How To Attract Hummingbirds To A Feeder

when to put hummingbird feeder out
Hummingbirds arrive at different times in different states and live year-round in some southern and western states.  A good rule of thumb is put out your feeder starting by March as most hummingbirds start arriving in time for spring. 

To attract hummingbirds, you need to know when to put hummingbird feeders out. By hanging hummingbird feeders a week or two before hummers usually arrive in your area and keeping them up a couple of weeks after they typically leave, you’ll ensure that hummingbirds feed at your feeders.

This article tells you when to put up your feeders according to your state or region. You can also learn about the most common species of hummingbirds in your area, and whether you have year-round resident hummers in your state.


Make Sure They Feel Welcome

Hummingbirds feed on flowers, small insects, and hummingbird nectar. Some basics of feeding hummingbirds include:

  • Choosing a bird feeder made for hummingbirds with multiple feeding ports, Amazon has a wide selection.
  • Keeping the sugar water fresh, and the feeder clean.
  • Cleaning the feeder with soap and water (or 1 part bleach to 9 parts water if it’s extremely dirty), using a bottle brush to get into all the crannies and feeding ports.
  • Make your hummingbird nectar with 4 cups water to 1 cup sugar; be sure to leave out the food coloring.
  • Keep hummingbird feeders away from other backyard bird feeders so the hummingbirds feel safe to feed and perch.

Setting up hummingbird feeders will, over time, draw more hummers to your area. Keep at it, even if you don’t see any at first!

So, you’ve gotten your supplies and are ready for your first hummingbird, but when should you put your hummingbird feeders out? That depends on where you live.

When To Put Hummingbird Feeders Out By State

Hummingbird spring migration varies slightly by region, with areas in the southwest and the gulf coast supporting hummers earliest or year-round. Hummingbirds then spread to the north and east and visit almost all 50 states and Canada during their breeding season.

Hummers will stay in most areas through to November. The farther north you are, the earlier they will leave so they can finish their migration before cold weather hits. A good rule of thumb is to leave your feeders out until two weeks after seeing the last hummingbird.

The only state in which feeding hummingbirds is prohibited by law in Hawaii.

Keep your feeders out year-round if you live in

  • Arizona
  • California
  • Nevada
  • South Carolina

Put your feeders out by late February or early March if you live in

  • Georgia
  • Oregon

Put your feeders out by early to mid-March if you live in

  • Florida

Put your feeders out by mid to late March or early April if you live in

  • Alabama
  • Arkansas
  • Delaware
  • Louisiana
  • Mississippi
  • Missouri
  • New Mexico
  • North Carolina
  • Texas

Put your feeders out by mid to late April or early May if you live in

  • Alaska
  • Colorado
  • Connecticut
  • Idaho
  • Illinois
  • Indiana
  • Iowa
  • Kansas
  • Kentucky
  • Maryland
  • Massachusetts
  • Michigan
  • Montana
  • New Jersey
  • New York
  • Ohio
  • Oklahoma
  • Pennsylvania
  • Rhode Island
  • Tennessee
  • Utah
  • Virginia
  • West Virginia
  • Wisconsin

Put your feeders out by early May if you live in

  • Maine
  • Minnesota
  • Nebraska
  • New Hampshire
  • North Dakota (though they are rare here)
  • South Dakota (they are rare here also)
  • Vermont
  • Wyoming

Also, remember, just because you don’t see hummingbirds at your feeders doesn’t mean they aren’t there feeding. At the beginning and end of the season, hummers are harder to spot.

Once they set up nests and are breeding, they are more obvious, which is when you’ll see more of them. You can be sure, though, that if you keep your feeder filled with hummingbird nectar, cleaning and refreshing it every few days, the hummers will find you!

What Hummingbirds Are In Your Area?

The Americas have over 350 species of hummingbirds. The Broad-Tailed and Buff-Bellied Hummingbirds are found in Colorado, Utah, and New Mexico. The Calliope Hummingbird is found in the northwest, through Idaho, and into Oregon and California. Costa’s hummingbird frequents Arizona and Nevada.

How Do They Know It’s Time To Migrate?

The number of daylight hours, weather patterns, and hummingbird hormones all tell the hummingbirds it’s time to migrate. Hummingbird sightings begin by mid-February and continue to mid-December.

Before they begin the migration, they put on a layer of fat to have enough energy for their long journey. Male hummingbirds typically arrive a week or two before the females. The males’ scout areas and set up territories, ready to defend food sources in their area.

When the females arrive, they begin to breed. The females are responsible for setting up the nest and raising the babies. During hummingbird migration, you might feed hummers that are migrating north of your area at first.

These migrants may be on their way further north or east but will stop at any feeder along the way. Hummingbirds follow hot weather, so they migrate north in the early spring and head back south in early fall.

The three species below are very common.

Chances are strong you’ll see one of these at your feeder:

The Ruby-Throated Hummingbird is the most common in the US and southern Canada. The male ruby-throated hummingbird has a patch of red on his throat, and his top feathers are green. The female is a slightly duller green and does not have a patch of red on her throat. Ruby-Throated hummingbirds winter in Mexico.

Rufous Hummingbirds are commonly found in the western US, from Alaska down to Mexico. They range from the west coast as far east as Colorado and New Mexico. They can travel up to 4,000 miles as they migrate. Rufous Hummingbirds have bright orange on their back and belly and a red patch on their throat. Females are slightly less colorful but still have orange and red on their feathers.

Allen Hummingbirds are found on the western US coast, in the extreme southwestern US, and into Mexico. Allen Hummingbirds have orange and red on their top feathers and throats, but their back is green. They have orange, green, and black on their tails. Females are generally duller in color, with red specks on their throats.

Knowing when to put hummingbird feeders out will help you attract these tiny backyard birds. Include a few bright-colored flowers around your area, and wait. Even if you don’t see hummers at first, by mid-summer, you will have hummingbirds eating your homemade hummingbird food!

Sarah Pearce

Sarah enjoys feeding hummingbirds in the warmer months, and a range of finches, woodpeckers, and cardinals in the cooler months. She enjoys researching and learning more about birds, gardening, and preserving food. She is learning how to maximize her small city backyard and is amazed at all the possibilities. She lives in southwestern Indiana with her family.

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