A Slow Start

March 9, 2021 by Team Journey North

Spring migration can be difficult for hummingbirds. Temperature, wind patterns and storms can influence the pace of migration. Activity should significantly increase in the coming weeks. Report your hummingbird observations to Journey North!

“Male Costa’s Hummingbird sipping on the salvia from the garden center. There are lots of flowers starting to bloom in Tucson. The Costa’s seem to be year-round visitors.” Photo by: Marjorie (Tucson, AZ; 03/01/2021)

Ruby-throated Hummingbirds 

Where are all the Ruby-throats? Journey North citizen scientists in Texas and along the Gulf are noting arrivals, but reports are still few and far between. 

Jasmine Fairhope, AL: “First Ruby-throated Hummingbird of the season seen in Fairhope, AL. Adult male. March 2, 2021.”

Brigid in Port O Connor, TX: “Beautiful male Ruby-throat at my feeder. First one I’ve seen since fall.” (03/06/2021)

At this same time last year, Ruby-throats were already being reported in North Carolina. What’s slowing the pace of migration? Did February’s cold spell across much of the southern U.S. have an effect? Please report first observations of migrating Ruby-throated Hummingbirds.

Rufous Hummingbirds

Rufous Hummingbirds are returning to breeding grounds and making their way up the West Coast. However, thus far, there have only been 14 reports in comparison to 25 at the same point last year. Please report first observations of migrating Rufous Hummingbirds.

Judy in Oceanside, CA: “[Rufous Hummingbird] sitting on a branch of my Ficus tree that is on my covered patio.” (03/03/2021)

Kathy in Cannon Beach, OR: “I’ve been expecting their return all week. So happy to see them again!” (03/08/2021)

Other Species and Observations

Reports of Allen’s Hummingbirds and an unidentified nest have come in from California. Based on the nest photos, can you guess the species?

Linda in Newbury Park, CA: “Allen hummers continue to increase around our feeders.” (03/02/2021)

Angela in Clovis, CA: “Mama has two eggs in the nest!” (03/02/2021)

Call for Photos

If possible, please include photos in your reports. Photos are always helpful; they aid in identification and shed light on behavior. However, hummingbirds are not always cooperative subjects. One potential workaround is to take a video and then extract a screenshot to use as a photo. Learn more in the tutorials below:

Put Your Feeders and Planters Out

Did you know that migrating hummingbirds often return to the same feeders and nectaring plants year after year? If you live in an area where you observe early migratory arrivals, it is time to put your feeders and potted nectar plants out to provide energy for migrating hummingbirds. And depending on your location, start planting brightly-colored native flowers to provide pollinator habitat for hummingbirds and other species such as monarch butterflies.