What’s not to love about hummingbirds?
They’re delightful, tiny, and colorful. When they show up in your garden or yard, it really starts to feel like summer!
Hummingbird watchers in Michigan are fortunate to have a lengthy hummingbird season as well as the potential to see several different varieties. Some states have as few as one hummingbird variety, whereas Michigan can be visited by up to six species a year.
When can Michigan’s hummingbird lovers spot these beautiful and tiny birds?
Hummingbirds are usually spotted upon their arrival in Michigan in late April. They continue to arrive for several weeks, as their migration patterns vary from one individual to the next. By the end of October, most hummingbirds will have already departed the state.
If you want to spot hummingbirds in Michigan, knowing when they will arrive and will depart is just one thing you should be aware of. You should also learn about when to put out your hummingbird feeders and how you can attract these little birds to your yard.
When Is the Hummingbird Arrival Window in Michigan?
Hummingbirds typically arrive in mid-April. Unfortunately, their arrival date is not entirely predictable.
That is because hummingbirds have to adapt to their surroundings and unique circumstances year after year. A hummingbird that settled in Southern Mexico may arrive at a different time than one that spent winter in Panama.
Additionally, weather events can affect when hummingbirds depart. They are unlikely to travel during a significant tropical storm, so the weather in Central America and the Gulf of Mexico can affect the arrival of hummingbirds to Michigan’s yards and gardens.
Because hummingbirds are dependent on a diet of insects, in addition to nectar, any events that affect the behavior of the bugs they eat can also impact their arrival date.
These subtle differences mean that hummingbirds will not all arrive at once.
Hummingbirds can typically be seen arriving in Michigan by mid-April. They will continue to come through May.
Is it True that Males Migrate First?
Yes! Males migrate first because they travel earlier in the season. This spreads out the migration patterns and ensures that males and females aren’t competing for resources during their long journey north.
The same is true when breeding season ends. The males will depart first, and the females and juveniles will leave about two weeks later.
In addition to weather, insects, and migration distance, hummingbird migration behaviors are also affected by their sex.
The first hummingbirds you see in Michigan are likely to be males. The last ones you spot are more likely to be females and juveniles.
Which Hummingbird Varieties Are Found in Michigan?
Only one hummingbird species is common in Michigan: the Ruby-throated hummingbird.
Ruby-throated hummingbirds are the most common hummingbirds in the US, and they visit nearly every state. You can recognize males by their ruby-red throats, which are in lovely contrast to their greyish-white chests. The males also feature shimmering green flanks and crowns, as well as forked tails that are just barely violet in color.
Females are not as brightly colored, but they are still wonderful to spot! Their white throats are speckled lightly, and they have greenish backs and sides that are less flashy than their male counterparts. Unlike males, female Ruby-throated hummingbirds have a notched tail instead of a forked one.
Other varieties of hummingbirds that are rare in Michigan but may still be spotted include:
- Rufous hummingbirds
- Mexican violetears
- Costas hummingbirds
- White-eared hummingbirds
- Berylline hummingbirds
- Anna’s hummingbirds
- Broad-billed hummingbirds
Do Hummingbirds Visit the Whole State of Michigan?
Great news! Hummingbirds make their way through the whole state of Michigan!
Unlike states that may only see hummingbirds in one small region, Michiganders can spot hummingbirds no matter where they live.
How Can You Attract Hummingbirds to Your Michigan Yard?
If you want to spot more than an incidental hummingbird here or there, you have options.
You can make your yard and garden as inviting as possible through what you plant and how you nurture your landscaping to support hummingbird habits.
Attracting hummingbirds is about knowing what they need to eat, where they like to nest, and when you should expect them to arrive and depart.
What Plants Attract Hummingbirds?
Plants and flowers are the best way to attract hummingbirds. Because hummingbirds are excellent pollinators, they are drawn to pollinator-friendly blooms. If a plant has colorful flowers, especially tubular-shaped blooms, they are likely to hold a lot of nectar. This makes them very appealing to hummingbirds!
Some Michigan-friendly plants for your hummingbird garden include bee balm, cardinal flowers, daylilies, foxglove, honeysuckle, impatiens, phlox, and trumpet vine.
However, keep in mind that not all of these plants can be grown throughout the whole state. Folks in the Upper Peninsula will need to choose more cold-hardy varieties. Check the gardening zone for any flower you want to plant to attract hummingbirds.
Also, native plants will always be better for your yard than invasive ones!
What About Hummingbirds & Insects?
Nectar-producing plants attract other pollinators, not just hummingbirds. That’s a good thing for hummingbird lovers!
Hummingbirds depend on a diet rich in small bugs, not just nectar. If you protect or attract bugs to your garden, you’ll also have more success attracting hummingbirds.
Adult hummingbirds will eat several dozen insects in a day and even more when preparing for their migration. On the other hand, hatchlings will eat fewer than adults, but still a lot of bugs. To grow strong, they need the fats, proteins, and salts that nectar simply can’t provide.
Keep in mind that chemical fertilizers, pesticides, and weed killers can impact your insect populations, leading to a reduced insect diet for the hummingbirds you are trying to attract.
What are the Benefits of Putting Out a Hummingbird Feeder?
The best way to attract hummingbirds, without fail, is to grow a garden rich with native, nectar-producing plants and to provide them with a good diet of insects.
However, feeders can be a great way to supplement those methods. And, if you live in an apartment or don’t have a large garden, feeders can bring hummingbirds right up to your window.
The benefits of hanging a feeder are not just that you get to see more hummingbirds. You will also support hummingbirds when they need it most, like when they have just arrived after migrating or when they are about to depart for the winter.
When Should Hummingbird Feeders Be Hung in Michigan?
The best time to hang your hummingbird feeder is before hummingbird season officially begins. That way, you can support the early arrivers.
Ideally, you will be able to hang your feeders in early April, anticipating their staggered mid-April to May arrival.
When Will Hummingbirds Depart Michigan?
Male hummingbirds will start to leave first, usually in August or early September. Some may depart as late as October. Females will leave a little bit later than males, usually about two weeks. The females will be accompanied by the juveniles they have hatched and raised in Michigan.
When To Bring Down Your Feeder
When hummingbirds depart over several weeks or even a couple of months, you still want to support the stragglers.
It’s possible for hummingbirds to stay in Michigan, even once the weather has turned much colder. Because of this, it is recommended that you leave your hummingbird feeders up–and filled!–until November.
Providing sugar water to hummingbirds before they migrate is incredibly helpful for individuals who stay past the time that nectar-producing blooms have died and insects have become harder to find.