Minnesota springs can be such a delight after the long, cold winter. The arrival of hummingbirds in the state is one of the season’s delights – a sure sign of spring’s arrival and the promise of warm weather on its way.
Ruby-throated hummingbirds arrive in Minnesota starting in late April but will typically arrive in early May. They will mostly remain to breed and nest in the state before they make their way back south in August or perhaps early September.
The best times to see hummingbirds in Minnesota are soon after they arrive during the spring migration and as they begin to make their way southward in the late summer/ very early fall.
What Hummingbirds are Seen in Minnesota?
Ruby-throated hummingbirds are the only birds that are typical visitors. They are the only species that nests in the state. However, the Rufous hummingbird may occasionally be seen in Minnesota.
If you are keen to spot a Ruby-throated hummingbird in Minnesota, there are many wonderful places where you might be able to do so in the land of 10,000 lakes. From visitor gardens in Minneapolis to tranquil nature reserves, hummingbirds can be seen at several prime birdwatching spots.
Of course, you might also be lucky enough to see hummingbirds in your own Minnesota garden. You’ll find some tips on attracting them and aiding them in your garden below.
When Do Hummingbirds Arrive in Minnesota?
Ruby-throated hummingbirds will start to arrive in Minnesota around late April or early May. The timing will not be hugely different from year to year, but it can differ slightly depending on the weather conditions and food availability in a given year.
Of course, the timing of the hummingbird migration will also differ slightly depending on where precisely you live in the state. Those in the south will typically see the first hummingbirds arrive just a little bit earlier than those living further north.
The males of the species are the first to arrive. They will be the advance wave, coming into the state to establish their territory and prepare for the breeding season.
The female hummingbirds will likely begin to arrive a week or two later. After breeding, they will build their nests and lay their eggs. They will then continue to care for their young until they migrate back south to their wintering grounds in Central America.
Preparing for the Arrival of Hummingbirds in Minnesota
Hummingbirds are such delightful guests that it makes sense to prepare for their arrival. If you have your own garden, you can ensure that it is as hummingbird-friendly as it can possibly be.
Preparing for hummingbirds often means placing hummingbird feeders. But there is something that can be even more important: creating hummingbird-friendly habitat with native planting.
If you are lucky and have a suitable spot – in trees or shrubs often close to or overhanging water – you may even be lucky enough to have hummingbirds nesting on your property.
If you expect hummingbirds to nest on your property, then it is also a good idea to take steps to ensure that they are not disturbed by your activity during the nesting season. Hummingbirds should be left in peace while sharing your space.
How to Attract Hummingbirds to a Minnesota Garden
Hummingbirds will appreciate a garden that provides a meal for hummingbirds and gives them a safe and pleasant experience during their stay.
You should ensure that there is no netting or other features that could hurt hummingbirds. And you should also garden organically. Avoiding harmful pesticides, herbicides, and synthetic fertilizers will help keep hummingbirds and other wildlife safe.
Choosing native plants is important in a hummingbird-friendly garden. So seek out Minnesota native plants rather than planting invasive or non-native species. State native plants are well suited to provide for the needs of the native hummingbirds.
When choosing native plants for a hummingbird-friendly garden, you should, of course, think about the specific conditions where you live. Designing your garden to suit your bioregion is a great idea.
In Minnesota, the west would largely have been undisturbed prairie, so incorporating native prairie planting can be an excellent way to bring in and aid the hummingbirds and other wildlife.
Small-scale reforestation, or tree planting, can be a wonderful choice if you live in one of the areas of the state where tree cover should and did predominate.
Rewilding small areas of your backyard can turn them into havens for hummingbirds and other wildlife.
Just a few native Minnesota plants that are great for providing nectar and insects for hummingbirds to eat are:
- Bee balm.
- Cardinal flower.
- Great blue lobelia.
- Native Coral bell (Heuchera).
- Native Penstemons.
- Native Salvias
- Royal catchfly
- Trumpet creeper
There are, of course, many more native plants that will be beneficial in a hummingbird-friendly Minnesota garden, and this is not a comprehensive list.
Growing your own food can provide prime hummingbird habitat no matter where you live in Minnesota. Remember, growing food does not necessarily mean growing vegetables in simple square foot gardens or rows.
You can create colorful combinations of annual crops. Companion plant with annual flowers that hummingbirds will love.
You can also plant perennial schemes suited to your climate zone – with trees, shrubs, and herbaceous plants combined to make a food forest. Hummingbirds will love it, and it will also provide abundant yields for you.
When Should I Put Out Hummingbird Feeders in Minnesota?
Once you have created a garden where hummingbirds will be safe and be able to find all that they need, it is time to carefully choose where to place a feeder.
It is best to put out your hummingbird feeders a week or two before you expect the first hummingbirds to arrive to provide sustenance for any early arrivals.
This typically means making sure that your feeders are in place in Minnesota by the middle of April.
But be wary of placing feeders out too early, as you don’t want them to freeze if there is a sudden cold snap in the spring. So it is a good idea to check the weather forecast before placing your feeders outside.
When Do Hummingbirds Leave Minnesota?
Male Ruby-throated hummingbirds can leave Minnesota as early as the beginning of August and will almost invariably depart sometime during that month.
The female Ruby-throated hummingbirds will linger longer, though they will typically also leave by the end of August or in early September.
When Should I Take Down Hummingbird Feeders in Minnesota?
You should make sure that your hummingbird feeder is regularly filled while hummingbirds are in residence. And, you should leave it up until a couple of weeks after you last see a hummingbird in your garden.
Leaving your hummingbird feeder up for an extra couple of weeks will ensure that there is still a food source for any late migrating hummingbirds in your garden.
In Minnesota, this usually means leaving hummingbird feeders in place until around mid-September.
Understanding the patterns of hummingbird migration, and when they arrive and leave in Minnesota, can help you do what you can to aid and welcome them while they are in your area. But this is just the first step. Make sure you do what you can to protect and help hummingbirds in your garden.