? ›

Brightly-colored flowers that are tubular tend to produce the most nectar, and are particularly attractive to hummingbirds. These include perennials such as bee balms, columbines, daylilies, and lupines; biennials such as foxgloves and hollyhocks; and many annuals, including cleomes, impatiens, and petunias.

What plants do hummingbirds like in Virginia? ›

Native azaleas, like pinxter flower (Rhododendron periclymenoides), feed the earliest hummingbird migrants on their way back from their wintering grounds. Fire pinks (Silene virginica) are another early-blooming energy source for hummers.

How late do hummingbirds stay in Virginia? ›

The most commonly seen hummingbird in Virginia. Males usually arrive in mid-April, and the females usually follow in May. They usually leave the state in September to return to their wintering ranges. Most (if not all) hummers are gone by October.

How long should you keep your hummingbird feeders up? ›

1. Leave your feeders up until 2 – 3 weeks have passed without seeing any birds feeding from them or until freezing weather sets in. 2. Keep your feeders full and clean.

How long should you leave hummingbird feeders up in the fall? ›

Hummingbirds are no different from others and will migrate regardless of whether feeders are kept up. However, we encourage people to keep feeders up for several weeks after the last hummingbird leaves the area, just in case a straggler shows up in need of additional energy before completing the long journey south.

How long should you leave hummingbird feeders out in the fall? ›

In the Autumn we recommend leaving your feeders up for approximately two (2) weeks after you have seen the last hummingbird. There might be one or a few travelers migrating in need of a stop-over meal. They might stay for one day or several.

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