Still Passing Through

October 17, 2017 by Rita Welch

Even though migration season is nearing the end, observers are still seeing hummingbirds across the range. As sightings drop, we eagerly wait for news of arrivals in Costa Rica, the far end of the wintering grounds.

“Unbelievable! I was filling up my seed feeders this morning and there in my garden was a juvenile hummingbird! I quickly made some nectar as it was happily feeding from my flowers, still in abundance,” wrote Anna Nitschke from Port Loring, Ontario on October 12th.

Still Here

The number of sightings continues to drop, but keep watching! Hummers are still passing through and may start feeding as early as 45 minutes before sunrise. This time of year, they really need the energy of warm food to heat up after a cool night. From north to south, here’s what observers are seeing:

Ontario: “One very plump hummingbird is still here, filling up on Vermillionaire and Tithonia flowers,” wrote Roxy from Lincoln on October 15th.

Missouri: “One female rubythroat has been here for 3 days. We had not seen one for almost a week before this sighting,” wrote Sara from Thayer on October 15th.

Georgia: “One ruby after 8 days with no sightings,” wrote Gretel from Dahlonega on October 16th.

Texas: “Three hummingbirds showed up. It’s been 12-14 days since my last sighting,” wrote Samantha from Magnolia on October 15th.

Louisiana: “First confirmed sighting since October 10th. The hummingbird was nectaring on pentas, then perching on our tall citrus tree,” reported Seth from New Orleans on October 15th.

Still Waiting

Patricia Nethercote, our observer from Costa Rica is still waiting for arrivals.

“No sign yet of the ruby throats, but it is early. We just suffered some damage from Hurricane Nate and blooms may be in short supply. In our immediate area, we were very lucky. We have some trees down and many branches from other trees needing to be severely pruned. However, there was no flooding, just very soggy ground. Luckily my #1 hummer-attracting shrub was untouched and is in full bloom,” wrote Patricia Nethercote from Bagaces, Guanacaste on October 17th.

Ruby-throated hummingbirds usually reach this far end of the wintering range by mid- to late October. Last year, the first male was sighted on October 11th, earlier than the average arrival date of October 21st. If one of your backyard hummers migrates all the way to Costa Rica, how many miles will it have traveled?


North to South: Estimating Distances to the Wintering Grounds