When Do Hummingbirds Arrive In & Leave North Carolina?

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Birders across North Carolina eagerly wait to see hummingbirds every spring and summer. These tiny birds are known for their beautiful plumage and amazing aerial maneuvers. When do they arrive in the state, and when do they leave? Keep reading to find out approximately when you will be graced with these beautiful birds’ arrival and how to make their stay in North Carolina comfortable.

When Do Hummingbirds Arrive in North Carolina?

As any birdwatcher knows, the arrival of hummingbirds signals the start of spring. These tiny birds are among the first to return from their winter migration, and their zippy flight and bright plumage are a welcome sight after a long winter.

While the first hummingbirds typically arrive in North Carolina during the month of April, there is always a chance that you could see one earlier or later than that. Early arrivals are usually males who come to establish their territories before the females arrive. Late arrivals may be young birds hatched last year who are new to migration and do not have a set destination in mind.

Males arrive first in North Carolina to establish their breeding territories before the females and juveniles land. Once the males have established their territories, they will start to build nests and mate with females.

While the females and juveniles migrate, the males stay in their territories and defend themselves from other males. Once the breeding season is over, the males will migrate south first, followed by the females and juveniles.

When Do Hummingbirds Arrive & Leave North Carolina

When Should I Put Out My Hummingbird Feeder in North Carolina?

If you’re hoping to attract hummingbirds to your yard, the best time to put out your feeder is early April. By putting your feeder out early, you will give the birds a chance to find it and start using it as a food source.

If you’re lucky, one may pick your garden as its home for the summer, and you can watch their exciting life cycle unfold through the season.

How Do Hummingbirds Migrate to North Carolina?

Hummingbirds typically migrate to North Carolina from Central and South America. Individuals complete this long journey at different speeds.

Some stronger males will fly direct to N.C over the Gulf of Mexico, flying non-stop to arrive just 1-2 days after leaving.

Others take the shoreline route through Texas, often stopping to recharge at backyard feeders. This journey can take up to a month.

These variances in migration patterns mean that hummingbirds arrive in and leave North Carolina in increments rather than all at once, making timing their arrival difficult!

When Do Hummingbirds Leave North Carolina?

As the weather cools in North Carolina, hummingbirds will start to migrate back to their winter homes. Beginning in October, the first ones to leave are the breeding males, followed by females and non-breeding males. Lastly, the new season birds will finally go and may linger as long as December.

When Should I Take Down My Hummingbird Feeder in North Carolina?

There is no specific time to put away your hummingbird feeder; instead, keep it out until two weeks after you spot your last hummingbird.

This ensures that birds slowly migrating south from states above North Carolina (Like Virginia and Pennsylvania) will have a place to stop and recharge on their journey.

Do Hummingbirds Stay in North Carolina Over Winter?

The North Carolina Bird Club does not characterize any hummingbird species as “resident,” meaning none regularly stay in the state through the winter.

In saying this, it’s not entirely uncommon to see Ruby-throated hummingbirds over the winter. Some individuals may not complete migration, wintering in North Carolina.

Contrary to popular belief, these birds don’t skip migration to stay near backyard feeders. Instead, these birds are usually too old or ill to complete a migration.

If you see a hummingbird around your yard over the fall and winter in North Carolina, provide it with ongoing nectar. Your feeding won’t keep it from migrating but may save its life!

Creating a Hummingbird Garden in North Carolina

You can easily attract hummingbirds to your North Carolina garden with a few simple steps. First, choose plants that provide nectar for the birds. Good choices include bee balm, Cardinal flower, and Trumpet creeper.

You should also include some native plants in your garden, as they will provide a natural source of food and shelter for the hummingbirds.

In addition, avoid using pesticides or herbicides in your garden, as these chemicals can be harmful to the birds.

Once you have chosen the right plants, make sure to keep them well-watered and free from debris. You can create a garden that provides a safe haven for hummingbirds by following these simple tips.

Where is The Best Place to See Hummingbirds in North Carolina?

If your backyard hasn’t been blessed with a hummingbird population for the summer, or you are a visitor to this great state, then good news: you can still find some hummingbirds to observe!

There are several great places to see hummingbirds in North Carolina, including the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, the Pisgah National Forest, and the Appalachian Trail.

Each of these locations provides a safe haven for these migrating birds, and you can often find them stopping to rest and feed.

Final Thoughts

There you have it: everything you need to know about when hummingbirds arrive and leave North Carolina.

By providing a safe haven for these migrating birds, you can help them on their journey and positively impact the environment.

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Sophie Herlihy

After an early start in the veterinary industry and as a conservation educator at Disney’s Animal Kingdom in Florida, Sophie has since been a successful Zookeeper and Conservationist, specializing in native New Zealand species. When she isn't bird watching in native forests or crawling through the underbrush at midnight searching for rare frog species, she can be found with her husband on their sheep and beef station, far from civilization.