Hummingbirds are just one of a huge range of bird species that you might encounter across New Hampshire.
From the Great North Woods to the White Mountains, to the Lake Region, to the Seacoast, to the Merrimack Valley, to the Monadnock Region, to the area around Dartmouth/ Lake Sunapee, Hampshire’s varied geography leads to incredible biodiversity.
The hummingbird you are most likely to see in New Hampshire is the Ruby-throated hummingbird. This species typically arrives around the first week of May. It often breeds and nests in the state before leaving sometime in September.
Learning when hummingbirds arrive in and leave New Hampshire is one of the first steps you should take to understand how to increase your chances of an encounter. It should help you understand how to aid this amazing species.
What Hummingbirds are Seen in New Hampshire?
By far, the hummingbird you are most likely to encounter in New Hampshire is the Ruby-throated hummingbird. However, Rufous hummingbirds are also sometimes seen here, and other hummingbirds have rarely been sighted. The Calliope hummingbird is a rare vagrant here.
Rufous hummingbirds are typically just passing through, while the Ruby-throated hummingbird will often breed and nest in New Jersey over the summer months. The Ruby-throated is the only hummingbird species that nests here, and some individuals may even remain in the state year-round.
When Do Hummingbirds Arrive in New Hampshire
Ruby-throated and Rufous hummingbirds will typically arrive in late April or, more commonly, in early May. The first week in May is usually when you will first notice hummingbirds in the state each year.
The males of the species are the first to arrive during the spring migration. They come first to establish their territories. A week to two weeks later, the females will arrive. Those that will nest in the state will begin their breeding period around June.
Hummingbird migration timing will vary depending on the weather and other conditions in a given year. However, hummingbird migration times will differ only very slightly from year to year.
One important thing to remember is that hummingbirds do not migrate en masse. Each bird migrates on its schedule and may choose its own specific route from its wintering grounds in Mexico or Central America.
So, individual hummingbirds will arrive independently over a period of time, rather than coming in a group.
Another thing to remember is that the birds move in a northward direction during the spring migration.
So the further north you live in New Hampshire, the later the hummingbirds are likely to arrive. Those in the south may see these birds a few days before people in the state’s north.
Preparing for the Hummingbird Migration in New Hampshire
When you think about preparing for the arrival of hummingbirds in New Hampshire, placing a hummingbird feeder may be the first thing on your mind. However, while placing a feeder can be beneficial, there are other things that you can do for hummingbirds on your property.
When preparing for hummingbird migration, you should remember that hummingbirds will typically have traveled a long way to reach your area.
They will usually have undertaken a long and often arduous journey from Mexico or even further south. So they require sustenance and suitable habitat upon their arrival.
Providing them with natural habitat and natural food sources should be the first step you take to create a hummingbird-friendly garden.
How to Attract Hummingbirds to a New Hampshire Garden
Attracting hummingbirds to your garden is not just about providing a meal for hummingbirds – though that is an important part of the picture.
Some great plants for hummingbirds in New Hampshire gardens include:
- Anise hyssop
- Bee balm
- Foxglove beardtongue
- Trumpet honeysuckle
Remember, providing water sources and nesting sites as well as nectar and insects for these birds to eat is also essential in providing hummingbirds with what they need and attracting them to your New Hampshire garden.
You should also always make sure to garden organically and not use products that may pose a risk to wildlife in your area.
You should also think carefully about how you combine native plants to create appropriate habitat for the birds and other wildlife using your space. In this largely forested state, planting native areas of forest and restoring native forest cover can also aid our feathered friends.
Even on a small scale, rewilding on your property can be a boon to these and other birds. Planting trees on your property will provide hummingbirds with nesting sites and create shelter and windbreaks in more exposed locations.
When Should I Put Out Hummingbird Feeders in New Hampshire?
Once you have a hummingbird-friendly environment, placing feeders can, of course, also be a great thing to do. But you should only really consider this after you have already given some thought to providing natural habitat and food sources.
Feeders should be in position a couple of weeks before you expect the first hummingbirds to arrive to cater to early migrants. In New Hampshire, that typically means placing a hummingbird feeder around mid-April or by the end of the month at the very latest.
When Do Hummingbirds Leave New Hampshire?
Ruby-throated hummingbirds typically leave New Hampshire in September. The males are the first to go, just as they were the first to arrive. The females will linger with the young and typically depart a week or two later.
Most hummingbirds heading on the southward migration will have left by the end of September, though some may linger on a little into October, and a few may even not migrate and may remain in New Jersey year-round.
Those seen in the state in winter will typically have been too old, infirm, or too injured to fly south, and so may have been forced to remain. Some other hummingbirds may get lost and stray from the usual migration patterns.
When Should I Take Down Hummingbird Feeders in New Hampshire?
Experts tell us that we should try to leave a hummingbird feeder in place a couple of weeks after they were last used. Since, in New Hampshire, most of the birds will have departed by the beginning of October, you should usually be able, if you wish, to remove your feeders around the middle of the month.
However, it is important to note that not all individuals successfully make the southward migration. Some individuals may remain in the state over the winter months, or turn up here in winter if everything has not gone as it should.
So you will be doing these individual hummingbirds a favor if you leave feeders in place throughout the year and don’t just cater to those hummingbirds that undertake the yearly migrations as is the norm for the species you are likely to encounter.
Once you know when hummingbirds arrive and leave and have taken steps to welcome these amazing birds to your garden, you should be able to enjoy their company and look forward to their arrival year after year.