It’s impossible to talk about hummingbirds without getting excited! These birds are impressive by any definition of the word. They’re the smallest birds on the planet, the best flyers, excessively beautiful, and they make a journey of thousands of miles, all by themselves, every year–twice!
Is it any wonder that everyone wants to know when they’ll arrive? Their return north is big news!
Let’s find out when we should get ready for the hummingbirds to return to Maryland.
When Will the Hummingbirds Arrive in Maryland?
The Ruby-throated hummingbird, Maryland’s only native breeding hummingbird, will start arriving in Maryland in mid-April. They will continue to come for a few weeks until about mid-May.
Do the Hummingbirds Arrive in Maryland All at Once or Gradually?
Hummingbirds are very independent and migrate by themselves, not in flocks. The males take off first, about a week before the females. They’re searching for the best food spots, which means you need to have your feeders ready!
Once the males have established their territories around their favorite places to feed, they will defend them against other male hummingbirds and even birds much larger than themselves.
The females will join the males later to mate, build nests, and raise their young. All of the Ruby-throated hummingbirds will have arrived in Maryland by mid-May.
Are the Ruby-Throated Hummingbirds Making a Comeback?
Unlike many other species of hummingbirds, which have been struggling, the Ruby-throated hummingbirds are actually growing in numbers!
From 1966 to 2019, their population grew by an average of 25% per decade. It’s estimated that there are about 20 million breeding Ruby-throats overall.
You can help Ruby-throated hummingbirds stay strong by avoiding the use of pesticides, keeping all cats indoors, and planting pollinator-friendly native plants.
Do Any Other Kinds of Hummingbirds Come to Maryland?
Although Maryland’s only native breeding hummingbird is the Ruby-throated hummingbird, occasionally, there will be a few appearances from stray hummingbirds of other species. These birds are unusual sights because their normal ranges are west of the Mississippi river!
Some species of hummingbirds that have been rarely spotted in Maryland include the Rufous hummingbird, Allen’s hummingbird, and the Broad-tailed hummingbird.
If you spot these birds, they are typically on their way back south to their distant nesting grounds in Mexico and Central America in the late summer and early fall.
When Should I Put Out Hummingbird Feeders in Maryland?
Put out your hummingbird feeders in Maryland at the beginning of April, or about 1-2 weeks before you expect hummingbirds’ earliest arrival. This will ensure that hungry and tired migrating birds can find your feeders stocked and ready.
Hummingbirds have remarkable memories and can return year after year to the same places to feed. But because of their intense energy needs, hummingbirds that show up and find your yard empty may be forced to move on and find other food sources. If you want to be sure of attracting them, get your feeders ready early!
When Should I Take Hummingbird Feeders Down in Maryland?
You should take your hummingbird feeders down in Maryland in the second week of October, or two weeks after you last see a hummingbird using your feeders. The hummingbirds begin to depart Maryland in mid-to-late September and are usually gone around the beginning of October.
Hummingbirds return south individually, males first, then females, and finally, juveniles who have to finish fattening up for their first trip down. Your feeders may help a straggler get ready for their long journey.
You don’t have to worry that leaving your feeders up will prevent the hummingbirds from migrating. Each bird knows when it’s time to go, thanks to its internal clock, which is triggered by the changing length of the day. Hummingbirds migrate individually to help them make the best use of the food and resources available to them. They will go when they’re ready, and your feeders will help them!
Which Maryland Flowers Attract Hummingbirds?
Hummingbirds carefully time their migrations to coincide with the blooming of the flowers they rely on for nectar. You can draw them to your garden by planting their favorites!
An even better choice is to plant Maryland native flowers in your garden for hummingbirds. You’ll help create a habitat for hummingbirds and other pollinators, boost the Chesapeake ecosystem, and have the easiest plants to grow where you live.
Here are some Maryland native plants that hummingbirds love:
- Bee Balm (Monarda didyma)
- Cardinal Flower (Lobelia cardinalis)
- Blue Cardinal Flower (Lobelia siphilitica)
- Ox Eye Sunflower (Heliopsis helianthoides)
- White Turtlehead (Chelone glabra)
- Eastern Red Columbine (Aquilegia canadensis)
- Honeysuckle Vine (Lonicera sempervirens)
- Liatris (Liatris spicata)
- Obedient Plant (Physostegia virginiana)
- Woodland Pinkroot (Spigelia marilandica)
It’s Time for Hummingbirds!
Feeders cleaned and stocked with clear sugar water? Check! Cameras at the ready? Check! Get ready for those Ruby-throated hummingbirds to return to Maryland in mid-April. Enjoy their company all summer, and say farewell in late September as they begin their journey home.
Until next year, happy birding!