Hummingbird Migration in New Hampshire

When Do Hummingbirds Arrive in New Hampshire?

New Hampshire migrating hummingbirds begin arriving the first week of May on their journey north to their preferred nesting area, somewhere near their own birth. The last of the New Hampshire spring migrating hummingbirds are gone by the end of May.

While some Ruby-throated hummingbirds live in New Hampshire year-round, others of that species do migrate further north.

Migrating hummingbirds, including the Rufous, Calliope, and some Ruby-throated, continue their way north into the eastern half of the United States all the way into Canada.

Beginning their northern journey from as far away as Panama or as close as Mexico, migrating hummingbirds arrive in New Hampshire the first of May, some very early migrators may arrive in the last few days of April, but by the end of June, all migrating hummingbirds are gone from New Hampshire.

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 4,700 miles to reach New Hampshire.

Hummingbirds starting their journey from Mexico need to fly about 2,250 miles to reach New Hampshire.

While Rufous hummingbirds and rarely the Calliope are sometimes seen, they do not nest in New Hampshire.

The only hummingbirds that live and nest in New Hampshire are Ruby-throated hummingbirds, all other hummingbirds seen in New Hampshire are just passing through to their nesting destination.

Even though the Ruby-throated hummingbird lives and nests in New Hampshire, some of them also will be just passing through New Hampshire to their own personal nesting destination of choice.

According to The Cornell Lab, the Ruby-throated hummingbird’s breeding range covers the entire Eastern half of the United States extending from its Southernmost landmass up into Canada.

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, 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 New Hampshire, 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 New Hampshire?

Hummingbird enthusiasts in New Hampshire should put out hummingbird feeders in mid-April to attract the earliest arriving migrating hummingbirds.

Some New Hampshire hummingbird admirers leave hummingbird feeders up all winter long to provide life-nourishing nectar to New Hampshire’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 New Hampshire?

The first north migrating hummingbirds arrive in New Hampshire the first of May and the last south migrating hummingbirds in the fall to leave New Hampshire are gone by mid-October.
Some Ruby-throated Hummingbirds stay in New Hampshire year-round. 

New Hampshire’s year-round resident, the Ruby-throated hummingbird, or hummingbirds too old or injured to migrate, will be the only hummingbirds New Hampshire 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 southern migration in the fall.

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

The only hummingbirds New Hampshirites or Granite Staters will see during the hot summer months will be the year-round hummingbird resident, the Ruby-throated hummingbird.

When the obstacles of 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 New Hampshire?

New Hampshire’s migrating hummingbirds begin leaving the state as early as September, migrating south to their over-wintering areas in Mexico and Central America. Migrating hummingbirds will all be gone from New Hampshire by mid to late 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 only hummingbirds New Hampshirites or Granite Staters will see during the winter are the year-round Ruby-throated hummingbirds and 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 her offspring to the ability to migrate themselves.

How Long Does It Take a New Hampshire Hummingbird to Migrate?

It takes a New Hampshire hummingbird about 75 hours of flying at its average migrating flight speed of 30mph to fly from New Hampshire to the Mexican border 2,250 miles away.
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 hummingbird visitors to your feeders in New Hampshire during this fall migration at the beginning of 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 Feeder in New Hampshire?

The best time to take down hummingbird feeders in New Hampshire for the winter is the first of 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 New Hampshire’s year-round residents and those migrating hummingbirds too old or injured to migrate.

The dilemma every hummingbird enthusiast struggles with every year is leaving the hummingbird feeders up all year or taking them down during 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 New Hampshire’s year-round hummingbird, the Ruby-throated hummingbird, as well as life-saving nutrition for migrating hummingbirds too old or injured to migrate.

Taking hummingbird feeders down mid-winter could be fatal for migrating hummingbirds too old or injured to migrate.

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

Where Do New Hampshire Hummingbirds Go in The Winter?

New Hampshire’s 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 New Hampshire: (Pictures and Sounds)

Happy Hummingbird Watching!

Male Ruby 2 TN
Male Ruby-throated Hummingbird

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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