When and Why Do Hummingbirds Leave Their Natal Habitat?

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When hummingbirds leave your area will very much depend on where you live and which hummingbirds are likely to be seen in your state.

Migratory species will typically move south for winter. But it is important to note that some hummingbirds may remain in your state year-round.

Understanding when hummingbirds can be expected in your area can help you understand how best to help these beautiful birds by placing hummingbird feeders and having flowers bloom at the right times in your garden.

When Are Hummingbirds Found in the Eastern US?

Over most of the eastern two-thirds of North America, as far north as Central Canada, the key hummingbird species you will encounter is the ruby-throated hummingbird.

This species moves northwards across this region from its overwintering grounds in Mexico and Costa Rica in spring, reaching the most southern states in early March.

They then migrate northwards to arrive in more northern US states and southern Canadian provinces in late April or early May. This is mainly around the breeding season when they’re looking for breeding grounds. 

Migrants moving to more northerly breeding and nesting locations may pass through and move on – leaving an area by May at the latest. 

But those breeding and nesting in your area will remain over the summer months before departing in the late summer or fall. Warm weather is ideal for this common species. 

The males of this species, who are usually the first to arrive, coming a couple of weeks before the females, will also be the first to leave on the southward migration. 

The males have lots of energy and can survive with little food availability and colder temperatures as they seek hot weather where the females can breed. 

They leave the females to raise their young. Females and young will depart a little later than the males. But all migrating hummingbirds will usually be gone from eastern states by the end of October at the latest.

However, even though most ruby-throated hummingbirds are migratory, there can often be a few individuals too old, injured, or sick to make the trip.

So even after most hummingbirds have left, you may occasionally still see an individual hummingbird in your garden. 

It is also important to note that guidelines for migration times can be only that – guidelines. The precise timings will depend on the conditions in a given year and several other environmental factors.

When Are Hummingbirds Around in the South East?

The Southeastern corner of the United States is different in climate and ecology from the rest of the east.

Along the southeastern coastline, from Cape Hatteras southwards, in Florida, and around the Gulf Coast, hummingbirds are typically present all year round.

In fact, while in most of the US, you are more likely to see hummingbirds in the warmer seasons, in this region, you are actually likely to see more hummingbirds, and a greater number of hummingbird species, in the winter months.

This means it is important to provide for hummingbirds in your garden and leave out feeders for longer – potentially all year round.

When Are Hummingbirds Seen in the Mountains of the West?

In the mountains of the west, black-chinned hummingbirds, rufous hummingbirds, and calliope hummingbirds frequently arrive in spring between early March and mid-May.

These birds frequently spend the summer in the mountains, breeding, and nesting, perhaps as far north as southeastern Alaska.  This is because the area has cooler weather. 

They then leave sometime between July-August (in the far north) and September/October (further south) to head back to their wintering grounds in the southern US or Mexico.

When Are Hummingbirds on the Southwest and West Coast?

Certain hummingbird species are present year-round in the southwest and the west of British Columbia.

In southern Arizona, New Mexico, and Texas, you can see a number of hummingbird species typically not seen often, if at all, elsewhere in the US, such as the blue-throated hummingbird, broad-billed hummingbird, Rivoli’s hummingbird, and white-eared hummingbird. And even rarer species can sometimes make an appearance.

Rufous hummingbirds migrate northwards up along the west coast and can be seen from February onwards before they depart to head back southwards in the late summer or fall.

But along the western coastal regions, there are also hummingbirds that are not migratory, which can be seen year-round in hummingbird-friendly gardens.

Anna’s hummingbird is a common sight in the north, while Allen’s hummingbirds can be seen further to the south.

When Do Hummingbirds Leave Your State?

When Do Hummingbirds Leave

Hummingbirds that migrate will typically leave a given area around the same time – but not at precisely the same time each year.

Males will typically leave first, followed later by the females and young.

Weather conditions and other environmental factors mean that migrations are not always at the same time each year.

It is also important to remember that even when most individuals migrate, there may often still be some individuals who cannot make the migration and so remain year-round.

However, to give you a rough idea of when you might expect hummingbirds to leave your state, here are the typical months of departure (if hummingbirds are not present year-round):

StateMonth(s) of Hummingbird Departure
AlabamaLate August – mid-October
AlaskaJuly-August
ArizonaSome present year-round.
ArkansasMid-August – Late October
CaliforniaSome present year-round.
ColoradoLate August – November
ConnecticutSeptember- early October
DelawareSeptember- October
FloridaSome present year-round.
GeorgiaSome present year-round, and some depart September-mid-October.
HawaiiNone present.
IdahoSome present year-round migrants depart by mid-October.
IllinoisAugust- September
IndianaAugust- October
IowaAugust- September
KansasJuly- mid-October
KentuckyAugust-October
LouisianaSome present year-round.
MaineAugust- October
MarylandSeptember-October
MassachusettsAugust- October
MichiganAugust- October
MinnesotaAugust – Early September
MississippiTypically by November, some are present year-round in the state’s south.
MissouriMid-August- October
MontanaSeptember- October
NebraskaMid-September – early October
NevadaSome present year-round.
New HampshireSeptember – early October
New JerseySeptember- October
New MexicoSome present year-round.
New YorkSeptember- October
North CarolinaOctober – December
North DakotaMid-August – October
OhioSeptember-October
OklahomaSeptember-October
OregonSome present year-round, and some depart June-September.
PennsylvaniaSeptember-October
Rhode IslandAugust- October
South CarolinaAugust-October
South DakotaSeptember-October
TennesseeSome present year-round.
TexasSome present year-round.
UtahAugust-October
VermontAugust-October
VirginiaSome depart September-October and some present year-round.
WashingtonAugust – September
West VirginiaVaries – June – January.
WisconsinSeptember – October
WyomingAugust – early October

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Jacob Swanson

Jacob Swanson is a writer and wildlife photographer born and raised in Wisconsin and currently based in Michigan's Upper Peninsula. Since graduating from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, his work has appeared in over a dozen different web and print outlets. In his free time, he’s on a personal quest to visit every U.S. national park and see as many wildlife species as possible. His favorite birds are whooping and sandhill cranes.