Vermont Hummingbird Migration: 3 Awesome Travelers

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

When Do Vermont Hummingbirds Arrive?

The earliest arrivals of Vermont hummingbirds are seen in early May, and new arrivals continue through June.

According to the Vermont Fish & Wildlife Department (VFWD), during spring migration, Vermont hummingbirds begin to arrive as early as the beginning of May.

Some late migrators may arrive as late as June. By the end of June, all hummingbirds that are migrating further than Vermont will be gone from Vermont.

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 Vermont hummingbirds and will be the first migrating hummingbirds to be seen in Vermont.

Male Ruby throated 12 mz13hummingbirds
Male Ruby-throated hummingbird
Photo by: mz13hummingbirds

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

Vermont hummingbirds starting their spring migration north from Panama City, Panama need to fly about 4,741 miles over land or 2,473 miles if they fly over the Gulf of Mexico, to reach Burlington, Vermont.
Vermont hummingbirds starting their journey north from Mexico, at the United States’ southernmost border at Brownsville Texas, need to fly 1,865 miles to reach Burlington.

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

There are no hummingbird species that live in Vermont year-round. The Ruby-throated, Rufous, and Mexican violetear hummingbirds all migrate south to their wintering grounds during fall migration.

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 Vermont Hummingbirds Breed and Nest in the State?

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

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: Paula Leftwich
Ruby throated Breeding Map Picture
Vermont 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.

Vermont 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 Vermont Hummingbirds?

Vermont hummingbird enthusiasts should put out hummingbird feeders in early May to attract the very earliest arriving migrating hummingbirds.
The majority of Vermont 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 Vermont hummingbirds will continue to arrive until about mid-June.Hummingbirds seen in Vermont after mid-June will be hummingbirds that will spend their entire summer in Vermont.

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 Vermont Hummingbirds Stay in the State?

Vermont hummingbirds stay in the state for at least four months.
They will start arriving as early as May and most will be gone in October.
No hummingbird species live in Vermont 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.

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.

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 Vermont hummingbird seen during the hot summer months is the Ruby-throated hummingbird.

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 Vermont Hummingbirds Leave the State?

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

Most of Vermont 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 September, depending on their strength and energy, with the youngest hummingbirds finishing the fall migration by the end of 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 Vermont 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 Vermont Hummingbirds?

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

Should I keep my humm feeder out during the winter
Two Anna’s at Feeder in Snow
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).

Most Ruby-throated, Rufous, and Mexican violetear hummingbirds will not spend the winter in Vermont 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 Vermont Hummingbird to Migrate?

A Vermont hummingbird requires 62 hours of flying at its average migrating flight speed of 30mph to fly from Burlington to the most distant Mexican border 1,865 miles away.
Hummingbirds migrating to Panama 2,473 miles across the Gulf of Mexico or 4,741 miles over land, will need to fly 82 or 158 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 Vermont during this fall migration from September 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 Vermont Hummingbirds Go in the Winter?

Vermont Ruby-throated, Rufous, and Mexican violetear hummingbirds travel south to over-winter in Mexico, Guatemala, Belize, Honduras, El Salvador, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, and Panama.

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.

Ruby throated Overwintering Map Picture
Vermont Hummingbirds: Ruby-Throated Over-Wintering Map
Male Ruby throat 1 OHIO
Ruby-Throated Hummingbird
Photo by: Rekha Pawar

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.

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

Mexican Violetear – The Mexican Violetear hummingbird overwinters primarily in Mexico, Guatemala, and Honduras. Mexican Violetear hummingbirds are seen in some years, during winter months, in scattered areas throughout the USA including Arizona, Texas, and Louisiana.

Mexican Violetear Overwintering Map Picture
Vermont Hummingbirds: Mexican Violetear Over-Wintering Map
Male Mexican violetear 1 Ernesto Perez
Male Mexican Violetear
Photo by: Ernesto Perez

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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