Hummingbirds leave upstate New York in September after having arrived in late April. Five species of hummingbirds migrate to New York: Ruby-throated, Rufous, Broad-Billed, Calliope, and Anna’s Hummingbird. The Ruby-throated Hummingbird breeds in New York.
Each spring, hummingbirds migrate through North America and spread to every US state. They move through Tennessee, Missouri, Kansas, and even Canada. They arrive in New York by mid-April in search of flowers, trees, and shrubs for food and breeding habitats. Hummingbirds leave New York by October and fly south to Florida, Texas, or Mexico.
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When Do Hummingbirds Migrate?
Hummingbird migration happens twice yearly—in the spring and fall. In late February, hummingbirds fly north from Panama, Costa Rica, or the southern US. This spring migration can take days, weeks, or months depending on the flying habits of each hummingbird.
Hummingbirds usually return to their birthplace to spend the spring and summer. In early fall, hummingbirds begin fall migration. During fall migration, hummingbirds return to the southern US or Central America to spend the winter.
Changes in daylight hours, blooming flowers, or weather events determine hummingbird migration. Hummingbirds follow their circadian rhythms and know precisely when they should migrate. Male hummingbirds migrate first, and females follow a few weeks later.
When Do Hummingbirds Arrive In New York?
Hummingbirds arrive in New York in late April. The Ruby-throated Hummingbird is known as the most common species of hummingbird reported in New York. Male Ruby-throated arrive by late April. Female Ruby-throated arrive by mid-May.
This species is the only species that breeds and nests in the eastern US, including New York, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Virginia, and Delaware. Ruby-throated Hummingbirds frequently visit backyard hummingbird feeders. Since these birds are territorial, they often perch on or near backyard feeders and defend their food sources from other hummingbirds.
They sometimes feed from every feeding port on the feeder before perching in front of the one that tastes the best. Hang hummingbird feeders in early April so that even the earliest arriving hummingbirds have food sources.
When Do Hummingbirds Leave Upstate New York In The Fall?
Hummingbirds leave upstate New York by mid-October. Some hummingbirds start to migrate south in late September, while others may stay year-round. In New York, hummingbirds only stay year-round if they are too old or injured to migrate south.
The Rufous Hummingbird can tolerate colder temperatures than many other species of hummingbirds and has been spotted in the eastern US in winter. Take down your hummingbird feeders when there have been no sightings in your area for a few weeks. Clean them very thoroughly and allow them to air dry. Store the feeders in a protected space for the winter.
Species of Hummingbirds Found In New York
1. Ruby-throated Hummingbird
How To Identify
- Males have a ruby-red gorget (throat) and bright green back feathers
- Females lack the red gorget and have duller green back feathers
- Females have a longer black bill (beak) than males
- Commonly seen in backyard trees, shrubs, orchards
- Fields, forest edges, parks—even city parks throughout New York
- Some winter in Texas, Louisiana, Alabama, Mississippi, Georgia, or Florida on the Gulf Coast
- Others fly to Mexico for the winter
2. Rufous Hummingbird
How To Identify:
- Males are a rusty orange color with a red-orange gorget
- Females have more white and paler orange feathers
- Occasional visitors to New York and less commonly seen
- Found at gardens and nectar feeders
- Extremely aggressive and will chase away any threatening creature
- Usually found on the Pacific Coast of California and Oregon
- Has breeding grounds in the forests of southeastern Alaska, Oregon, and California
- Facing habitat loss from fires in the western US
3. Broad-Billed Hummingbird
Spotted only in Owego and North Rose in 2006
How To Identify:
- Males have a blue gorget and breast with a metallic green body
- Females are duller in color
- Males and some females have a red bill that is black and wide near their head
- Typically found in Mexico
- A frequent visitor to many US states
- Breed in canyons in Arizona and New Mexico in the winter
- Prefers to live in canyons and mountain meadows
- Females build nests low to the ground near streams
4. Calliope Hummingbirds
Last spotted in New York in 2016
How To Identify:
- Smallest hummingbird in the US, at just over 3 inches in length
- Males have a bright pink throat, green back feathers, and dark tail feathers
- Females are pinkish-white underneath and lack the pink gorget
- Prefer to nest in pine trees or second-growth forests
- Typically found from California through the Rocky Mountains in Wyoming, Idaho, Montana, and Colorado
- Migrate to Mexico or the Gulf Coast in winter
5. Anna’s Hummingbird
Last reported in New York in 2017
How To Identify:
- Males have a magenta gorget and crown
- Males are grey under their belly and have green top feathers
- Females have a white chest and red spots on their throats
- Females have white tips on their tails
- The most vocal of the US hummingbirds
- Typically found on the west coast through Canada, California, Oregon, Arizona, Nevada, Utah, and Texas
- Known visitors to the eastern US
- Cold-hardy and able to stay in northern states during the winter
- Ranges are expanding likely due to urbanization, backyard feeders, and weather patterns
What Should I Feed Hummingbirds?
Feed hummingbirds with native plants and hummingbird nectar. Hang nectar feeders away from other bird feeders. Clean hummingbird feeders regularly, as the sugar solution ferments quickly in warm weather.
Consider the following plants to benefit hummingbirds in New York:
- Bee balm
Planting flowers with various bloom times helps ensure hummingbirds always have fresh flower nectar available. Add a shallow bird bath to your area, so the hummingbirds have a fresh water source. Since hummingbirds are territorial, having more than one feeding area is beneficial and can lessen feeder monopolization.