Hummingbird Migration Project
Volunteers helping to track hummingbird migration across North America.
Seasonal Message: Fall Migration Begins in August
Fewer hours of daylight trigger hormonal changes that cause an urge to fuel up and fly south for many hummingbirds that breed in the U.S. and Canada winter in Mexico and Central America. Help scientists, researchers and land managers answer pressing questions about hummingbird migration and habitat needs by submitting your hummingbird observations.
Hummingbirds use a lot of energy — darting among flowers, hovering at feeders, and flying long distances. They burn energy so fast that they need to eat 1.5 to 3 times their weight in food each day. If you live in the northern latitudes, your backyard hummingbirds will leave while nectar-rich flowers are still in bloom and feeders are full. Watch your hummingbirds go on a feeding frenzy before leaving their breeding grounds.
Hummingbirds are often the first birds to migrate south in the fall. Hummingbirds must find blooming flowers along the migration pathway and before the first frost. Hummingbirds migrate alone, not as a group. Banding has shown that migrating hummingbirds exhibit fidelity to migration routes. Amazingly, banders have reported annual encounters with banded birds on the same day year after year. Adult male hummingbirds are the first to leave breeding ranges. Adult females are the next, followed shortly by juveniles. Some males leave as early as July and August, but most hummingbirds depart towards the end of August and beginning of September.
What to Report
1. Reporting category: Hummingbird Sighting (Adult Male)
Where are you seeing adult male hummingbirds? Because male hummingbirds are the first to leave their breeding grounds and the first to arrive at fall migration stop-over sites, please report your observations of male hummingbirds. Comments: What male hummingbird species did you observe? Frequency: Report once a week when present. Photos: Always welcome. Male hummingbirds are usually more colorful than female and juvenile hummingbirds. Try to catch the vibrant orange, red, and green colors of the male hummingbirds with your cameras and smartphones. These photos provide a voucher for your observation.
2. Reporting category: Hummingbird Sighting
When are you observing female and juvenile hummingbirds? Female and juvenile hummingbirds leave northern breeding territories after male hummingbirds begin their journeys south. When you observe female and juvenile hummingbirds, please report your observations. Comments: What female and/or juvenile hummingbird species did you observe? Photos: Always welcome. These photos provide a voucher for your observation.
3. Reporting category: Hummingbird, Nectaring From Flowers
Are you observing hummingbirds necatering on flower resources? As hummingbirds travel south, they must find places to rest and refuel along the way. Please report your observations of hummingbirds refueling on nectar-rich plants. Comments: What nectar-rich plants did you observe? Frequency: Report once a week when present. Photos: Always welcome.
4. Reporting category: Hummingbird, Other Observations
What other interesting behaviors are you witnessing? Tell us what you are observing and don’t forget to submit photos and species names if known.
Subscription Information: Migration News
Stay attuned to the migration story by subscribing to Journey North Hummingbird News Updates. Click the “subscribe” button in the top-right corner of any published news update. During the fall, catch the news about where adult male hummingbirds are being observed. These news updates will be delivered to you twice a month.