Wisconsin’s varied terrain and vegetation between the Great Lakes and the Mississippi River offer many amazing birdwatching opportunities. Hummingbirds spotted during spring day trips, on autumnal hikes, or in your garden are just one natural encounter to look forward to.
Ruby-throated hummingbirds arrive in Wisconsin at the end of April but will typically be spotted in larger numbers from mid-May. Typically, these birds will remain in Wisconsin for the breeding season over the summer before departing in September or October.
Learning when hummingbirds arrive in and leave Wisconsin can help you prepare for and aid these birds. Understanding their habits will give you a greater chance of seeing these amazing birds up close. So read on to learn more about hummingbirds in the dairy state.
What Hummingbirds are Seen in Wisconsin?
The hummingbird you are most likely to see in Wisconsin is the Ruby-throated hummingbird. This is by far the most commonly sighted hummingbird in this state and the only hummingbird that may reside, breed and nest in the state over the summer months.
However, there are also several other hummingbird species occasionally seen in Wisconsin. Rufous hummingbirds, Allen’s hummingbirds, Anna’s hummingbirds, Green-breasted mangos, Broad-billed hummingbirds, Mexican violetears, and even the near-endangered Buff-bellied hummingbird have all been spotted very rarely as vagrants in the state.
When Do Hummingbirds Arrive in Wisconsin?
Hummingbirds typically arrive in Wisconsin starting in late April, though the bulk of the arrivals will occur around mid-May.
Bear in mind that the hummingbirds do not travel together during their migration and will not all arrive at the same time. They migrate independently, and the timing of their migration will depend on their gender and a range of other factors.
Male hummingbirds are typically the first to arrive. When they reach Wisconsin, they will take a week or so to establish their territory before the females arrive, and the breeding season begins in June.
The weather and conditions can slightly influence the migration of hummingbirds. However, you can generally expect hummingbirds to arrive around the same time each year.
This will be a little earlier in the south of the state and just a little later further north. Since, during the spring migration, these birds move northwards from the south, traveling from their wintering grounds which are typically around the Gulf of Mexico or in Central America.
Preparing for the Arrival of Hummingbirds in Wisconsin
Hummingbirds that reach Wisconsin during the spring migration have expended huge effort to get here. They have traveled a very long way and deserve to receive a warm welcome when they arrive.
Understanding when hummingbirds arrive in Wisconsin won’t just help you understand when you might be able to see these amazing birds. It can also help you to know how to care for them and give them the best possible welcome when they arrive.
How to Attract Hummingbirds to a Wisconsin Garden
Creating a hummingbird-friendly Wisconsin garden is all about making sure that you provide a safe environment and one that provides hummingbirds with everything they need.
Providing a meal for hummingbirds is not just about filling feeders. It is also about creating a garden filled with natural food sources for these birds. Hummingbirds need nectar, of course, from flowering plants. But they also need a garden filled with insects that they can eat.
The best way to create the right planting scheme for hummingbirds in your garden is to embrace native planting. Choosing native plants is the best policy for you and the wildlife (hummingbirds included) sharing your space.
Some great native plants to include in a hummingbird-friendly garden in Wisconsin are:
- Blazing star
- Canadian milkvetch
- Cardinal flower
- Fire pink
- Late figwort
- Michigan lily
- Royal catchfly
- Solomon’s seal
- Wild bergamot
Of course, this is just a small selection. Create diversity and layers by planting plants with richly functioning ecology, to keep hummingbirds happy and to attract a wide range of other wildlife to your garden.
Remember to include native trees, shrubs, vines, and herbaceous plants in varied planting schemes. This should help you provide hummingbirds with appropriate habitat as well as just something to eat.
Consider creating a food forest, rain gardens, and other replacements for a boring lawn, and hummingbirds and many other creatures will benefit. And you will win, too.
When Should I Put Out Hummingbird Feeders in Wisconsin?
Hummingbird feeders are not the be-all and end-all. You should certainly think about other elements to provide a meal for hummingbirds and give them all they need. But once you have given some thought to your planting and garden design, placing feeders can also be a great thing to do.
In Wisconsin, you might leave feeders in place year-round to cater to vagrant birds and those which cannot migrate.
However, you should place feeders a couple of weeks before you expect migrating Ruby-throated hummingbirds to arrive – which is in mid-April in Wisconsin.
When Do Hummingbirds Leave Wisconsin?
Hummingbirds that have bred and nested in Wisconsin will typically begin to depart in September, though some males may even have left a little earlier. They may not wait around for long after their young have fledged, and will often leave the females and young to make their way south quite early.
The females and young may depart Wisconsin in September, but some will linger a little longer before they make their migration. However, most migrating hummingbirds will have left the state by mid-October.
While most hummingbirds will not remain in Wisconsin over winter, there may well be a few individuals unable to make the trip due to age or injury. Other hummingbirds may occasionally also be glimpsed as stragglers during the fall migration period or during the winter months.
When Should I Take Down Hummingbird Feeders in Wisconsin?
Typically, Wisconsin gardeners should leave their hummingbird feeders in place until they have no longer seen any hummingbirds using them for a couple of weeks. If a hummingbird feeder is still in use, the kind thing to do is leave it up.
Some people worry that leaving hummingbird feeders in place prevents birds from naturally migrating as they should. Birds that don’t migrate won’t fail to do so because food is available. So those that remain are there accidentally or cannot travel as they should. If you see hummingbirds, you should keep feeding them, regardless of the time of year.
Now that you know a little more about the migrations of Ruby-throated hummingbirds to and from Wisconsin, you will be better prepared and able to do all you can for these stunning specimens when they are visiting your state.