When the days grow just long enough, and the sun warms the ground to just the right temperature, thousands of teeny tiny little birds get an impulse: it’s time for a road trip!
One by one, they set off, traveling thousands of miles, sometimes over land and sometimes over open waters.
Then they get down to the serious business of finding food, defending it, building nests, and raising their young–sometimes as many as six clutches in one season!
It’s all in a day’s work for the only native breeding hummingbird of the eastern United States, the Ruby-throated hummingbird.
The shimmering jewel in any garden east of the Mississippi, the Ruby-throated hummingbird raises its young in Indiana. But this long-distance traveler isn’t just a highly-anticipated visitor to the Hoosier state. It’s also sometimes a full-time neighbor for lucky Indiana residents!
Let’s find out more about these hard-working hummingbirds and when you can see them in Indiana!
When Will the Hummingbirds Arrive in Indiana?
Indiana’s only native breeding hummingbird, the Ruby-throated hummingbird, will begin to arrive at the start of April.
While staying in Indiana, these birds will raise an average of two clutches of young but may hatch as many as six!
But not all the Ruby-throated hummingbirds in Indiana are migrating through the state. Some of these native gems are year-round residents that will stay with you during the winter!
Do the Hummingbirds Arrive in Indiana All at Once or Gradually?
Hummingbirds are very independent and spend a lot of their lives solo, including their incredible migrations. They will come north by themselves, starting with the males. They gradually sweep northward through Indiana, arriving in the southern part first.
Male hummingbirds strike out for the north to find all the best food spots and create territories that they will defend against other males. The females follow about a week later to join the males, mate, build nests, and rear the young.
Do the Hummingbirds Arrive in Different Parts of Indiana at Different Times?
The hummingbirds are on their way north and will arrive in the southern parts of Indiana first, at the beginning of April. By mid-April, they will arrive in central Indiana. Finally, the northern parts of Indiana will see hummingbirds by the end of April or the beginning of May.
During the late fall migration in Indiana, you may see some occasional stragglers from western species of hummingbirds that are far outside their typical range.
But typically, if you see hummingbirds in Indiana during the winter, they’re Indiana’s native Ruby-throated hummingbirds, making their homes year-round in the Hoosier State.
When Should I Put Out Hummingbird Feeders in Indiana?
You should put out your hummingbird feeders in Indiana in mid-March, or about two weeks before you expect the earliest hummingbirds to start to arrive. That ensures you won’t miss any hummers!
Hummingbirds that have made the long journey from Mexico or even Panama to Indiana need to refuel after their trip. They will remember all the places they’ve fed from in previous years, but if they stop by and there are no feeders out, they may be forced to move on. Hummingbirds sometimes have to eat as often as every five minutes to keep up their incredible wingbeat count!
When Should I Take Hummingbird Feeders Down in Indiana?
You should take your hummingbird feeders down in Indiana by mid-November, or two weeks after you last see a hummingbird use them. Migrating hummingbirds will have departed Indiana by this time.
You don’t have to worry that leaving your feeders up will discourage hummingbirds from migrating. Each hummingbird’s internal clock signals them to migrate when it’s time, based on the length of daylight. Just as they arrived, the males will go first, followed by the females, once they’re finished rearing their young and getting them ready to migrate.
However, some Ruby-throated hummingbirds choose to skip the migration and over-winter in Indiana. If you’d like to enjoy the company of these birds throughout the winter, you can leave your feeders up year-round!
Which Indiana Flowers Attract Hummingbirds?
Everyone who loves hummingbirds knows that hummingbirds love flowers! Their migrations are timed to help them take maximum advantage of the nectar production from those flowers. You can attract hummingbirds by planting their favorites.
The best garden choices are Indiana native plants. These will be the easiest to grow, the best for your local ecosystem, and the best for the hummingbirds. Win-win-win!
Here are some Indiana native plants that hummingbirds love:
- Ohio Buckeye (Aesculus glabra)
- Swamp Rose Mallow (Hibiscus moscheutos)
- Copper Iris (Iris fulva)
- Fire Pink (Silene virginica)
- Royal Catchfly (Silene regia)
- Dense Blazing Star (Liatris spicata)
- Orange Jewelweed (Impatiens capensis)
- Trumpet Creeper (Campis radicans)
- Trumpet Honeysuckle (Lonicera sempervirens)
- Crossvine (Bignonia capreolata)
- Passionflower (Passiflora spp.)
Get Ready for Hummingbirds!
Fill up those feeders and get out your cameras because the hummingbirds are coming to Indiana at the start of April. Enjoy their antics as they feed and nest through the summer, and then wish them safe travels as they head south at the end of October. But you might want to leave those feeders up because some Ruby-throated hummingbirds will stay in Indiana all year long. Enjoy!