Did you know New Hampshire only has one truly native hummingbird species? That’s right, only the ruby-throated hummingbird (Archilochus colubris) calls New Hampshire part of its home range. In fact, this is the only hummingbird species native to the whole of the Mid-Atlantic and Northeastern U.S. and Canada! Like other hummingbird species, they are strongly dimorphic, with males sporting more colorful plumage that includes an iridescent red throat patch called a gorget. Read on to find out when these little flying jewels arrive in and leave the state, where they go, and what other species may show up from time to time for a visit.
When Do Ruby-Throated Hummingbirds Arrive in New Hampshire?
Ruby-throated hummingbirds are not year-round residents of New Hampshire. Rather, they arrive during the annual spring migration season. Many will just be passing through as they migrate as far north as southern Canada. However, others will stick around and make New Hampshire their home for the breeding season. Males usually arrive first to claim breeding territories, around the beginning of May, with females arriving soon after to choose mates and nest. If you want to entice these migrating hummingbirds into making your home theirs for the season, you can attract them by planting their favorite nectar flowers and putting up nectar feeders!
When Do Ruby-Throated Hummingbirds Leave New Hampshire?
After breeding and raising their young through the summer, ruby-throated hummingbirds will reverse their path during the autumn migration season. During this time, birds who stayed to breed (and their young!) will join up with others flying back down from more northern regions. The departing waves usually pass through New Hampshire in September, with most birds gone from the state by the end of the month.
Where Do Ruby-Throated Hummingbirds Go After Leaving New Hampshire?
Ruby-throated hummingbirds migrate south to overwintering grounds in Florida, Mexico, and Central America. Incredibly, many will cross the Gulf of Mexico in a single super-powered nonstop flight!
Do Other Hummingbirds Visit New Hampshire Too?
While the ruby-throated hummingbird is the only official native species in the Northeastern U.S., several other species from western and southern North America and Central America occasionally pop up in the region as “vagrants.” These are individuals from species whose natural ranges aren’t normally in the area but who somehow turn up anyway. They may have been blown in by storms, gotten thrown off course during migration, hitchhiked on vehicles or cargo, or otherwise just managed to break new ground for their species! At least three such vagrant species have been recorded in New Hampshire in recent decades.
1. Rufous Hummingbird (Selasphorus rufus)
While this hummingbird species is native to western North America, it appears as a vagrant east of the Rockies more frequently than any of the other western species. It has been occasionally recorded in New Hampshire, most recently in December 2022.
2. Anna’s Hummingbird (Calypta anna)
This is an extremely rare western species visitor to New Hampshire. It has only ever been recorded once in the state, back in November 2020.
3. Calliope Hummingbird (Selasphorus calliope)
This is the smallest bird in the United States and another exceptionally rare western species visitor to New Hampshire. To date, the only record of this hummingbird in the state was back in October and November 2013.
There is only a single native hummingbird species in New Hampshire, the ruby-throated hummingbird. This migratory species will arrive in the state during the spring, usually beginning in early May. After spending the spring and summer months breeding and raising families, they will leave again for autumn migration in September, making their way south to their overwintering grounds. There are also at least three other hummingbird species that, while not native to the state, have been recorded as rare visitors. If you want to make whatever hummingbirds show up in your area feel welcome, make sure to provide them with a hummingbird-friendly habitat!
The photo featured at the top of this post is © CounselorB/Shutterstock.com
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