Hummingbird Migration Map for 2019-2020. Where do hummingbirds migrate to? How long does it take them?
Weighing less than a nickel, the average hummingbird flaps its wings 90 times per second, eats half its own body weight in insects and nectar each day, and migrates according to the weather pattern. These beautiful, enchanting, and incredibly solitary creatures are fun to look at, and a joy to have flitting about your garden or yard. Following is everything you’ve ever wanted to know about hummingbird migration patterns.
Migration Is A Solo Activity For Hummingbirds
Hummingbirds largely live alone. In fact, they migrate alone as well. If you’re an amateur or long-time birdwatcher, then you know that this isn’t exactly ordinary behavior among birds. Most people think of bird migrations as being a group event, with ordinary flocking patterns. While geese take to the sky in large large gaggle, these tiny, territorial birds prefer to travel by themselves.
Certain Hummingbirds Don’t Migrate At All
Depending upon their local climate and their health and abilities, some hummingbirds do not migrate at all. In fact, many of these birds in California stay right where they are through all four of the seasons. Given that winters in some California areas can be quite temperate, hummingbirds are often able to continue subsisting on the land all of the time. With an increasingly number of consumers buying and making their own hummingbird nectar, stay-in-place hummingbirds often have the ability to pick and choose their meals all year long.
Changes In Food Supply Is The Most Likely Catalyst For Migration
Although the exact catalyst for hummingbird migration isn’t fully known, one theory is that a decrease in accessible food is the most likely trigger. This would explain why there are often more overwintering birds in areas that are filled with bird feeders than there are in regions where human-supplied food sources don’t exist. Scientists, however, are now exploring the possibility that changes within the level and angle of sunlight could initiate the onset of migration behaviors.
The Longest Traveling Hummingbird Is The Rufous Hummingbird
Although it measures just slightly over three inches in length, the Rufous hummingbird flies nearly 4,000 miles each year, one way. While hummingbirds eat approximately half their body weight during non-migration seasons, they start loading up on more food to prepare for their long journeys in autumn and early spring. At this time, they are usually eating their body weight in food everyday. Certain species, however, such as the Ruby-Throated variety are believed to eat up to three times their body weights.
Migratory Journeys Last Approximately Two Weeks
Hummingbirds complete their migrations within approximately three weeks. Their low flights mean that their paths are often riddled with a number of potentially deadly obstacles. If you have hummingbirds passing through your area during migration seasons, putting heavy nectar out can help them get fueled up and safely on their way. Making your nectar mixture a little sweeter doesn’t hurt either. By adding slightly more sugar or removing a touch of water, you’ll arrive at a thicker and more energy-dense solution.
Movement Means Everything
When it gets too cold, a hummingbird might enter a state of torpor. When they’re flitting about and moving from flower to flower, it might be difficult to spot them. Movement means everything for these birds and thus, signs of a slowing hummingbird is never a good sign. Fortunately, these birds have a built-in form of protection that helps keep them alive. A bird that is completely still and even looks outright dead, is likely just asleep. This is how their bodies protect them whenever they get caught in unexpected cold snaps. Their heart rates, which normally register at 1,200 beats per second, drop considerably. Their body temperatures lower and they breathe very infrequently. After the snap ends and the temperature begins to climb, these birds will gradually warm and wake up, and they’ll soon be on their way.
During the fall migration season, northern hummingbirds that do migrate will start moving down south. In the spring, these same birds will start their northward journey back home. Birds that live in the west may move southward, but many western hummingbird species are acclimated to remaining right where they are all throughout the year.