Resting and Refueling Along the Migration Trail
Stop and Go
Hummingbird migration is a stop and go journey. As hummers travel south, they must find places to rest and refuel along the way. Is your yard a valuable stopover site for hungry hummers?
“At least 25 hummingbirds - but maybe as many as 40 - were buzzing around my one-acre wildflower field. I first saw them at 5:45 pm. They stayed for at least an hour and then they were gone.” Minnesota, August 31, 2015
Finding Natural Nectar
Hummingbirds must find blooming flowers all along the migration pathway. They travel while their food supply is readily available — before flowers go out of bloom or are damaged by frost. This is why hummingbirds are among the first birds to migrate in the fall.
To gather enough nectar to meet their high energy needs, hummers must visit hundreds of flowers every day. One hummer can visit as many as two hundred flowers in fifteen minutes!
Spotted Jewelweed is an important wildflower for hummingbirds because it blooms during fall migration. The tubular shape of its drooping blossoms make hummers the perfect pollinators as they go from bloom to bloom in search of nectar.
Take a tour of your neighborhood with the eyes of a migrating hummingbird. Where can migrants find natural nectar sources? Pay attention to how the habitat changes as the season progresses. Think about which places could be transformed into stopover habitats for hummingbirds. Habitat = food, water, shelter & space.
Report Nectar Sources
How do bloom times of plants relate to the hummingbirds’ annual cycle? We’d like to hear what wild sources of nectar hummingbirds are using in your area and along the migration trail.
“The three hummingbirds still hanging around are all trying to enjoy my Red Lobelia that started blooming just in time!” Ohio, October 1, 2014