Delaware Hummingbirds Migration: 6 Remarkable Jewels

Nine common questions about the migration of Delaware hummingbirds are discussed in this article.

There Are Six Hummingbirds Documented As Delaware Hummingbirds.

There are six hummingbirds documented as Delaware hummingbirds and one additional hummingbird identified as a Delaware hummingbird but not documented as seen in Delaware.

Delaware hummingbirds are listed in the order of frequency seen:

Hummingbirds:Number seen:Documented:% seen:
Ruby-throated19,102Documented98.61%
Rufous126Documented0.65%
Allen’s111Documented0.57%
Calliope19Documented1.10%
Black-chinned12Documented0.06%
Broad-tailed1Documented0.01%
Anna’s0Not Documented1.00%
Total Seen:19,371
These are the Delaware statistics at the end of 2023, as reported by eBird.org.
Click “Documented” link above to see current eBird sighting statistics for Delaware
Male Ruby throated 8 mz13hummingbirds
Male Ruby-throated
Photo by: mz13hummingbirds

When Do Delaware Hummingbirds Arrive?

The earliest arrivals of Delaware hummingbirds are seen in March, and new arrivals continue through June.

Delaware hummingbirds begin their spring migration north from as far away as Panama or as close as Mexico. Delaware hummingbirds arrive in Delaware as early as March, while some late migrators may arrive as late as June.  but by the end of June, all hummingbirds that are migrating further than Delaware are gone from Delaware.

The first migrating hummingbirds will be males, followed by females about a week later. The males arrive first to stake out the territory that they will defend as they try to attract a female.

Ruby-throated hummingbirds are the most commonly seen Delaware hummingbirds and will be the first migrating hummingbirds to be seen in Delaware.

Male Ruby throat 3 OHIO
Male Ruby-Throated Hummingbird
Photo by: Rekha Pawar

Watch for the male’s vividly colored gorget; a week or so later, the females will begin to appear at your feeders.
See my article: How to Identify a Hummingbird’s Gender in 4 Easy Steps

According to the Missouri Department Of Conservation, if Delaware hummingbird enthusiasts start feeding them when they arrive, there is less of a chance they will move on and will decide to spend the summer in Delaware.

The first migrating hummingbirds will be males followed by the females about a week later. The males arrive first to stake out the territory that they will defend as they try to attract a female.

Delaware hummingbirds migrating north from Panama City, Panama need to fly 4,351 miles overland to reach Dover or fly across the Gulf of Mexico, 2,092 miles.
Delaware hummingbirds starting their journey north from Mexico, at the United States’ southernmost border at Brownsville Texas, need to fly 1,568 miles to reach Dover.

Are There Delaware Hummingbirds That Live in the State Year-round?

There are no hummingbird species that live in Delaware year-round.
All hummingbirds seen in the winter in Delaware are documented as rare vagrant sightings.

The general public is unaware of how cold-tolerant hummingbirds actually are.
Some banded hummingbirds have been observed at temperatures as low as -9 degrees Fahrenheit with a wind chill of -36 degrees Fahrenheit, according to eBird.org.

Which Delaware Hummingbirds Breed and Nest in the State?

The Ruby-throated hummingbird is the only hummingbird that breeds and nests in Delaware.

Ruby-throated – The Ruby-throated hummingbird has an extensive breeding area that covers the entire eastern half of the United States and extends into Canada as far west as Alberta.

Female Ruby 1 TN
Female Ruby-throated Hummingbird
Photo by: paulapaintsart
Ruby throated Breeding Map Picture
Ruby-throated Delaware Hummingbirds – Breeding Map

The entire reason for northern migration, much like salmon swimming upstream to their place of birth to lay eggs, is for female hummingbirds to return to the area where they were born to build a nest, mate, and raise a family.

The entire reason for northern migration, much like salmon swimming upstream to their place of birth to lay eggs, is for female hummingbirds to return to the area where they were born to build a nest, mate, and raise a family.

Hummingbird females prefer to build their nests in deciduous trees, 10 to 20 feet above the ground.

It will take her between 5 and 7 days to construct the nest of materials such as plant down, moss, and fine plant fibers, decorated with lichens and held together by spider webs.
See my article: Hummingbird Parents: (Mating to Nesting)
See my article: Baby Hummingbirds: (Egg to Fledgling)

Humm parents Mate to Nest
Female Allen’s on Nest
Photo by: Aaron Gomperts

Each species of male hummingbird has its own unique mating dance ritual of courtship to attract a female. They do perfectly choreographed dives and dance maneuvers to attract a flirty female.
See my article: Hummingbird Dance: 5 Interpretive Explanations

During the mating ritual, there is no penetration since male hummingbirds lack external sexual organs.

The “Cloacal Kiss occurs when the cloacae, (pronounced “kloh-ay-see”), of both hummingbirds are brought together during the brief mating procedure, which lasts only three to five seconds.

After the Cloacal kiss, the female must begin building the nest immediately.
Each brood of hummingbirds typically produces two eggs, laid on consecutive days.

The majority of hummingbirds have two broods annually, although some may have more depending on the timing of their migration and the duration of the days they spend in their breeding areas.

Delaware nesting hummingbirds usually have 2 broods per year but some may have time to work in a third brood.

When Should I Put Up My Feeders for Delaware Hummingbirds?

Delaware hummingbird enthusiasts should put out hummingbird feeders in late March to attract the very earliest arriving migrating hummingbirds.
The majority of Delaware migrating hummingbirds will arrive in May.

According to the Missouri Department Of Conservation, if hummingbird enthusiasts start feeding hummingbirds when they arrive, there is less chance they will move on and will decide to spend the summer in the state.

Approximately one week after the arrival of the male hummingbirds, the females will follow.

Migrating hummingbirds will continue to arrive until about mid-June.
Hummingbirds seen in Delaware after mid-June will be hummingbirds that will spend their entire summer in Delaware.

Make sure to use high-quality nectar solutions in your hummingbird feeders; homemade nectar works best.
See my article: Forget Commercial Hummingbird Food, Try Making Homemade Nectar
See my article: The One Thing You Need to Eliminate From a Hummingbird’s Diet

How Long Do Delaware Hummingbirds Stay in the State?

Delaware hummingbirds stay in the state for at least six months.
They will start arriving as early as March and most will be gone in October.
No hummingbird species live in Delaware year-round.

The general public is unaware of how tolerant hummingbirds actually are.
Some banded hummingbirds have been observed at temperatures as low as -9 degrees Fahrenheit with a wind chill of -36 degrees Fahrenheit, according to eBird.org.

Some migrating seasonal hummingbirds choose to over-winter in Delaware and those too old or injured to migrate will be the only likely hummingbirds Delaware hummingbird enthusiasts will see during the winter.

Some brave migrating seasonal hummingbirds that choose to over-winter in Delaware, and those too old or injured to migrate, will be the only likely hummingbirds Delaware hummingbird enthusiasts will see during the winter.

The most likely migrating hummingbird that might choose to spend the winter in Delaware would be the very cold-tolerant Rufous hummingbird.

In Pennsylvania, a state known for its cold harsh winters, the Valley Forge Audubon Society reports winter sightings of the Allen’s, Calliope, Rufous, and Black-chinned hummingbirds.

Because hummingbirds have such long memories, they will revisit the flowers and feeders they frequented during their spring migration and will remember them when they migrate back to the south in the fall.
See my article: Hummingbird Adaptation and Remarkable Ability to Locate Food

The most common Delaware hummingbird seen during the hot summer months will be the Ruby-throated hummingbird, all others are rare sightings.

Finding strategies to provide your hummingbirds with cool nectar might be crucial when the summer heat becomes unpleasant and tough to handle.
See my article: How to Help Hummingbirds in Hot Weather

When Do Delaware Hummingbirds Leave The State?

Delaware hummingbirds begin leaving the state in early September, and by late October they have migrated to their over-wintering areas in Mexico and Central America.
No hummingbirds live in Delaware year-round.

Most of Delaware’s migrating hummingbirds are gone by the end of October but a few stragglers might stay until the end of the year.

A few older hummingbirds will be the first to start the fall migration, maybe as early as late August, depending on their strength and energy, with the youngest hummingbirds finishing the fall migration by mid-November.

An article from the University of Southern Mississippi states that the hummingbirds that are the oldest will begin their migration earlier than the others.

The circannual (annual internal clock) and circadian (day internal clock) rhythms cause hummingbird migration.

The inclination of a single hummingbird to migrate is triggered by a variety of circumstances, including variations in temperature, time of year, and weather; other causes include a loss in food supplies and a reduction in sunshine due to shortened days.

Similar to the spring migration, male hummingbirds start the fall migration to the south first. As soon as the female hummingbirds have finished rearing their young to the point that they can travel independently, they will set out on their southern fall migration.

When Should I Take Down My Feeders For Delaware Hummingbirds?

The ideal time to remove Delaware hummingbird feeders for the winter is the beginning of October or after a few weeks without any hummingbird sightings.
Feeders are left up all winter by some Delawareans to feed the uncommon winter hummingbirds and those that are too old or injured to migrate.

The dilemma hummingbird enthusiasts struggle with every year is whether to leave the hummingbird feeders up all year or take them down during the winter.

Annas in SNOW 3 Andrea Varju
Male Anna’s hummingbird
Photo by: Andrea Varju

The challenge then becomes preventing the nectar from hummingbirds from freezing.
See my article: 11 DIY Ways To Keep Hummingbird Nectar From Freezing

Investing in a hummingbird feeder warmer, like the Hummer Health feeder heater (Amazon link), is one approach to prevent hummingbird nectar from freezing.
Unfortunately, it is only compatible with a select few types of hummingbird feeders, like the Aspect’s HummZinger feeder (Amazon link).

Some Delaware hummingbird admirers leave hummingbird feeders up all winter long to provide life-nourishing nectar to Delaware’s most likely rare winter visitors, the Allen’s, Calliope, Rufous, and Black-chinned hummingbirds.

The Rufous hummingbird is Delaware’s most likely uncommon winter visitor and will depend on the nectar that some hummingbird fans leave out all winter long.

Most Allen’s, Calliope, Rufous, and Black-chinned hummingbirds will not spend the winter in Delaware and will decide to migrate south for the winter.

Keeping hummingbird feeders up during the winter is a noble gesture that helps other migrating species that are injured or too old to migrate by providing them with nectar.
See my article: 11 DIY Ways to Keep Hummingbird Nectar From Freezing
See my article: Should I Keep My Hummingbird Feeder Out During the Winter?

Hummingbird enthusiasts who leave hummingbird feeders up all winter provide much-welcome nutrition for late migrators and hummingbirds too old or injured to migrate.

The general public is unaware of how tolerant hummingbirds actually are.
Some banded hummingbirds have been observed at temperatures as low as -9 degrees Fahrenheit with a wind chill of -36 degrees Fahrenheit, according to eBird.org.
See my article:  3 Reasons Why Hummingbirds Are Banded

Hummingbirds that depend on these wintertime feeders may die if hummingbird feeders are taken down in the middle of winter during periods of below-freezing temperatures.
See my article: 11 DIY Ways to Keep Hummingbird Nectar From Freezing

How Long Does It Take a Delaware Hummingbird to Migrate?

It takes a Delaware hummingbird 52 hours of flying at its average migrating flight speed of 30mph to fly from Dover to the most distant Mexican border 1,568 miles away.
Hummingbirds migrating to Panama 2,092 miles across the Gulf of Mexico or 4,351 over land, will need to fly 70 hours or 145 hours respectively.

Some fly at a relaxed distance as slow as 1 hour per day, and others fly up to 500 miles non-stop in about 20 hours as some do while migrating across the Gulf of Mexico.

Unlike other migrating birds, hummingbirds do not travel in flocks.
Individual hummingbirds travel according to their own internal clock.

This staggered migration pattern ensures resources are not consumed and depleted all at one time.

Hummingbirds regularly acquire between 25% and 50% of their body weight as migration draws near by eating more nectar from feeders and blooming plants and by collecting more insects in midair for protein.

This rise in body fat provides the hummingbird with energy for its protracted migration flight.

Expect to see an increased volume of southern migrating hummingbird visitors to your feeders in Delaware during this fall migration from August through October.

Hummingbirds that stopped by your feeders in the spring will remember exactly where it is, and they will probably stop by again en route to their overwintering grounds in Mexico and Central America.
See my article: Hummingbird Adaptation and Remarkable Ability to Locate Food

Where Do Delaware Hummingbirds Go in the Winter?

Delaware Allen’s, Anna’s, Black-chinned, Broad-tailed, Calliope, Ruby-throated, and Rufous hummingbirds travel south to over-winter in Mexico, Guatemala, Belize, Honduras, El Salvador, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, and Panama.
Anna’s over-winter in upper Mexico and California.

Allen’s – The Allen’s hummingbird overwinters primarily in Southern California. The Allen’s hummingbirds are seen in some years, during winter months, in scattered areas throughout the USA including Texas, Tennessee, and as far north as Maryland, New York, and Wisconsin.

DSC00745 Male Allens WATERMARK 1
Male Allen’s Hummingbird
Allens Overwintering Map Picture
Delaware Hummingbirds – Allen’s Over-Wintering Map

Anna’s – The Anna’s hummingbird overwinters primarily in Southern California and the upper parts of Baja and Mexico. Anna’s hummingbirds are seen in some years, during winter months, in scattered areas throughout the USA including Texas, Missouri, Illinois (Chicago area), Maryland, Utah, and Idaho.

Male Annas 7
Male Anna’s Hummingbird
Photo by: Kevin Walsh
Annas Overwintering Map Picture
Delaware Hummingbirds – Anna’s Over-Wintering Map

Black-chinned – The Black-chinned hummingbird overwinters primarily in Mexico. Black-chinned hummingbirds are seen in some years, during winter months, in scattered areas throughout the USA including Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Florida, Georgia, Arkansas, North Carolina, and as far north as Maryland and Pennsylvania.

Male Black Chinned ID
Male Black-Chinned Hummingbird
Photo by: sony_alpha_male
Black chinned Overwintering Map Picture
Delaware Hummingbirds – Black-chinned Over-Wintering Map

Broad-tailed – The Broad-tailed hummingbird overwinters primarily in Mexico and Guatemala. Broad-tailed hummingbirds are seen in some years, during winter months, in scattered areas in Western Texas.

Broad tailed bird.whisperer UT
Male Broad-Tailed Hummingbird
Photo by: bird.whisperer
Broad tailed Overwintering Map Picture
Delaware Hummingbirds – Broad-tailed Over-Wintering Map

Calliope – The Calliope hummingbird overwinters primarily on the west coast of Mexico. Calliope hummingbirds are seen in some years, during winter months, in Ohio, Pennsylvania, and New York.

Calliope Male ID
Male Calliope Hummingbird
Photo by: sony_alpha_male
Calliope Overwintering Map Picture
Delaware Hummingbirds – Calliope Over-Wintering Map

Ruby-throated – The Ruby-throated hummingbird overwinters primarily in Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, and Panama. Ruby-throated hummingbirds are seen in some years, during the winter months, in scattered areas throughout the USA including New Mexico, Texas, Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, and North Carolina.

Male Ruby throated 8 mz13hummingbirds
Male Ruby-throated
Photo by: mz13hummingbirds
Ruby throated Overwintering Map Picture
Delaware Hummingbirds – Ruby-throated Over-Wintering Map

Rufous – The Rufous hummingbird overwinters primarily in Mexico. Rufous hummingbirds are seen in some years, during the winter months, in scattered areas throughout the USA including New Mexico, Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Georgia, Florida, Tennessee, North and South Carolina, Virginia, Kentucky, Missouri, Illinois, Ohio, Pennsylvania, New York, Vermont, Michigan, Wisconsin, and Minnesota.

Jace Rufous 1 WA
Male Rufous Hummingbird
Photo by: jace_the_bird_nerd
Rufous Overwintering Map Picture
Delaware Hummingbird – Rufous Over-Wintering Map

Every hummingbird has an exceptional memory. Throughout their spring migration, they can recall every flower or feeder they visited, and they will revisit those spots every year.

Hummingbirds have been seen to return to a feeder even after it has been removed for a few years.
See my article: Hummingbird Adaptation and Remarkable Ability to Locate Food

Check out my other posts on Hummingbird Questions

Happy Hummingbird Watching!

Elizabeth Donaldson

Hi Everyone! I have always loved our backyard and have been fascinated with all the wildlife living there. I am especially amazed by the skill, strength, and beauty of hummingbirds. I hope this article answered your questions.

Recent Posts