Is there anything more delightful than looking out your window and seeing a tiny hummingbird darting from flower to flower? Hummingbirds are a joy to countless Americans, including people in Mississippi. These colorful creatures are some of the smallest birds on earth, and it can feel like quite a treat for a hummingbird fan to see one in their garden or yard!
Good news: Mississippi’s warm weather makes it a perfect place for hummingbirds to spend a long mating season! Typically, the earliest hummingbirds begin arriving in Mississippi in early March through late spring. They stay through the summer months and into the fall, departing in November.
If you know when hummingbirds begin to migrate into Mississippi, you can anticipate their arrival! With a little planning, you can also create a hospitable environment for them once they arrive.
Anticipating the Arrival of Hummingbirds in Mississippi
Although hummingbirds are habitual creatures who follow somewhat predictable patterns, there is no way to predict the precise day they will arrive in Mississippi. Hummingbirds adjust their migratory behaviors every year.
For example, weather conditions in Central and South America could affect when they start their annual spring migration. A storm that strikes during their migration may slow them down, as will circumstances affecting the insect populations that they feed on.
Sometimes, a hummingbird will just be a straggler, and it’s not really possible to know why. They’ll just start their migration a little later than most of the other hummingbirds of their species.
Because of all these differences, hummingbirds’ arrival in Mississippi can spread out over several weeks or even a few months. However, most hummingbirds will arrive in the middle of March.
These birds will find their mates upon arrival, building nests, laying and hatching eggs, and raising their young during the summer breeding months. They won’t leave until their newly fledged hummingbirds are ready to migrate, usually in November.
How Does Sex Affect Migration Patterns?
The individual bird’s sex also determines hummingbird migration behaviors. Male hummingbirds can be spotted before females, as they migrate a few weeks before the females.
Splitting the migration period up by sex means that hummingbirds don’t have to compete for resources on their long migratory journey.
What Hummingbird Varieties are Found in Mississippi?
Only two species of hummingbird are commonly spotted in Mississippi. However, seven rare species have the potential to visit the state, either during their migration or for part of their breeding season.
The two native breeding hummingbird species that visit Mississippi are the small, Ruby-throated hummingbird, the most plentiful hummingbird in the United States, and the Rufous hummingbird.
Male Ruby-throated hummingbirds have a ruby-red throat that can be spotted from a distance. It is in contrast to their white-ish gray chests. Flanks and crowns are a beautiful shimmering green, and their forked tales look somewhat violet.
The female Ruby-throated hummingbird has a plainer appearance and tends to blend more into the environment. Their white throats are lightly speckled, and they have greenish backs and sides. Their tails are notched instead of forked.
On the other hand, Rufous hummingbirds look quite different from their Ruby-throated cousins. Males are orange, with a dark orange throat, and have a patch of white on their breast. Females are green, with a speckled throat and rusty patches on their feathers.
Rare visitors to Mississippi include Black-chinned hummingbirds, Calliope hummingbirds, Allen’s hummingbirds, Buff-bellied hummingbirds, Broad-tailed hummingbirds, Broad-billed hummingbirds, and Anna’s hummingbirds.
Attracting Hummingbirds to Your Mississippi Garden
If you want to see more hummingbirds, there are some things you can do to make your garden, yard, and landscaping appealing to them!
You can take a few different approaches to attract hummingbirds. Depending on the time, money, and effort you have to spare, you can either create a great habitat for hummingbirds or use hummingbird feeders.
Your main goal should be to make your yard attractive to nesting hummingbirds. If hummingbirds nest near your home, you will see them all season long!
Plants that Attract Hummingbirds
The first thing to do is plant things that attract hummingbirds.
Hummingbirds are pollinators. That means they are attracted to pollinator-friendly plants. If your garden is full of plants with lots of colorful, tubular flowers, you’ll have a lot more success bringing hummingbirds to your flowerbeds.
You can plant annuals or perennials in Mississippi. Hummingbird-friendly annuals include begonias, Fuschia, geraniums, impatiens, lilies, nasturtium, petunias, and zinnia.
Perennials that attract hummingbirds include bee balm, blazing star, butterfly weed, cannas, the cardinal flower, carpet bugles, coral bells, four o-clocks, lantana, penstemon, phlox, salvia, dianthus, and verbena.
Prioritizing native species is a good gardening strategy to help Mississippi’s flora and fauna.
Understanding Insects and Hummingbirds
In addition to being attractive to hummingbirds, nectar-producing plants also attract insects.
Often, gardeners use pesticides to kill those bugs. However, hummingbirds consume significant numbers of insects as part of their diet. They can’t survive on nectar alone!
Hummingbirds eat insects and insect larva, as well as their eggs, to get the fats, proteins, and salts that nectar can’t provide. Hatchlings, in particular, are dependent on insects to thrive. Adult hummingbirds will eat dozens of insects daily, especially if they are preparing for or recovering from migration.
If you really want to increase your hummingbird sightings, avoid pesticides, chemical fertilizers, and weed-killers that could damage the insect population that feeds the hummingbirds of Mississippi.
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.
Are Hummingbird Feeders a Good Idea?
Although a garden full of nectar-producing plants is your best bet for attracting hummingbirds, a hummingbird feeder can be an additional strategy.
If you choose to put out a hummingbird feeder, you will be supplementing their natural diet with sugar water.
This is especially helpful to the hummingbird population after they have first arrived and need to restore their strength following such a long journey. They also benefit from the extra nutrition when it’s time to prepare for departure in the fall.
Providing a clean, full hummingbird feeder from the season’s start to its finish will help the species thrive.
When Should Hummingbird Feeders Be Put Out in Mississippi?
Hang your feeder in early March to support the males that arrive in the earliest waves of migration. You can also put out water features and potted plants around the same time.
When Will Hummingbirds Leave Mississippi?
Hummingbirds will begin their departure from Mississippi in November. Males will depart first, followed by females and juveniles. It will take a few weeks for all of the hummingbirds to leave, but they are typically gone by the end of November.
When Should You Take Down Your Hummingbird Feeder?
Don’t take down your hummingbird feeder until you know with confidence that the hummingbirds have left your area. If you spot a late-season hummingbird, leave the feeders up for at least two more weeks.
Late November or early December is the best time to bring your hummingbird feeders in and put them away for the rest of the winter months. Be sure to clean them thoroughly before putting them out again the next March!