Is there anything better than spotting a tiny hummingbird flitting from flower to flower, gathering nectar? These tiny birds are popular all over the country because of their small size, bright colors, and fascinating habits.
Unfortunately, bird watchers and gardeners in Oklahoma can enjoy hummingbirds for only a few months out of the year!
That makes it especially important to prepare for hummingbird season by knowing when it starts, when it ends, and how to make your garden more inviting to Oklahoma’s hummingbird population.
Hummingbirds begin arriving in Oklahoma in the middle of March. They continue to come through in early April. After the spring and summer, hummingbirds begin to leave Oklahoma as early as September. The majority of hummingbirds will be gone by the middle of October.
To make the most of hummingbird season, prepare your garden and landscaping to make it more welcoming!
When Will Hummingbirds Arrive in Oklahoma?
Ruby-throated and Black-Chinned hummingbirds are the two species you will find in Oklahoma. Both varieties arrive by mid-April, males first. They have traveled from their winter habitats in Mexico and Central America and are ready to find mates, reproduce, and raise their young in the warm Oklahoma spring and summer.
Do They Always Arrive at the Same Time?
Hummingbird migration patterns are consistent but not exact. There will be minor variations in when hummingbirds decide to migrate to Oklahoma.
These variations are typically caused by unpredictable weather patterns. Although hummingbirds can fly in the rain, they are less likely to migrate through a tropical storm during what would usually have been their departure period.
Changes in insect behavior can also cause hummingbirds to change their migratory patterns. That is because they are dependent on insects for a significant part of their diet. Anything that affects large numbers of insects can also affect hummingbird behavior.
Do Hummingbirds Visit the Whole State of Oklahoma?
Because Oklahoma is a big state, there are some differences from region to region. For example, southern Oklahoma will start seeing hummingbirds first, as they are traveling from the south. A Ruby-throated hummingbird flies about 20 miles per day. Oklahoma is over 200 miles from north to south and nearly 500 miles east to west. That means it takes several days for these small birds to travel across the state.
Do Male or Female Hummingbirds Arrive First?
Wherever hummingbirds migrate, the males almost always arrive first.
You will probably notice the distinct coloration of male hummingbirds before females because males can arrive up to a few weeks in advance of their potential mates.
Upon arrival, female hummingbirds will build their nests and find a mate to lay fertilized eggs, nurture hatchlings, and raise their young.
How Many Hummingbird Species are in Oklahoma?
Although there are fifteen different species of hummingbirds that make their home in the US, there are only two species that are native to Oklahoma during hummingbird season: Ruby-throated and Black-chinned.
Ruby-throated hummingbirds are the most common in Oklahoma. Males are recognized by their ruby-colored throat, the white collar around their neck, forked tail, and green backs. On the other hand, females have shimmering green backs and tail feathers with bands in black, white, and grey-green.
Outside of the migration period when they are on the move, Black-Chinned hummingbirds are only spotted in the far western part of Oklahoma. These hummingbirds are much more subdued in color. They do have a thin, iridescent purple stripe that runs along the border of their black chins, but it is only visible in certain lighting.
Rufous hummingbirds and Broad-tailed hummingbirds are a rare sight in Oklahoma, although they have been spotted occasionally.
How to Attract Hummingbirds to Your Oklahoma Yard
One of the best ways to enjoy hummingbirds is to attract them to your yard!
When you make your gardens and landscaping appealing to hummingbirds, you get to enjoy these birds all season.
What Kind of Plants to Grow to Attract Hummingbirds
Hummingbirds are excellent pollinators. They play an essential role in pollinating the plants we treasure throughout Oklahoma!
To attract Ruby-throated hummingbirds, grow pollinator-friendly plants, such as those with colorful and tubular blooms. Tubular-shaped blooms hold lots of nectar, which makes them appealing to Oklahoma’s hummingbirds.
You can grow these plants in Oklahoma to attract hummingbirds: columbines, foxgloves, daylilies, lupines, hollyhocks, cleomes, petunias, bee balms, and impatiens. These will look lovely in your garden or landscaping, and they will catch the eye of traveling hummingbirds!
Attracting Insects to Your Hummingbird Garden
Even though most people don’t like the idea of attracting insects to their garden, it is actually the perfect plan if you want to attract hummingbirds, too!
Hummingbirds eat small bugs throughout their lifespan. Baby hummingbirds, juveniles, and adults all eat insects, which give them fat, protein, and salts that nectar just can’t provide. Hatchlings, in particular, need to feast on large amounts of insects to grow healthy and strong.
Create an insect-friendly garden by avoiding the use of chemical fertilizers, pesticides, and weed-killers that can kill insects and threaten hummingbirds.
Hummingbird Feeders: A Good or Bad Idea?
Even though the best way to attract hummingbirds to your garden is to plant plenty of nectar-producing and insect-attracting plants, you may still want to incorporate a hummingbird feeder in your landscaping.
Hummingbird feeders provide supplemental nutrition to traveling hummingbirds, especially after they migrate.
One important thing to consider is what you put in your hummingbird feeder. Many people use sugar water colored with red dye, but many hummingbird experts have expressed concerns about the safety of these dyes. Sugar water doesn’t need to be red to attract hummingbirds, so many experts recommend skipping the dye.
Providing hummingbirds with sugar water helps them recover from the exertion of migration and survive periods when plants and insects are less plentiful.
When Should People Put Out Their Hummingbird Feeders in Oklahoma?
The Audobon Society recommends that Oklahoma birdwatchers put their hummingbird feeders up in mid-April, although they can put them out earlier if they spot a hummingbird.
You can also make your yard more hummingbird-friendly by introducing potted flowers and water sources when you put out your feeders.
When Do Hummingbirds Leave Oklahoma?
Male hummingbirds will leave first, usually in early fall. Their departure is typically complete by September, whereas females and juveniles begin departing a bit later. They are gone by the middle of October.
Of course, slight variations in migratory behavior may change this window a little bit. Some hummingbirds will continue to stick around until later in the season.
When Is The Best Time to Put Away Your Hummingbird Feeders?
Because each hummingbird is an individual, there can be some differences between their departures from the state. You don’t want to take down your hummingbird feeders when the birds are still around!
Oklahoma hummingbirds can stick around as late as the end of October, especially if they start migrating from the northern or western parts of the state. Keeping your hummingbird feeder maintained and filled until the end of October is wise if you want to support late-migrating hummingbirds.