During the cold winter months, do you find yourself looking forward to the warm weather, not just because of beautiful days and more sunshine, but because of the return of hummingbirds? Hummingbirds are one of the most delightful creatures in Kansas, but watchful hummingbird enthusiasts only get to enjoy them for what feels like a few short months.
When can Kansans expect to see hummingbirds arrive in the state? And, when do they leave for their annual migration to warmer weather?
In Kansas, hummingbirds should arrive by early to mid-April. The males arrive first, followed by the females. These tiny birds mate lay their eggs, and raise their babies until the males leave again in July. The females and juveniles follow in August, which means that Kansas’s hummingbird season lasts from mid-April to mid-August.
If you understand when hummingbirds are present in Kansas, it is much easier to have consistent hummingbird sightings! You can also prepare your garden and landscaping to make your home more welcoming to hummingbirds.
Which Hummingbird Varieties Come to Kansas?
Fifteen different hummingbird species live within the US borders. A handful of states see occasional hummingbird visitors from Canada or Mexico, but Kansas is limited to just eight total species.
The only common hummingbird in Kansas is the Ruby-throated hummingbird. Ruby-throated hummingbirds feature an easily recognizable ruby-colored throat, white collar, forked tail, and green back. Females of the species have shimmering green backs, and their tail feathers are banded in white, black, and greyish-green.
The other seven species you may encounter in Kansas, but with much less frequency than the ruby-throated hummingbird, are Allen’s hummingbird, Anna’s hummingbird, the Black-chinned hummingbird, the Broad-tailed hummingbird, Calliope hummingbirds, Costa’s hummingbirds, and the Rufous hummingbird.
When Should Birders Expect Hummingbirds to Arrive in Kansas?
After traveling 500 miles over the Gulf of Mexico without stopping, Ruby-throated hummingbirds begin to arrive in Kansas by mid-April. They will settle into the region for the spring and summer. As the weather gets warmer, attentive hummingbird admirers will get to see them gathering nectar from wildflowers and hummingbird feeders.
Do Male or Female Hummingbirds Arrive First?
A hummingbird’s sex determines its migration habits. If you start to notice the distinctive colors of male Ruby-throated hummingbirds before females, that makes sense! The reason is that male hummingbirds arrive first. The females arrive within a week or two after.
They will spend several days building their nests when they arrive as part of the hummingbird mating process. This includes finding the perfect location, gathering materials, and assembling the nest where they will lay their eggs, hatch their young, and raise their tiny babies.
How Do Hummingbird Migration Patterns Change?
Even though it would be great to know exactly when hummingbirds will arrive in Kansas every year, there will always be small variables that can affect when they come.
Weather conditions may limit their departure from where they spent the winter in Northern Mexico and Central America. Because the hummingbird diet is dependent on eating insects, any environmental event that affects insects can also affect hummingbird migration behavior.
However, there are few major changes to the migration of hummingbirds. In Kansas, you can expect to see the birds arrive in mid-April.
Attracting Hummingbirds to Your Kansas Garden or Yard
Spotting an individual hummingbird is a joyous event for birders across Kansas.
If you want to see more of them, you should make your yard, garden, and landscaping as appealing as possible to nesting hummingbirds. This way, you do not just depend on good luck to see a hummingbird. You can see hummingbirds for the whole season if you put in the effort to create an attractive hummingbird garden!
What Plants Should You Grow?
To start, plant what attracts hummingbirds. They are pollinators, which means they are drawn to pollinator-friendly plants. Colorful plants with tubular blooms hold a lot of nectar, making them an especially attractive meal for hummingbirds.
Some tubular-shaped flowers that can be grown in Kansas include columbines, daylilies, foxgloves, hollyhocks, lupines, cleomes, impatiens, petunias, and bee balms.
Native species should always be prioritized over invasive ones, and don’t forget to consider the wildlife in your area. You don’t want to plant anything that would endanger area wildlife or pets.
Why Do You Want to Attract Insects?
Nectar-producing plants attract insects. That may sound like something you would want to avoid, but if your goal is to increase hummingbird sightings, then it is something you definitely want to do!
Hummingbirds eat small bugs, including their larvae and eggs. Insects provide them with the fat, protein, and salts that nectar doesn’t offer. Hatchlings are especially dependent on insects to grow into healthy juveniles and adults.
Adult hummingbirds eat several dozen insects every single day. They eat even more when they are preparing for a migration (or recovering from one)!
To create an insect-friendly garden, avoid using chemical fertilizers, pesticides, and weed-killers, as these chemicals can kill the insects that feed the hummingbirds you want to attract.
Should You Put Out a Hummingbird Feeder?
The absolute best way to attract hummingbirds is to have a garden full of native, nectar-producing, insect-attracting plants. Sometimes, though, it helps to supplement these natural options with a hummingbird feeder.
Right after hummingbirds arrive in Kansas, they need to eat as much as possible to recover from their migration. When they are preparing to migrate again in the fall, they will need to increase their caloric consumption. Those are good times to fill your feeders with hummingbird-safe sugar water.
You may also decide to hang hummingbird feeders if you haven’t had the chance to plant your nectar-rich plants or if a storm or environmental issue has prevented proper plant growth. Providing a hummingbird feeder will help hummingbirds survive until the plants recover and they can collect enough nectar again.
When Should Kansans Put Out Their Hummingbird Feeders?
You can put your hummingbird feeder out in early April to support those early migratory arrivals! These feeders will supplement the diets of hummingbirds who arrive in the state before the full spring bloom.
Don’t forget that other items may assist hummingbirds during their arrival! Water sources and potted flowers can also provide hummingbirds with what they need to thrive.
When Do Hummingbirds Leave Kansas?
Male hummingbirds will begin leaving Kansas in July, although they could stay until August. Females and younger birds will follow a few weeks later. Hummingbirds have usually left Kansas entirely by September, with the last migrations starting by mid-October.
When Should You Put Away Your Hummingbird Feeders?
Because of the variations in migratory patterns, it is always possible that hummingbirds will stay in Kansas a little later than usual. If a straggler stays around as late as October, a feeder may help them on their way.
Put away your hummingbird feeder in November, or no earlier than two weeks after your last hummingbird spotting.
Migration Differences Throughout the State
Because Kansas is a large state, you may notice some differences between when hummingbirds arrive and leave one region or another. Traveling from the south, they come to southern Kansas first. Because Ruby-throated hummingbirds fly about 20 miles each day, it can take several weeks for those that settle in the northern part of the state to make it south at the end of the season.
If you are an attentive birder, you will be able to see hummingbirds in Kansas for several months as they arrive, breed, thrive and fly back south to spend the winter.