From the rugged mountain peaks to the low plateaus and the banks of the Mississippi, Tennessee is a varied state with an exciting range of plants and animal life to see. Of the many bird species found here, hummingbirds are perhaps one of the most remarkable.
Some Ruby-throated hummingbirds and Rufous hummingbirds will remain in Tennessee year-round. But numbers are higher during spring (from early March to May) and fall (late summer to late October) when their numbers are boosted by those traveling through the state on migration from the south or the north. Occasionally, other hummingbirds may also be glimpsed in Tennessee during these times.
In this guide, we’ll help you understand the habits of hummingbirds in this state. You’ll learn more about when they arrive in and leave Tennessee and a little about how to welcome and care for the hummingbirds when they come. So read on to learn the basics about what to expect regarding hummingbirds in the volunteer state.
What Hummingbirds are Seen in Tennessee?
Ruby-throated hummingbirds and Rufous hummingbirds are the species most commonly seen in Tennessee. Some migrate through the state during the spring and fall hummingbird migrations. Others remain in the state year-round.
Other hummingbirds are also occasionally seen in Tennessee, though they are much rarer. However, you may encounter Allen’s hummingbirds, Anna’s hummingbirds, Black-chinned hummingbirds, Broad-tailed hummingbirds, Calliope hummingbirds, and Green Violetears as vagrants on occasion.
When Do Hummingbirds Arrive in Tennessee?
Some Ruby-throated hummingbirds and Rufous hummingbirds remain in Tennessee all year round. Others, however, will spend their winters further south, in Mexico or Central America.
During the spring migration of hummingbirds, those that wintered in the south will usually arrive in Tennessee from early March. Some will pass on to nesting sites further north, while others may remain in the state over the warm summer months.
The timing of the hummingbird migration can vary a little from year to year. It depends on the weather conditions and food availability in a given year. However, you can expect migrating hummingbirds to arrive around the same time annually.
The males will be the first to arrive during the spring migration of hummingbirds. The females will follow them a week or two later once they have established their territories.
In September and October, you may also encounter other hummingbirds passing through and heading south during the fall migration.
Preparing for the Arrival of Hummingbirds in Tennessee
Getting ready for the arrival of hummingbirds in Tennessee means doing all you can to make these birds welcome on your property.
Whether they are year-round residents or just passing through, hummingbirds will appreciate it if you turn your garden into a hummingbird haven, with a meal for them and the kind of habitat they like.
How to Attract Hummingbirds to a Tennessee Garden
Migrating hummingbirds need plenty of nectar, which you should provide through native flowering plants and feeders. They also need insects to eat, so you should plant to make sure there are plenty of insects and other wildlife in your garden.
Birds that remain in Tennessee to breed and nest will also need these things. They will also appreciate nesting sites, so place native trees and shrubs. And they will feel at home if you also make sure there is some water in your garden.
Some native plants in Tennessee that are great for a hummingbird-friendly garden include:
- Bee balm
- Blue false indigo
- Coral honeysuckle
- Great blue lobelia
- Red buckeye
- Trumpet creeper
Of course, there are many more native plants to include. The more biodiversity you include in your garden, the better. You should choose the right plants for the right places and combine them to create appropriate and functional ecosystems for your area.
You should also make sure that your garden is free from dangers. So, grow organically, and avoid using any harmful herbicides, pesticides, or synthetic fertilizers. Don’t use netting that might snare birds, and where possible, keep pets like domestic cats indoors.
Over the hot summer months, it is important to help hummingbirds in your garden with a feeder filled with cool nectar and make sure there are plenty of shade areas to help them beat the heat.
Feeders will also help hummingbirds passing through on migration during spring and fall, so be sure to keep your feeders filled during these crucial times.
When Should I Put Out Hummingbird Feeders in Tennessee?
Since some hummingbirds are year-round residents in Tennessee, you could keep your feeders out year-round. However, if this is not possible, you should at least consider placing feeders out in spring and fall during the main migration periods and ideally leaving them in place through summer for those birds that do stay.
Try to put up your feeders in late February, a couple of weeks before the first migrating birds are likely to arrive.
While feeders are great, it is more important to provide appropriate habitat and food sources through natural means via the plants you choose.
When Do Hummingbirds Leave Tennessee?
Those hummingbirds passing through Tennessee on spring migration to reach nesting sites further to the north will typically have left the state by the end of May since the breeding season typically begins around June.
Migrating hummingbirds that have nested in the state will begin to leave for the south as early as July.
Just as they were the first to arrive, the males of the species will be the first to leave Tennessee. They often leave soon after the eggs have hatched, leaving the females to rear the young. The females and their young will then usually go sometime later.
Most hummingbirds that will not overwinter in Tennessee will be gone by the end of October. Some Ruby-throated and Rufous hummingbirds will remain in the state throughout the winter months, including any hummingbirds too old, unwell, or injured to make the trip south.
When Should I Take Down Hummingbird Feeders in Tennessee?
As mentioned above, it may be beneficial to leave hummingbird feeders in place year-round in Tennessee if you can do so. This will mean that you cater to the year-round residents as well as the migrating hummingbirds that visit your garden.
Always aim to keep feeders up for at least two weeks after a hummingbird last visited them. In Tennessee, you may not always find that they are used year-round. So leave them up until mid-November at least, even if you do not have hummingbirds in your garden over winter.
Taking care of the hummingbirds in your Tennessee garden is a great way to protect hummingbirds, and will give you the opportunity to see and enjoy these amazing birds up close, often over many years.