Hummingbird Migration Map 2020 – a look at where hummingbirds migrate to by species. Migratory information, sightings & migration map are included in this article
Birds, like every other living being on the planet, migrate for survival and food. Hummingbirds are quite synonymous with migration since pretty much all species of hummingbirds in North America migrate to some region or the other every year. The period of migration varies with species and their places of origin. For instance, the species in the northern regions migrate during spring, while the hummingbirds native to the south migrate in the fall. Besides the migration period, there are several other aspects to hummingbird migration that you should know, particularly if you’re a hummingbird feeder or are keen to become an ornithologist.
What Prompts Hummingbirds to Migrate?
Hummingbirds usually migrate when they find an urge within themselves to do so. This internal urge is believed to be driven by the alterations in daylight intensity. As summer starts to wane, minor changes in daylight intensity take place, and these are instinctively perceived by hummingbirds and several other migrant birds. This, as a result, triggers a spike in the appetite of the bird, which assists them with accumulating fat stores for the grueling migration journey ahead.
Contrary to general perception, it isn’t the environment becoming colder, the leaves drying out and turning brown, or the perennial search for flowers and insects that prompt hummingbirds to migrate. The migration basically stems from an instinct that could be traced back to several million years of evolution. Therefore, when it’s time to migrate, a hummingbird will migrate. No amount of fresh, sweet nectar or beautiful blooming flowers would mitigate or postpone the move.
Where Do Hummingbirds Migrate?
As mentioned earlier, hummingbird migration varies with the actual species and where they originate from.
• Anna’s Hummingbird
Anna’s hummingbird stays pretty much throughout the year in the Pacific Coast range. However, post-breeding, it moves higher up the mountains to feed bountifully on blooming flowers. During fall, when there is a slowdown in the mountain flower blooming, it returns to the coast.
• Costa’s Hummingbird
Costa’s hummingbird primarily breeds in Arizona’s desert washes for the first half of the year (January to May). It then goes west to Mexico’s Baja peninsula and the California coast. The buff-bellied hummingbird species is based in south Texas. While the majority of these birds head south to Mexico during winter, quite a few go up along the coast of Texas and close to the gulf to spend winter in Florida.
• Ruby-Throated Hummingbird
Ruby-throated hummingbirds, during spring, move northward, to the north of the United States and southern Canada, where breeding takes place during summer. The journey back home for some adult ruby-throats could start mid-July. However, the majority wait until August or September for setting off. Most are destined to Central America and southern Mexico, although some would stay in southern U.S. along the Gulf and Atlantic coasts. Those staying in America are usually Canadian migrants who have already covered several thousand miles.
• Rufous Hummingbird
Measuring only three inches in length, the rufous hummingbird travels the longest for migration of pretty much all hummingbird species. The bird’s 3,900-mile migration path shapes a clockwise loop. It leaves their wintering grounds in Mexico during early spring, landing in Canada and Washington State by May, courtesy a long journey up and around the Pacific coast. Post a brief stopover in the North, some of the birds return to their bases in July, traveling south via the Rocky Mountains.
• Black-Chinned Hummingbird
During summer, the black-chinned hummingbird occupies a big portion of western U.S. Among the several hummingbirds found in the States, the black-chinned is the most adaptable. It inhabits a wide selection of locales, which includes urban regions. Post-breeding, several adult black-chinned hummingbirds head toward higher altitudes to gorge on mountain flowers, prior to moving south during the fall season. Most head to western Mexico, although some extend their stay in the Gulf Coast during winter.
• Allen’s Hummingbird
Compared to several other hummingbirds migrating to North America during spring, Allen’s hummingbird takes a slightly different approach. Those who migrate move away from the wintering grounds during December, so that they could arrive along the Oregon and California coasts in January and enjoy the winter windflowers of the region. During the breeding period, male and female Allen’s hummingbirds reside in different habitats. The male bird usually establishes its territory in a coastal shrub area. The female variant, on the other hand, builds its nests in the forest. There are basically two Allen’s hummingbird subspecies, each with their unique wintering destination. Selasphorus sasin moves to central Mexico. The other subgroup remains in southern California.
Other common hummingbird species start from their breeding spots during summer (mid-to-late) and move to greener meadows to survive winter. For the majority of these birds, this migration entails heading to the Central American and Mexican tropics. The migration route is usually oval or circular. Among the hummingbird species from the west, the rufous, broad-tailed, Calliope, and Allen’s head north along the lowlands of the Pacific coast. They travel south via the Rocky Mountains.
During early spring and late winter, the migrated birds return to their breeding grounds or bases in the U.S. and Canada. Migration to the north lets them evade the tropics where the battle for food could be extreme. In the North, on the other hand, food supplies during summer are abundant. This map (https://www.google.com/maps/d/viewer?mid=1bPiaI0_x73_Ax3y5T6HrEXZdNI4&msa=0) offers a clear visual representation of hummingbird migration.
Interesting Facts About Hummingbird Migration
Hummingbird isn’t the only bird that migrates. But hummingbirds are fairly diminutive in size and imagining them traveling several hundred miles at a stretch is quite fascinating.
• Mature ruby-throated hummingbirds, for instance, weigh just 3.1g but they still manage to complete a 500-mile journey in less than 24 hours. These birds can, in fact, travel 500 miles and a lot more than that without taking breaks in between.
• A hummingbird’s flight range, on an average, is approximately 1,400 miles.
• During migration, hummingbirds double their total body mass effectively through food reserves and still manage to carry out migratory flights successfully.
• Unlike what the myths suggest, hummingbirds do not hop on to the rears of other birds such as geese to migrate.
• Male and older hummingbirds are capable of traveling farther and quicker compared to female and younger hummingbirds.
• Migrating male hummingbirds usually arrive at a given location a week or two earlier than females.
Climate Change’s Impact on Hummingbird Migration
Some expert opinions/studies signal that hummingbirds arriving in a specific area expecting nectar only to find the plants already done with their flowering can turn into a major problem in the coming years. If temperatures generally get warmer, flowers would bloom earlier. This means flowers would be past their bloom when the birds arrive in the region.
Hummingbirds require nectar from flowers to power their prolonged journeys. They, in fact, change their migration paths based on the blooming flowers. Weather conditions change every year which impact the time when flowers would bloom in a specific region. During some years, flowers would be in their bloom phase when hummingbirds pass through. The next year they may not be blooming.
With the world getting warmer due to the increasing amounts of greenhouse gases released into the atmosphere, the rising temperatures make it more difficult for hummingbirds to eat, reproduce, and rest. Instead of searching for food during the increasingly warmer summers, some birds simply look for shade to stay cool. During such weather conditions, they are less social too, which also indicates they aren’t too keen on mating.
The warmer days aren’t the only issue for hummingbirds – warm nights could be problematic as well. Hummingbirds enter a slower state during night, called torpor. In this state, their body temperatures go down by more than 50 percent so that they could save energy for the day. Warming nights would restrict the amount of energy they could save.
With the climate changing, suitable hummingbird habitats are also beginning to shrink. Spring blooms are happening earlier during the year, impacting the timing between the return of hummingbirds from their winter retreat to blooming plants. This could leave the blooming flowers without their pollinators. Simultaneously, the birds would have less food, putting both animals and plants at risk.
Male hummingbirds usually seek seasonal locations for settling prior to the blooming of these flowers. However, the time-gap between the first flowering and the bird’s first arrival has shrunk by almost two weeks over the last four decades. If things continue to deteriorate at this pace, hummingbirds would inevitably miss the initial flowers when they return during spring.
Pollinators are important for both flowers and agriculture. Large-scale farming activities impact the climate too. The activity could cause the masking of the warming summer trend in certain parts of America. Leaves in corn fields release water in significant amounts, and the drying up of that water cools the atmosphere. The only region where such cooling trends have been observed during high-temp summers is the Midwest, where the majority of U.S. corns are grown. But even in the Midwest, nights are becoming warmer.
The extent to which hummingbirds can adapt to make up for these climate changes is not very clear yet, and a thorough feeding pattern study of different hummingbird species across America is yet to be carried out. Regardless, it can be concluded without doubt that climate change can potentially impact the already formed synchronous relationship between blooming times of flowers or food sources of hummingbirds and the arrival of these birds in their breeding regions.
Helping and Protecting Hummingbirds
Growing native plants indigenous to your region is a solid way to attract hummingbirds and provide them with the food they would love. Native plants offer food and shelter, which includes a healthy insects environment, a portion of the bird’s diet that’s crucial during the breeding season. You may even safeguard hummingbirds by helping pool in invaluable information from the Internet and other sources.