New York Hummingbird Migration: 5 Awesome Travelers

Nine common questions regarding the migration of New York hummingbirds are discussed in this article.

When Do New York Hummingbirds Arrive?

The earliest arrivals of New York hummingbirds are seen in April, and new arrivals continue through June.

New York hummingbirds begin their spring migration north from as far away as Panama or as close as Mexico. New York hummingbirds arrive in New York as early as April, while some late migrators may arrive as late as June. By the end of June, all hummingbirds that are migrating further than New York will be gone from New York.

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.

Ruby-throated hummingbirds are by far the most commonly seen New York hummingbirds and will be the first migrating hummingbirds to be seen in New York.

Ruby throat Andy Raupp
Ruby-Throated Hummingbird
Photo by: Andy Raupp

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 New York hummingbird enthusiasts start feeding them when they arrive, there is less chance they will move on and will decide to spend the summer in New York.

New York hummingbirds starting their spring migration north from Panama City, Panama need to fly 4,381 miles over land or 2,170 miles flying across the Gulf of Mexico to reach Albany, New York.
New York hummingbirds starting their journey north from Mexico, at the United States’ southern-most border at Brownsville Texas, need to fly 1,772 miles to reach Albany.

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

There are no hummingbird species that live in New York year-round, however, the Anna’s, Calliope, and Rufous hummingbirds are seen and documented in the middle of winter.

New York Hummingbirds That Are Seen During Winter Months Shown In Order Of Abundance Seen In Winter

Male Rufous 4 OR
Male Rufous Hummingbird
Photo by: Kevin Walsh
Calliope Male ID
Male Calliope Hummingbird
Photo by: sony_alpha_male
Male Annas 7
Male Anna’s Hummingbird
Photo by: Kevin Walsh

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 New York Hummingbirds Breed and Nest in the State?

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

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.

Ruby throat Andy Raupp
Ruby-Throated Hummingbird
Photo by: Andy Raupp
Ruby throated Breeding Map Picture
New York Hummingbirds: Ruby-Throated 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.

When a female hummingbird arrives at the breeding grounds, her attention shifts to building a nest and then looking for a mate.

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.

New York 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 New York Hummingbirds?

New York hummingbird enthusiasts should put out hummingbird feeders in April to attract the very earliest arriving migrating hummingbirds.
The majority of New York migrating hummingbirds will arrive in June.

If migrating hummingbirds are fed when they start to arrive there is less chance of them moving on.

Hummingbird aficionados can reduce the likelihood that hummingbirds will leave the state and elect to spend the summer there by providing food for them as soon as they arrive, according to the Missouri Department of Conservation.

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

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

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 New York Hummingbirds Stay in the State?

New York hummingbirds stay in the state for at least five months.
They will start arriving as early as April and most will be gone in October.
Some Anna’s, Calliope, and Rufous are seen in New York during winter, but most migrate south for the winter.
No hummingbird species live in New York 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 New York and those too old or injured to migrate will be the only likely hummingbirds New York hummingbird enthusiasts will see during the winter.

The extremely cold-tolerant Anna’s, Calliope, and Rufous hummingbird is the most probable migratory hummingbird to decide to spend the winter in New York.

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 New York hummingbird seen during the hot summer months will be the Ruby-throated hummingbird with the Rufous hummingbird being a distant second.

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 New York Hummingbirds Leave the State?

Hummingbirds from New York start to migrate out of the state as early as late August and are gone by late October, migrating to their overwintering grounds in Mexico and Central America by late October.
New York is not home to year-round hummingbirds.

Most of New York’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 as early as late August, depending on their strength and energy, with the youngest hummingbirds finishing the fall migration by late October.

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

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.

Some migrating hummingbirds New York will possibly see during the winter are migrating hummingbirds that are too old or injured to migrate.

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 New York Hummingbirds?

Mid-to-late October, or after a few weeks without any hummingbird sightings, is the ideal time to remove New York hummingbird feeders for the winter.
Feeders are left up all winter by some New Yorkers 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.

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).

The Anna’s, Calliope, and Rufous hummingbirds, who are New York most likely uncommon winter visitors, depend on the nectar that some hummingbird fans leave out all winter long.

Most Broad-billed and Ruby-throated hummingbirds will not spend the winter in New York and will decide to migrate south to Mexico 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 New York Hummingbird to Migrate?

A New York hummingbird requires 59 hours of flying at its average migrating flight speed of 30mph to fly from Albany to the Mexican border at Brownsville, Texas, 1,772 miles away.
Hummingbirds migrating to Panama 2,344 miles across the Gulf of Mexico or 4,610 over land, will need to fly 78 or 153 hours, respectively.

Some fly at a 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.

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 once.

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 New York during this fall migration from late August through the end of 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 New York Hummingbirds Go in the Winter?

New York Ruby-throated, Rufous, Calliope, Anna’s, and Broad-billed 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.

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 6 mz13hummingbirds
Ruby-Throated Hummingbird
Photo by: mz13hummingbirds
Ruby throated Overwintering Map Picture
New York Hummingbirds: Ruby-Throated Over-Wintering Map

Rufous – The Rufous hummingbird breeds primarily in the northwest along the Pacific coastline from Anchorage Alaska to San Francisco. Their breeding grounds extend eastward to include most of British Columba and some of Alberta’s state line area with British Colombia.
In the United States Rufous hummingbird breeding areas include Washington, Montana, Oregon, Idaho, Wyoming, and northern California.

Male Rufous 4 OR
Male Rufous Hummingbird
Photo by: Kevin Walsh
Rufous Overwintering Map Picture
New York Hummingbirds: Rufous Over-Wintering Map

Calliope – The Calliope hummingbird breeds primarily inland from the Pacific coastline in British Columbia, the states of Washington, Montana, Oregon, Idaho, Wyoming, and California as far south as Los Angeles.

Calliope Male ID
Male Calliope Hummingbird
Photo by: sony_alpha_male
Calliope Overwintering Map Picture
New York Hummingbirds: Calliope Over-Wintering Map

Anna’s – The Anna’s hummingbird breeds primarily along the western coastline of North America from Vancouver, BC to the southernmost tip of Baja California and extending eastward in central California to include the southern tip of Nevada, about 75% of Arizona, and into the western coast of upper Mexico.
There are isolated scattered breeding areas identified in Idaho, Arkansas, the Chicago area, and northern British Columbia.

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

Broad-billed – The Broad-billed hummingbird overwinters primarily in Mexico. Broad-billed hummingbirds are seen in some years, during winter months, in scattered areas throughout the USA including Texas, Arizona, Louisiana, Florida, and Utah.

Broad billed hummingbirdsbysuprise AZ
Male Broad-billed Hummingbird
Photo by: hummingbirdsbysuprise
Broad billed Overwintering Map Picture
New York Hummingbirds: Broad-Billed 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.

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