Welcome migrating hummingbirds

Though hummingbirds have been seen in recent weeks by some hummingbird enthusiasts, most of us are still waiting for our first hummer of the year. Let’s go over what the folks who study hummingbirds say about what is important for welcoming the migrating hummers, both those that will nest in your area and those that are just stopping-over on their way to their nesting areas.

  • While many think that a hummingbird feeder is the most important thing for attracting these migrating hummers, those who study them point out that hummers generally use feeders to supplement their diet.  As noted in ‘Attracting Hummingbirds’ , an online publication by Cornell Lab of Ornithology, hummers get “most of their nourishment” from insects and flowers.
  • Though you may attract migrating hummingbirds with just hummingbird feeders (likely because there are flowers and plants in the area that provide for their needs) you can increase you chances of drawing hummers to your feeders, and keeping them longer, by providing nectar flowers.
  • It can be challenging to provide these nectar flowers, especially early in the growing season, so purchasing some hanging plants with nectar flowers from your local nursery will do the trick (I learned this an excellent article on BirdsAndBloom.com by wildlife photographer Steve Byland).
  • Hummingbirds need to eat insects, especially small spiders, to meet their protein needs so avoid pesticide use if you want to improve your chances of hummingbirds coming to your yard.    The short video clip below demonstrates how hummingbirds even catch small insects in the air:

Video footage courtesy of JCM Digital Imaging HTTP://JCMDI.COM


  • Hummingbirds like trees and shrubs that provide perches for them (also shown in video clip) so they can rest, groom, watch for insects to go after, check out the flowers they may want to sample, and often so they can guard your feeder so other hummers can be chased away.
  • Most of us like to have one or more hummingbird feeders that can be hung where we can get a clear view of the hummers.  The  hummingbird experts agree on feeding basics:  “4 parts water to 1 part sugar. The water should not be distilled. The sugar should be white table sugar, not turbinado sugar, brown sugar, or other forms. Use no artificial colors (red dye does NOT help attract hummingbirds) or other additives. Never use honey or artificial sweeteners, for to do so may kill the birds. ”  (from the Hummingbird Society which has an excellent web page, ‘Feeder’, that has a lot of good information about feeding hummers)
  • Hummers need water to keep feathers clean.  They prefer “water that is shallow and moving”  but also enjoy showers so fountains and misters work–then sit back and watch them put on a show.
  1. Esther Blondo says

    Thanks for sharing that beautiful hummingbird video. I wonder if the hummingbirds here in NC would trust my hand to feed them like the hands in AL. We’ll see!

  2. says

    I live in Cordova, TN and the first hummer of the season came in Sat. I already had 2 feeders up as the yellow finches and the house finches like to drink the sugar water also.

    • says

      Laura-it is nice to hear you had you feeder up when your first hummer came in over the week-end. Yes, those finches do have ‘sweet tongue” (as do a number of bird species who are delighted to take advantage of some nectar)

  3. Connie Walker says

    I live in Strafford, MO & saw the first hummingbird Sunday after church. I had just hung my feeder when it flew in like it had been waiting!!

  4. says

    We have had such a strange spring here in western Indiana, making it difficult to guess when these wondrous birds will make their appearance. My frontyard butterfly bushes are just now flourishing and they are my hummingbird sanctuary. They are in front of our huge picture window, giving us a panoramic view of their feeding habits. I so appreciate the facts and tips your website offers about these tiny summer visitors!

  5. Jerry Hoben says


    • says

      Hi Jerry–I noticed on the map I did at the end of March that a few hummers were being seen in your area (2 Black-chinned at the south end of the Las Cruces dam and 1 Broad-tailed on the far ne side of town) so sounds like they found your feeder(s) also.

      As I noted in my Spring Hummingbird Migration Update in March, areas where there has been a significant drought may have few blossoms for the hummers to get their nourishment. This may be why you are finding more than in previous years–thanks for helping them out.

  6. Nancy says

    Hummers are HERE (north FL south GA area) !!! I am wondering if they are ‘travellers’ headed north of if they will stay!!

  7. Debbie Carpenter says

    We enjoy hummers year round. Even when we has snow falling, they were at the feeders!! This is our 5th year to have them all year.

  8. Faith says

    We’re so fortunate here in Portland, OR because the hummingbirds come all winter. Even when we had snow this winter they came. Sometimes their water would be frozen, so I’d have to bring it in and thaw it out. Two of them come so much now that the liquid is gone in about 4 or 5 days. Maybe I put too much sugar in. :) They sure come and give us lots of enjoyment.

  9. says

    Hi Faith–you folks on the west coast as well as southern states are fortunate to have hummers year-round. I am anxiously awaiting their return to my area of Colorado. I purchased a hanging plant with red pansies just as I recommended.

    • Holly says

      Noticed your post. We live in the foothills north of boulder and ihave not noticed any yet. The last two years they came around tax day. Expected them early because of the mild spring. Really looking forwardvto their visits.

  10. Mary Navalaney says

    Looking for the hummers here in Delaware, so far nothing but dad (92) and I are betting when they will get here. temp is low 80s have several feeders out. plenty of finches. can’t wait for them to get here as they fly through the porch from one feeder to the next. Dad gets a kick out of it.

  11. Mary Navalaney says

    My sister in law just called. She is just north of us in Frederica, Delaware and she just saw her first humming bird. She is only 10 miles north of us, we are in Argos corner,milford,Delaware

  12. Gisele Harney says

    A ruby throat hummingbird has arrived at my feeder may 6 2012 . I live in North Bay Ontario Canada
    This is the earliest I have seen them

  13. Ieva Kegler says

    The Ruby-Throat arrived in our area on May 5, 2012 (Warrens, WI). Last year and the year before they arrived on May 6. They seem to announce their arrival by dive bombing my husband so he can announce to me that they have arrived and get the food out. The one problem I have on my feeders is ants even though they are 16 feet off the ground under my eaves. One year we put vegetable oil on the top of the cap. It works for a while until the rain washes it away. Another year we sprayed Pam on the cap which worked but it just got all goopy and was difficult to clean off. I heard that double sided tape on the cap works. I will try that this year but if you or anyone else has a better idea please respond. Last year I went through 110 pounds of sugar. Changing feeders twice a day with three large feeders. We call them the birds with the sugar buzz.

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