Louisiana is in an incredible position for hummingbirds: it’s the first landfall these tiny birds make after their astonishing flight across the Gulf of Mexico.
Imagine a bird only about 4 inches long making a continuous flight of 500 miles over open water for 22 hours. That’s the amazing feat that thousands of hummingbirds accomplish every year when they fly across the Gulf!
When they arrive in Louisiana, they take some much-needed time to rest and refuel before continuing their journey north to breed and nest.
Louisiana is also lucky enough to have an increasing number of western hummingbird species wandering over to stay throughout the winter.
Let’s find out when these sparkling little birds will be making their appearance!
When Will the Hummingbirds Arrive in Louisiana?
Louisiana’s most common hummingbird, the Ruby-Throated hummingbird, will arrive beginning in late February. They’re on their way north to their nesting grounds, and they’ll be back again at the beginning of July.
Do the Hummingbirds Arrive in Louisiana All at Once or Gradually?
Hummingbirds are solo migrators rather than moving in flocks. Male hummingbirds depart first, leaving about a week before the females to seek out food and establish territories. The females will follow after them to mate and build their nests near the food.
Ruby-Throated hummingbirds arrive in late winter or very early spring on their way north, then return in the summer on their way back south. But western hummingbird species may arrive much later in the season, in late summer or fall.
Does the Weather Affect the Arrival of the Hummingbirds?
Due to climate change, the Ruby-Throated hummingbird has been departing its wintering grounds later and later each year. When it arrives in the Gulf Coast region on its way north, it’s also sticking around for longer, possibly resting after its long flight across the Gulf. This leads to a later arrival and a more extended stay in Louisiana for these hummingbirds.
Do the Hummingbirds Arrive in Different Parts of Louisiana at Different Times?
Wintering hummingbirds are more likely to hang out in the gulf coastal region of the state, but migrating hummingbirds can pass through Louisiana at any time during the spring hummingbird migration.
When Should I Put Out Hummingbird Feeders in Louisiana?
Put out your hummingbird feeders in mid-February, or about two weeks before you expect the first migrating hummingbirds. This will help you catch the early migrators that are looking for food.
When Should I Take Hummingbird Feeders Down in Louisiana?
For migratory hummingbirds passing through Louisiana, you can take down your feeders in mid-October, or two weeks after you last see a hummingbird use your feeders.
However, Louisiana has seen an increasing number of over-wintering species of hummingbirds coming from areas as far away as the west coast. These birds will stay as late as February or March. So if you’d like to see them and help them through the winter, you can leave your feeders up year-round!
What if I See Hummingbirds in Louisiana in the Middle of the Winter?
Many different species of hummingbirds are starting to show up at feeders in Louisiana over the winter, even though they usually hang out in the western part of the country. These include the Rufous hummingbird, Allen’s hummingbird, and the Calliope hummingbird.
Scientists are interested in learning why these hummingbirds are changing their traditional ranges. If you see winter hummingbirds at your feeders, you can report them to the Louisiana Audubon Society. Someone might want to band the birds in your backyard so they can study them and track where they go next.
Which Louisiana Flowers Attract Hummingbirds?
Migrating hummingbirds have a precisely timed system that follows the blooming of their favorite nectar-bearing flowers. You can attract them to your backyard by planting hummingbird-friendly flowers in your garden.
If you choose Louisiana native plants for your hummingbird garden, they’ll be easy to grow and beneficial to your local ecosystem while they’re busy bringing you beautiful hummingbirds.
Here are some Louisiana native plants that hummingbirds love:
- Cardinal Flower (Lobelia cardinalis)
- Red Buckeye (Aesculus pavia)
- Copper Iris (Iris fulva)
- Scarlet sage (Salvia coccinea)
- Trumpet vine (Campsis radicans)
- Coral Honeysuckle, aka Trumpet Honeysuckle (Lonicera sempervirens)
- Turk’s Cap (Malvaviscus arboreus var. drummondii)
- Giant Turk’s Cap (Malvaviscus penduliflorus)
- Mexican Cigar Plant (Cuphea micropetala)
Make a Place for Hummingbirds
If you’re setting out a bit of hospitality for hummingbirds in Louisiana, mark your calendar for late February as the first exhausted travelers make their way across the Gulf. After they’ve spent the spring fueling up for their trip north, things will quiet down for a bit until they return for their journey south in the summer. Bid migratory hummingbirds adieu at the beginning of October. But don’t worry, more and more wintering hummingbirds have been coming to Louisiana, and they will join you until the migrants return.