Hummingbirds are one of the best-loved birds in the backyard, and it’s not surprising that everyone gets excited about the big hummingbird migration north every year. These miniature jewels make an extraordinary journey of thousands of miles to raise babies the size of a jellybean!
But in Idaho, you can get excited about the migratory visitors, like the Broad-tailed, Calliope, or Rufous Hummingbirds, and expect a very special visitor that just might become a full-time neighbor!
When will the hummingbirds come to Idaho? Which hummingbird might stay? Read on, and get your feeders ready!
When Will the Hummingbirds Arrive in Idaho?
Most hummingbirds begin to arrive in Idaho in mid-April and continue to arrive until early May. However, Anna’s hummingbirds are different. They will show up in October, and some even stay year-round!
Do the Hummingbirds Arrive in Idaho All at Once or Gradually?
Hummingbirds on the spring migration take several weeks to arrive in Idaho. Hummingbirds migrate individually, not in flocks.
The males will come first, seeking good food sources and staking out their territories. The females arrive about a week later to join them and mate.
Anna’s hummingbirds fly separately in their own fall migration unless they were already hanging out all year!
Does the Weather Affect the Arrival of the Hummingbirds?
Climate change has caused the snow to melt sooner than usual in recent years, which means the Glacier Lily blooms sooner. That’s bad news for Broad-tailed hummingbirds because they rely on Glacier Lilies as a food source. The Glacier Lily now blooms 13 days before the first arrival of the Broad-tailed hummingbirds, which can cause them to struggle to find food when they arrive.
When Should I Put Out Hummingbird Feeders in Idaho?
You should put out your hummingbird feeders in Idaho during the last week of March, or 1-2 weeks before you expect the earliest hummingbird arrivals. This will help you to feed any early birds!
Hummingbirds have incredible memories, and they will return to the same place year after year to find food. But because they have to eat so frequently, sometimes as often as every five minutes, they’ll be forced to seek out other food sources if your feeders aren’t out when they arrive. So be sure to have your feeders ready in advance!
When Should I Take Hummingbird Feeders Down in Idaho?
If you’re feeding migratory hummingbirds in Idaho, you can take down your feeders at the beginning of November, or two weeks after you last see a hummingbird at your feeder.
You don’t have to worry that leaving your feeders up will prevent hummingbirds from migrating. Hummingbirds migrate individually, according to their own internal clocks, which are triggered by the shortening length of daylight. When you see stragglers hanging out at your feeders, it’s usually because they’re eating hearty to fuel their trip south.
However, if you get a hummingbird at your feeder late in the season that just doesn’t seem to be going anywhere, it might not be migrating at all! Read on to the next question for more details.
Why Do I See Hummingbirds in Idaho in the Middle of Winter?
If you see a hummingbird in winter in Idaho, chances are it’s an Anna’s hummingbird. No one is entirely sure why yet, but some Anna’s hummingbirds have decided to stay in Idaho year-round. It may have to do with the establishment of the blue gum eucalyptus and the expansion of urban gardens with flowers and nectar feeders.
To help Anna’s hummingbirds through the winter, you might want to keep your feeders out, especially if you spot a hummingbird still using them. If a cold snap takes away other food sources, your feeder could become really important for that bird!
Also, you can join a citizen science project to help researchers learn where Anna’s hummingbirds are taking up residence and why. Go to Boise State University’s winter hummingbirds page to learn more about Anna’s hummingbirds and report your winter sightings.
Which Idaho Flowers Attract Hummingbirds?
When hummingbirds fly north, they’ll be looking for their favorite flowers, so why not plant a few in your garden? Choosing Idaho native plants will ensure that you are doing the best thing for the hummingbirds and your local ecosystem.
Here are some native Idaho flowers that hummingbirds love:
- Hummingbird Mint (Agastache spp.)
- Scarlet Gilia (Ipomopsis aggregata)
- Penstemon (Penstemon spp.)
- Scarlet Bulger (Penstemon barbatus)
- Columbine (Aquilegia spp.)
- Bluebell Bellflower (Campanula rotundifolia)
- Desert Larkspur (Delphinium scaposum)
- Glacier Lily (Erythronium grandiflorum)
- Fireweed (Chamerion angustifolium)
Get Ready to Meet the Hummingbirds!
Get out your bird feeders and cameras because the hummingbirds arrive in Idaho in mid-April! After you’ve enjoyed their beauty and incredible flying skills, say bon voyage to the hummingbirds in mid-October as they head south again. But if you’re lucky, some Anna’s hummingbirds just might move in for good, and you can enjoy their company year-round!