Wyoming gets to witness some of the most extraordinary bird migrations on the planet. Rufous hummingbirds come through Wyoming on their four thousand mile journey between Alaska and Mexico. It’s even more incredible when you realize these tiny jewels are just three inches long!
But it’s not just the migrating hummingbirds that come through Wyoming–lucky residents of this state get to see three different species of breeding hummingbirds, thanks to the high elevations these birds prefer for raising their young.
When does all the excitement begin? Let’s find out more about when the hummingbirds arrive in Wyoming!
When Will the Hummingbirds Arrive in Wyoming?
Hummingbirds migrating north to Wyoming are on a journey of thousands of miles, all the way from Mexico. Hummingbirds begin arriving in Wyoming in mid-April and continue arriving throughout the month of May.
Hummingbirds that are just passing through will continue on their way and depart for parts further north and west by late June, but breeding hummingbirds will stay in Wyoming to nest and raise their young.
Do the Hummingbirds Arrive in Wyoming All at Once or Gradually?
Hummingbirds migrate individually rather than in flocks. A few migrate earlier, and then the number builds until all the birds have arrived.
Male hummingbirds begin their journey before the females. They will stake out territories around good food sources, like nectar feeders and favorite flowers. Then the females arrive about a week after the males to mate and nest.
Broad-tailed hummingbirds arrive in Wyoming a little later than other species of hummingbirds, coming in late May.
Does the Weather Affect the Arrival of the Hummingbirds?
Earlier snowmelt due to climate change has sped up the bloom of the Glacier Lily, one of the plants the Broad-tailed hummingbird relies on. It now blooms 13 days before the arrival of the first Broad-tailed hummingbirds, which can cause them to struggle to find food when they arrive.
Do the Hummingbirds Arrive in Different Parts of Wyoming at Different Times?
Black-chinned hummingbirds will come to the southwestern portion of Wyoming to breed during the summer. They prefer areas with lots of water but are quite adaptable and can be found in many habitats.
The Calliope hummingbird migrates through western and central Wyoming and breeds mainly in northwestern Wyoming. They prefer high elevations and colder temperatures.
Broad-tailed hummingbirds are late arrivals to Wyoming, arriving in late May. These birds prefer high elevations for breeding, although they will feed in valleys. They will migrate through most of Wyoming, but breed in western and central Wyoming, at elevations between 5,000 and 10,500 feet.
Rufous hummingbirds are only passing through Wyoming, rather than staying to breed. You’ll most likely see them during their southern migration as they swing through the western half of Wyoming in mid-summer.
When Do the Hummingbirds Leave Wyoming?
Hummingbirds migrating north through Wyoming leave by the end of June.
Hummingbirds heading south for the winter start to leave Wyoming at the beginning of August. They’ll typically all be gone by the end of September, although you may see occasional stragglers.
When Should I Put Out Hummingbird Feeders in Wyoming?
In Wyoming, you should put out your hummingbird feeders at the start of April, or about 1-2 weeks before you expect the first hummingbirds to arrive.
You can also take a cue from nature–if you notice early spring blooms and spans of warmer weather, it’s a good idea to get those feeders out. The early-arriving male hummingbirds will be looking for food sources.
When Should I Take Hummingbird Feeders Down in Wyoming?
Take down your hummingbird feeders in Wyoming in mid-October, or two weeks after you last see a hummingbird use your feeders.
Hummingbirds migrate individually, so having your feeders out late can help the birds running a bit behind.
You don’t have to worry that leaving the feeders out will prevent hummingbirds from migrating when they need to. Each hummingbird travels on its own schedule, triggered by the days getting shorter. When you see them hanging around your feeder late in the season, they’re just fueling up to fly home.
Which Wyoming Flowers Attract Hummingbirds?
Hummingbirds, of course, are coming north looking for a buffet of beautiful blooms! To give them food and habitat in your yard, consider planting some of their favorites. These are also Wyoming natives, so they’ll do well in your garden and help out your local ecosystem!
- Mountain Gooseberry (Ribes montigenum)
- Red Elderberry (Sambucus racemosa)
- Glacier Lily (Erythronium grandiflorum)
- Scarlet Gilia (Ipomopsis aggregata)
- Hummingbird Trumpet (Epilobium canum sub. garrettii)
- Fireweed (Chamerion angustifolium)
- Nuttall’s Larkspur (Delphinium nuttallianum)
- Showy Milkweed (Asclepias speciosa)
- Canadian Milkvetch (Astragalus canadensis)
- Wyoming Paintbrush (Castilleja linariifolia)
Bring On the Hummingbirds!
Mark your calendars because the hummingbirds are coming to Wyoming in mid-April! Enjoy their showy feathers and incredible flight skills through the summer months. Then bid them bon voyage because the hummingbirds are heading back to their warm winter homes starting in September, and they’ll be gone by early October.