Hummingbirds are recognized for their diminutive size, iridescent plumage, incredible agility, and distinctive hovering flight. They are fascinating and colorful creatures that are only found in the Americas. While there are over 300 species of hummingbirds, only 16 are found in the United States. Of those, only three are found in Florida, and only one is a resident. The ruby-throated hummingbird is easily the most common hummer in Florida. Black-chinned and rufous hummingbirds are sometimes spotted in Florida as they are passing through on their Southern migration, but they are not full-time residents. So, are you ready to discover when hummingbirds leave Florida? Continue reading to learn the answer to that question and many others about hummingbirds in Florida.
Discover When Hummingbirds Leave Florida: Migration
Hummingbird migration is a remarkable feat of nature. These tiny little birds travel incredible distances between their breeding and wintering grounds. During migration, hummingbirds cover impressive distances. While ruby-throated hummingbirds migrate up to 2000 miles (3218 km), rufous hummers are known to travel almost twice as far from their breeding grounds in Alaska and Canada to their wintering grounds in Mexico. Hummingbirds undertake these journeys to find suitable habitats and resources associated with seasonal changes.
Discover When Hummingbirds Leave Florida: Ruby-throated Hummingbird
Ruby-throated hummingbirds (Archilochus colubris) cover impressive distances during their semi-annual migrations. They migrate from their breeding grounds in the Eastern United States and parts of Canada to their wintering grounds in Central America. Their breeding range extends from the Gulf Coast of the United States up into Southern Canada. They are commonly found in gardens, woodlands, and meadows.
Ruby-throated hummingbirds typically begin their fall migration from Florida to their overwintering grounds in Central America in late August to early September. The exact timing will vary based on weather conditions, food availability, and individual bird behavior. However, the majority, if not all Ruby-throats, will have left the state by late October. Hummingbirds prepare for the long migration by building up their fat reserves. They often spend several weeks feeding voraciously to ensure they have enough energy for the journey. Ruby-throated hummingbirds typically migrate across the Gulf of Mexico, covering distances of 500 to 600 miles (800 to 965 km) in a nonstop flight that can take 18-20 hours.
The black-chinned hummingbird (Archilochus alexandri) is known for its distinctive black throat patch, which gives the bird its common name. Black-chinned hummingbirds primarily breed and nest in Western North America. Their summer habitat extends from the Southwestern United States, including California, Arizona, New Mexico, and Nevada, up into parts of Western Canada, including British Columbia and Alberta. In late summer to early autumn, they migrate to their wintering grounds in Central and Southern Mexico. They are also found in Guatemala and Belize. The exact migratory routes and distances vary among individual birds. A few will stop in Florida on their flight, but the majority take a more Westwardly path. Like ruby-throats, black-chinned hummers travel long distances without stopping.
Discover When Hummingbirds Leave Florida: Rufous Hummingbird
Rufous hummingbirds (Selasphorus rufus) are small and highly migratory hummingbirds.
These hummers have one of the most extensive breeding ranges of any North American hummingbird species. They breed across a wide area of Western North America, ranging from Southern Alaska to Northern California, and from the Rocky Mountains West to the Pacific Coast. Their habitats include temperate rainforests, mountain meadows, and shrublands. During the breeding season, Rufous Hummingbirds are known for their aggressive territorial behavior. Males often engage in high-speed aerial displays to defend these territories.
Rufous Hummingbirds are famous for their remarkable migration patterns. They have one of the longest migratory journeys of any hummingbird species. In the fall, they undertake an impressive migration from their breeding grounds in North America to their overwintering grounds. These journeys cover distances of almost 4000 miles (6437 km). Rufous Hummingbirds spend the winter months in Mexico and Central America, including Costa Rica and Honduras.
The migration routes of rufous hummingbirds can vary widely. Some birds migrate along the Pacific Coast, while others cross the Rocky Mountains and travel through the interior of North America. A small number of rufous hummingbirds fly over Florida during migration. In recent years their wintering grounds have crept north into Southern Florida.
Five Fascinating Facts About Hummingbirds
- Hummingbirds are exclusive to the Americas. They are not native to any other continent. The majority of hummingbird species are found in Central and South America.
- Hummingbirds are the only birds that can fly backward! And upside down.
- Some hummingbirds can beat their wings up to 80 times per second, while their heart rates can exceed 1,200 beats per minute (Human hearts beat between 60 -100 bpm).
- The iridescent of hummingbird feathers is not due to pigmentation, but rather to the reflection of light on their feathers.
- Each April, The Alaska Hummingbird Festival in Ketchikan, Alaska celebrates the return of rufous hummingbirds.
The photo featured at the top of this post is © Steve Byland/ via Getty Images
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