Hummingbird Migration in Colorado

When Do Hummingbirds Arrive in Colorado?

Colorado migrating hummingbirds begin arriving in early April and continue through the middle of June on their journey north to their preferred nesting area, somewhere near their own birth. The last of the Colorado spring migrating hummingbirds are gone by June, however, many will stay in Colorado for the rest of the summer.

Colorado migrating hummingbirds, including the Black-chinned, Calliope, Rufous, and Broad-tailed, continue their way north and into the eastern half of the United States.

According to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), the common summer breeding residents in Colorado are the Black-chinned, Calliope, and Broad-tailed hummingbirds.

Beginning their northern journey from as far away as Panama or as close as Mexico, migrating hummingbirds begin arriving in Colorado at the beginning of April.

Some late migrators may arrive as late as the end of May, but by June, all migrating hummingbirds are gone from Colorado, but many of those same species will end their northern migration and spend the rest of the summer in Colorado.

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

Keep your eye out for the brightly colored gorget of the male, the females will start showing up at your feeders about a week later.
See my article: How to Identify a Hummingbird’s Gender in 4 Easy Steps

Hummingbirds starting their spring migration from Panama need to fly about 3,700 miles to reach Colorado.

Hummingbirds starting their journey from Mexico need to fly about 1,200  miles to reach Colorado.

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

Once the breeding grounds have been reached, the focus turns to finding a partner with which to mate.

Each species of male hummingbirds 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

There is no penetration during the mating ritual as male hummingbirds do not have any external sexual organs.

The mating process only lasts for approximately 3-5 seconds while the cloacae (kloh-ay-see) of both hummingbirds are pressed together in what is called the “Cloacal Kiss” (kloh-a-coal kiss).

After the Cloacal kiss, the female must begin building the nest immediately.

Female hummingbirds prefer building nests 10 to 20 feet off the ground in deciduous trees.

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)

Hummingbirds usually lay 2 eggs per brood, one each on consecutive days.

Most hummingbirds have 2 broods per year, but depending on migration time and day length in their nesting destinations, some hummingbirds can have more than 2 broods per year.

In Colorado, nesting hummingbirds usually have 2 broods per year but some have time to work in a third brood.

When Should I Put Out Hummingbird Feeders in Colorado?

Hummingbird enthusiasts in Colorado should put out hummingbird feeders in the last week of March to attract the earliest arriving migrating hummingbirds.

Some Colorado hummingbird admirers leave hummingbird feeders up all winter long to provide life-nourishing nectar to Coloradan’s only possible rare year-round residents, the Black-chinned, Calliope, Rufous, and Broad-tailed hummingbirds.

Most of these hummingbirds will not spend the winter in Colorado and will decide to migrate south for the winter.

The selfless act of keeping hummingbird feeders up all winter also provides nectar to these and other migrating species unable to migrate because of injury or old age.
See my article: 11 DIY Ways to Keep Hummingbird Nectar From Freezing

How Long Do Hummingbirds Stay in Colorado?

The first north migrating hummingbirds arrive in Colorado at the beginning of April.
The first south migrating hummingbirds begin as early as late July and are usually completed by the end of September.
The last south migrating hummingbirds in the fall to leave Colorado are gone in October.

Hummingbirds too old or injured to migrate, or are brave enough to over-winter in Colorado will be the only hummingbirds the Centennial State hummingbird enthusiasts will see during the winter.

Hummingbirds have exceptional memories and will remember every flower or feeder they visited on the spring migration and will return to those nectar sources on their return to southern migration in the fall.
See my article: Hummingbird Adaptation and Remarkable Ability to Locate Food

The most common hummingbirds Coloradans will see during the hot summer months will be the Black-chinned, Calliope, Broad-tailed, and Rufous hummingbirds.

When the obstacles of the summer heat are difficult to manage and unbearable, finding ways to keep your hummingbirds happy and hydrated with cool nectar can be critical.
See my article: How to Help Hummingbirds in Hot Weather

When Do Hummingbirds Leave Colorado?

Colorado migrating hummingbirds begin leaving the state as early as July, and some as late as the end of September, migrating south to their over-wintering areas in Mexico and Central America.
Migrating hummingbirds will all be gone from Colorado in October.

This elongated migration time frame ensures late straggling migrants have enough food available to fuel their bodies before making the long taxing migration south for the winter.

The hummingbirds Colorado will see during the winter are possibly some migrating hummingbirds that are too old or injured to migrate.

Hummingbird migration is triggered by the circadian (internal daily clock) and the circannual (yearly internal clock) rhythm.

Changes in the weather, temperature, time of the season, the decline in the food supply, and decreased amount of sunlight because of shortening days are all factors that trigger an individual hummingbird’s instinct to migrate.

As with spring migration, male hummingbirds are the first to begin the southern migration in the fall. The female migrating hummingbirds will begin their southern fall migration as soon as they have completed raising their offspring to the ability to migrate themselves.

How Long Does It Take a Colorado Hummingbird to Migrate?

It takes a Colorado hummingbird about 40 hours of flying at its average migrating flight speed of 30mph to fly from Colorado to the Mexican border 1,200 miles away.
Hummingbirds migrating to Panama 3,700 miles away, will need to fly 123 hours to reach their winter destination.

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

Hummingbirds do not migrate in flocks as do other migrating birds.
Hummingbirds migrate individually on their own personal time clock.

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

As migration approaches, hummingbirds routinely gain 25% to 50% of their body weight by consuming increased quantities of nectar from feeders and flowering plants as well as catching an increased quantity of bugs mid-air for protein.

This increase in body fat helps fuel the hummingbird on its long migration journey.

Expect to see an increased volume of southern migrating hummingbird visitors to your feeders in Colorado during this fall migration from the end of July through September.

The hummingbirds that visited your feeders during the spring migration will remember exactly where your feeder is located and will most likely revisit that same feeder on their way to their over-wintering area in Mexico and Central America.
See my article: Hummingbird Adaptation and Remarkable Ability to Locate Food

When To Take Down Hummingbird Feeders in Colorado?

The best time to take down hummingbird feeders in Colorado for the winter is early October, or when there have been no consistent hummingbirds at the feeders for a couple of weeks.
Colorado hummingbird feeders can be up all winter to feed brave over-wintering hummingbirds or those too old or injured to migrate.

The dilemma every hummingbird enthusiast struggles with every year is whether to leave the hummingbird feeders up all year or taking them down during the winter.
See my article: Should I Keep My Hummingbird Feeder Out During the Winter?

Hummingbird enthusiasts that leave hummingbird feeders up all winter provide much-welcomed nutrition for year-round, migrating, and hummingbirds too old or injured to migrate.

Taking hummingbird feeders down mid-winter could be fatal.
See my article: 11 DIY Ways to Keep Hummingbird Nectar From Freezing

Where Do Colorado Hummingbirds Go in The Winter?

Colorado migrating hummingbirds travel south to over-winter in Mexico, Guatemala, Belize, Honduras, El Salvador, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, and Panama.

All hummingbirds have excellent memories and can remember every flower or feeder they visited during spring migration and will return to those locations along their migration pathway year after year.

Some hummingbirds have been documented returning to a feeder for a couple of years after it was removed.
See my article: Hummingbird Adaptation and Remarkable Ability to Locate Food

See my article: Hummingbirds Found in Colorado: (Pictures and Sounds)

Happy Hummingbird Watching!

Male Broad tailed CO
Male Broad-Tailed Hummingbird
Photo by: shaunwilseyphotography
Taken: Douglas County, Colorado

Backyard Visitors

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.

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