Hummingbird Migration in Indiana

When do hummingbirds arrive in Indiana?

Migrating hummingbirds begin arriving in Indiana the last week of March and the beginning of April. Hummingbirds seen before the last week in March will be Indiana’s only year-round resident hummingbird, the Ruby-throated hummingbird.

Some migrating Ruby-throated hummingbirds continue their journey North into the eastern half of the United States all the way into Canada.

Some hummingbirds start their spring migration from as far south as Panama, about 3,500 miles away from Indiana. These hummingbirds must start their spring migration in February to arrive in Indiana at the end of March or beginning of April.

Some hummingbirds start their spring migration from Mexico, about 1,500 miles from Indiana. These hummingbirds can delay the start of their northern migration but their arrival to Indiana will be the same as their more southern relatives, the last week of March and early April.

All hummingbirds seen in Indiana during spring migration are not nesting in Indiana except the Ruby-throated hummingbird.

The Ruby-throated hummingbird is the only hummingbird that chooses to build a nest and raise a family in Indiana.

According to Purdue University of Forestry and Natural Resources in West Lafayette, Indiana, the Ruby-throated hummingbirds are the only species that breed in Indiana and nest east of the Mississippi River.

The reason for northern hummingbird migration is to reach their nesting area. Once they reach their preferred nesting destination the focus changes from migration to finding a mate and raising a family.

Upon reaching their breeding grounds in early spring, Indiana observers will see male Ruby-throated hummingbirds perform dive displays and dance maneuvers to attract a flirty female.

Each species of hummingbirds have their own unique mating dance ritual or courtship routine to attract a 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 which is called a “Cloacal Kiss” (kloh-a-coal kiss).

A female hummingbird’s nest may take five days or up to a week to build. They prefer to build their nest in deciduous trees 10-20 feet high.

The nest is constructed of materials found in Indiana such as down from dandelion, thistle, milkweed, portions of ferns, mosses and young immature leaves. All of these resilient outdoor elements are held together with spider web silk, which acts like glue.

To learn more of this process see my article: Hummingbird Parents: (Mating to Nesting)

See my article: Baby Hummingbirds: (Egg to Fledgling)

Some researchers report female hummingbirds may raise as many as 6 families called “broods” per year.

The Ruby-throated hummingbird is the only hummingbird that nests in Indiana, averaging to raise two families per year. However, there are occasions where they are able to work in an additional family for a total of three families per year.

When should I put out my hummingbird feeders in Indiana?

Hummingbird enthusiasts in Indiana should put up their hummingbird feeders around March 15. Migrating hummingbirds will begin arriving in Indiana the last week of March.

Some Indiana hummingbird admirers leave hummingbird feeders up all winter long to provide life-saving nectar to Indiana’s only year-round resident, the Ruby-throated hummingbird. This selfless act also provides nectar to 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 Indiana?

Some Ruby-throated hummingbirds stay in Indiana year-round. The first migrating hummingbirds arrive in Indiana at the end of March and the last migrating hummingbirds that leave Indiana are usually gone by early November.

Ruby-throated hummingbirds or migrating hummingbirds that are too injured or old to migrate are the only hummingbirds people from Indiana will see in the winter.

Hummingbirds have exceptional memories and they will remember feeders they have visited on their way north to their mating destinations.

See my article: Hummingbird Adaptation and Remarkable Ability to Locate Food

As summer sets in, the number of hummingbirds that visit feeders in Indiana will decrease.

Native and Seasonal hummingbirds in Indiana brave through the hot and humid summer months.

See my article: How to Help Hummingbirds in Hot Weather

When the obstacles of summer heat are difficult to manage and unbearable, finding ways to keep your hummingbirds happy and hydrated with cool nectar is crucial.

See my article: How to Cool Hummingbird Nectar in Hot Weather

Migrating hummingbird visitors will move further north while the year-round Ruby-throated hummingbirds will continue to visit Indiana feeders.

As these hummingbirds begin their migration south, begin to expect hummingbird feeders in Indiana to become busy and popular. Hummingbirds remember the exact location of hummingbird feeders they have visited along their earlier northern migration path.

When do hummingbirds leave Indiana?

Hummingbirds that choose to migrate from Indiana to Mexico and Central America start that migration in late July and most migrators are gone by late October. Some Ruby-throated hummingbirds choose to over-winter in Indiana. Any hummingbird seen in Indiana during the winter are almost certainly Ruby-throated hummingbirds.

This fall migration time frame is supported by Purdue University of Forestry and Natural Resources in West Lafayette, Indiana.

Hummingbird migration is triggered by circadian or daily internal clock and the circannual rhythm or yearly clock. Changes in the weather, temperature, time of season, decline in food supply and shorter days with less sunlight are factors that influence the beginning of fall migration.

After the fall migration of Indiana hummingbirds, beginning in October and ending mid-November, most hummingbirds will have migrated south, overwintering in Mexico and Central America.

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

How long does it take an Indiana hummingbird to migrate?

It takes an Indiana hummingbird about 50 hours of flying at its average migrating flight speed of 30 mph to fly from Indiana to the Mexican border 1,500 miles away. Some fly at a relaxed distance as slow as 1 hour a day, others can fly 500 miles non-stop in about 20 hours, as some do while migrating across the Gulf of Mexico.

Hummingbirds do not migrate all at the same time to ensure all resources are not consumed and depleted. They do not migrate in flocks as do other birds; they migrate individually on their own personal time clock.

As migration approaches, hummingbirds routinely gain 25% to 50% of their body weight by consuming nectar from feeders, flowering plants, and catching bugs in mid air for protein. The extra body weight and fat fuel the hummingbird for their long migration journey.

Expect to have an increased volume of hummingbird visitors to your feeder during this migration time in October and early November, therefore, maintaining feeders is critical in order to maximize food consumption that nourishes and prepares their bodies for migration.

See my article: Should I Keep My Hummingbird Feeder Out During the Winter?

When should I take down my hummingbird feeders in Indiana?

The best time to take down hummingbird feeders for the winter in Indiana is in mid-November or when there have been no consistent hummingbirds at the feeders for a couple of weeks. Feeders can be up all winter to feed the year-round Ruby-throated hummingbird or those unable to migrate, but removal in the winter could be fatal.

This rule only applies to those who choose to take down their feeders every year, however many choose to leave their feeders up year-round providing consistent nourishment for the year-round native Ruby-throated hummingbirds and for the other hummingbirds that are too old or injured to migrate.

Providing and maintaining a steady food supply during the winter is critical for hummingbirds who become dependent on the feeder for winter nutrition. Taking them down could be life threatening!

The dilemma every hummingbird enthusiast struggles with every year is leaving the feeders up all year or choosing to take them down?

See my article: Should I Keep My Hummingbird Feeder Out During the Winter?

See my article: 11 DIY Ways to Keep Hummingbird Nectar From Freezing

Where do Indiana hummingbirds go in the winter?

All Seasonal Indiana hummingbirds and some Ruby-throated hummingbirds migrate south to winter in Mexico, Guatemala, Belize, Honduras, El Salvador, Nicaragua, Costa Rica or Panama.

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

Some hummingbirds have been spotted returning to a feeder for a couple of years after the feeder was removed.

See my article: Hummingbird Adaptation and Remarkable Ability to Locate Food

Happy Hummingbird Watching!

Female Ruby throat 2 USE

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.

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