Delaware may be the second-smallest state, but it still offers some prime birdwatching opportunities. Across the Delmarva Peninsula and on the Delaware River, you may see many birds, hummingbirds included. The arrival of hummingbirds in spring is something to look forward to if you live in the state.
The transitional climate here supports many different types of vegetation, which is beneficial for seasonal visitors such as the Ruby-throated hummingbird and other hummingbirds that sometimes pass through.
Ruby-throated hummingbirds typically arrive in Delaware around mid-April and leave with the southward hummingbird migration in the fall. Migrating species can also be glimpsed in the state during the spring hummingbird migration and in September and October.
By knowing when hummingbirds arrive in and leave Delaware and understanding when to expect them, you can prepare for them on your property. You can keep them happy while they are in the state.
What Hummingbirds are Seen in Delaware?
The Ruby-throated hummingbird is the only bird that breeds and nests in Delaware and is the most common species to see in the state. They can sometimes be seen throughout the year, but the best times to see them are in spring, during the spring migration and before the nesting period, and in fall, when there will be young around, and as the birds prepare to head back south to Mexico or Central America.
Rufous hummingbirds are also frequently seen, and other rare visitors have included Allen’s hummingbird and the Broad-tailed hummingbird. But other hummingbirds are usually birds of the western United States and are certainly not seen as frequently in the east.
When Do Hummingbirds Arrive in Delaware
You can usually expect Ruby-throated hummingbirds to arrive in Delaware in mid-April. Some may be passing through en route to nesting sites further north. But others will remain here to breed and nest over the summer months.
Male Ruby-throated hummingbirds are the first visitors to arrive. They will come on their independent schedules to find territory and ready themselves for the breeding season. You can expect the female Ruby-throated hummingbirds to appear a week or so later. They will also require sustenance after making the long journey from Mexico or Central America to be ready for their onward journey or to build their nests and lay their eggs.
While we can tell you that you should expect hummingbirds to arrive around the middle of April, it should be noted that it is not possible to give an exact date.
The precise timing of their arrival will depend on the weather conditions, the route they took, and the availability of food along that route. These things can differ year to year. However, variation each year will not usually be significant, and you can generally expect hummingbirds to arrive around the same time each year.
Preparing for the Hummingbird Migration in Delaware
Preparing for the arrival of hummingbirds in Delaware might mean making sure that your garden is ready. If you are lucky enough to have an outside area, you should make the most of it for yourself, your family, and the wildlife that shares your space, hummingbirds included.
It is a delight to see hummingbirds up close. Hummingbirds are also pollinators and bring other benefits to your garden.
How to Attract Hummingbirds to a Delaware Garden
Before you think about how to attract hummingbirds to your Delaware garden, you should make sure you are not doing anything there that might pose a risk to these birds. Avoid using netting or other things in which birds may become entangled. Make sure you always garden organically.
The next thing to think about is what you plant in your garden. By choosing a wide range of native plants and combining them in the right ways, you can ensure hummingbirds are happy and have all they need.
Hummingbirds need nectar from flowering plants, but they also need insects as these also form an essential part of their diet. So, as well as nectary plants for hummingbirds, you should plant to attract a range of insect life.
Some plants for hummingbird-friendly gardens in Delaware include:
- Bee balm.
- Butterfly weed.
- Cockspur Hawthorn.
- Foxglove beardtongue.
- Great Blue Lobelia.
- Trumpet creeper
These are, of course, just a few examples of native plants that you might consider.
Hummingbirds also need nesting sites and habitats to suit their needs and preferences. So plant plenty of trees and shrubs in your garden, and add a water source. This can also help them feel at home and ensure that they have all they need. Think carefully about how habitats are created by combining plants in specific ways.
When Should I Put Out Hummingbird Feeders in Delaware?
If you place a hummingbird feeder in your Delaware garden, you should do so by the beginning of April, a couple of weeks before the first of these birds is expected to land. This will help to ensure that there is a food source available when the earliest migrant hummingbirds arrive.
When Do Hummingbirds Leave Delaware?
Ruby-throated hummingbirds will typically begin to leave in September, and most will have departed by the end of October.
The males will leave first, and the females and young will linger longer before they depart for the southward migration.
One thing to note during this period is that you may also spot several other hummingbird species passing through on their fall migration. So it is worthwhile keeping your eyes peeled for different hummingbirds that might stray into your area. However, they will typically not remain long and will usually also have departed by the end of October.
However, while southward migration is the norm, some hummingbirds may remain. Some hummingbirds will be too elderly, weak, or injured to make the trip south. So, it is still possible to spot the odd individual after the main fall migration has ended.
When Should I Take Down Hummingbird Feeders in Delaware?
It is best to leave a hummingbird feeder in place until at least two weeks after the feeder has not been visited. If you do not see hummingbirds, you should wait until the feed level within it stops going down and count from then.
In Delaware, it is common for this two-week period to have elapsed by mid-November at the latest. However, as mentioned above, some hummingbirds may be unable to migrate and might benefit from a food source remaining in place.
Some people worry that leaving a hummingbird feeder in place will prevent or discourage hummingbirds from migrating. But the availability of a meal for hummingbirds does not influence whether they make the migration or not.
Remember, planting and gardening for wildlife are more important than feeders in giving hummingbirds what they need. So creating a hummingbird-friendly garden in Delaware is undoubtedly the best thing you can do if you want to help these birds and see them up close on your property.