hummingbird migration

Impressive Journey of Hummingbirds: Fascinating Insights into When and How They Migrate

In nature, hummingbirds travel from place to place. Many hummingbirds spend the colder months of the year in Central America or Mexico but begin making the long journey north to their breeding habitats in the southern and western states as early as February. Men tend to be the first to return to their homes in the spring.

Impressive Journey of Hummingbirds Fascinating Insights into When and How They Migrate

Yet, in places like California and the northern Pacific coast, some choose not to migrate.

Late summer and early fall are spent breeding, and then the birds begin their return journey to Mexico and Central America.

Hummingbirds can reach heart rates of 1,260 beats per minute during migration, and their wings can beat anywhere from 15 to 80 times per second. Hummingbirds have a lot of energy. Thus they have to increase 25-40% of their body weight before they migrate so they can fly and swim vast distances.

They travel low to the ground, frequently just above the treetops or the surface of the water, and they usually fly alone, following the same route they took when they were younger. Young hummingbirds have to find their way around without the help of their parents or any prior flying expertise.

When nectar sources, such as flowers, are plentiful during the day, hummingbirds take to the air. The birds can spot potential food sources along their route and make pit stops by keeping their altitude relatively low. In addition to being proficient at conserving energy and slimming down by taking advantage of tailwinds, they are also speedy and efficient at getting where they're going.

Impressive Journey of Hummingbirds Fascinating Insights into When and How They Migrate

According to studies, a hummer can fly up to 23 miles in a single day. From their summer breeding sites in the northern United States or southern Canada, it can take many weeks to reach their wintering grounds. However, in special cases, such as the trip over the Gulf of Mexico, they can fly for even more extended periods, up to 22 hours nonstop!

A few hummingbirds start their annual fall migration as early as late July, but most don't leave their northern climes until August or September.

Natural Food Sources

To follow the ebb and flow of food availability, hummingbirds will move along their migration paths. Hummingbirds rely primarily on nectar from flowers, but other food sources, such as insects, can affect when and how quickly they move. This is especially true in the spring when an abundance of insects provides a vital source of protein for developing hummingbird chicks.

Weather Patterns

Hummingbird migration can be slightly impacted by local storms and strong winds, postponing the birds' trips by a day or two. Sometimes hummingbirds get caught in bird fallouts when migrating in the spring. During the fall, migratory hummingbirds may remain in secure sites for up to two weeks for better weather before continuing their journey.

Helping Migrating Hummingbirds

Impressive Journey of Hummingbirds Fascinating Insights into When and How They Migrate

The migratory success of hummingbirds can be improved by taking a few simple measures in the comfort of one's backyard. It's a popular misconception that providing hummingbirds with food will make them stay there in one place all year round. There is no truth to this at all. To ensure that hummingbirds always have a reliable food source regardless of the state of the local flower supply, clever birders hang their feeders as soon as spring arrives and leave them up until late autumn. As an additional aid to migratory hummingbirds, you can:

  • To ensure that migratory hummingbirds have certain territories at the beginning and end of their journey, it is essential to support conservation efforts and habitat preservation in their wintering grounds.
  • Taking precautions to prevent the freezing of hummingbird nectar in the late fall ensures that it will be accessible to hummingbirds that arrive late to their migration.
  • Maintaining hummingbird feeders by removing moldy nectar and replacing it with fresh sugar water regularly ensures that the birds' food is fresh and sanitary.
  • Providing hummingbirds with a natural food source can be as simple as planting various flowers that bloom at different times of the year.
  • To aid breeding hummingbirds in their spring migration by providing nesting materials they can use to construct nests and raise their young with minimal effort and time spent.

Total Migration Distance

A hummingbird will leave earlier in the spring if it has a long way to go. The rufous hummingbird, which migrates from Mexico to Alaska, is the earliest migrant of any hummingbird species.

Hummingbirds have been observed making their annual migration north as early as January, with some species reaching their northernmost nesting areas by mid-May. Although some migratory birds start their journey south as early as July, most hummingbirds don't get going until late August or mid-September.

Why Do Hummingbirds Migrate?

Impressive Journey of Hummingbirds Fascinating Insights into When and How They Migrate

Hummingbirds travel great distances in search of suitable breeding grounds, food, and milder weather.

Insect populations drop dramatically throughout the winter, and many valuable blooms become dormant until the following spring. Therefore, hummingbirds must constantly probe for novel food options.

Hummingbirds travel as far south as Central and South America in search of fresh floral habitats and insect prey. It is still being determined why hummingbirds fly such long distances when a shorter flight might do just as well.

How Long Does It Take for a Hummingbird to Migrate?

Although hummingbird migrations take a long time, these hardy birds are determined and can cover great distances in a single day.

Even though many hummingbirds can have speeds of over 25 miles per hour, their migration can take up to fifty days! This takes into account the need to refuel once a week.

It takes about 22 hours for some Ruby-throated hummingbirds to make the entire 500-mile migration.

How Do Hummingbirds Navigate?

Impressive Journey of Hummingbirds Fascinating Insights into When and How They Migrate

Science still needs to understand how hummingbirds make it through their dangerous flights.

For orientation, hummingbirds may use their acute sensitivity to light, including UV light, and their ability to detect the earth's magnetic field. Some birds have even been seen following others, albeit this behavior is implausible to have any strategic purpose.

How Quackups could help you? 

At QuackUps, we are committed to helping save the mystical, magical, tiny but mighty Hummingbirds! We specialize in providing essential hummingbird products so that these birds nest, play, survive, and feed their young in your yard.

Our featured products are hummingbird home, hummingbird fountain (solar-powered), and hummingbird nesting pods. We consider these products to be essential and must-have hummingbird accessories!

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