The very idea of a hummingbird even existing is nearly unfathomable. A bird no larger than a huge beetle, with feathers that shimmer and sparkle in the sunlight, flies above the ground on wings that beat around 10-15 times per second and dances in front of vibrant flowers to savor the nectar. That alone is extraordinary. But on top of that, most hummingbirds migrate across great distances—hundreds, even thousands of miles—leaving chilly climates for the winter and returning in spring. Hummingbird sightings in the yard are uncommon, but with a little planning, you can make hummingbird season truly spectacular. The first step is to know the time of their arrival, so when is hummingbird season in Texas?
Seeing the smallest bird in the world never gets boring, and hummingbirds tend to be more interesting the more of them there are. Texas is among the best places to fulfill your dream of seeing a hummer. If you’re lucky, you might be in for a show as these small, magnificent creatures return to the Highland Lakes and other parts of the state every year. This article will uncover more about the hummingbird season in Texas and other fascinating facts.
When is Hummingbird Season in Texas?
Early to mid-March sees the arrival of hummingbirds in Texas, and they leave in October, but it varies based on their location in the state. As migratory birds, hummingbirds significantly influence when you should set up a feeder for best results, but it depends on where you are in the state or country. A week before hummingbirds’ anticipated arrival is generally the best time to set out feeders, which often occurs at the start of March in Texas. However, thanks to the state’s warm climate, it’s not always a bad idea for hummingbird enthusiasts to leave a feeder up all year.
Texas hosts hummingbirds all year long as it is a southern state, though most of them migrate even further south during the winter. The state is also a favorite stop for many hummingbirds migrating south to warmer climates like Mexico and Central America. Hummingbird arrivals in Texas vary depending on the region due to the state’s roughly 260,000 square mile size. Some inhabitants of Texas’ southern beaches at South Padre Island and Corpus Christi may observe hummingbirds like the buff-bellied hummingbird throughout the year. Some black-chinned hummingbirds will stay the entire year in southern regions close to the Rio Grande Valley, while rufous hummingbirds may spend the winter in southern Texas.
What Triggers the Migration of Hummingbirds?
Although theories about what causes the beginning of migration vary among birders, it is commonly agreed that hummingbirds are sensitive to variations in the length of daylight and the abundance of flowers, nectar, and insects. Migrations are also influenced by instinct, and hummingbird migration timing and path are largely determined by this rather than calculated decisions. However, such instincts evolved over a long time depending on what was most effective for the survival of previous generations.
Many backyard birders ponder whether leaving a hummingbird feeder up in the fall will prevent the birds from migrating. No. They fly away from flower gardens and bird feeders when it’s time for them to move toward their wintering grounds. Rarely, a wandering hummingbird spends the winter months far north in a cold region and visits a heated feeder. But that is the result of poor instincts; the feeder did not prevent the bird from traveling in the proper direction.
From geese to goldfinches, many species of birds frequently migrate in flocks. However, hummingbirds fly alone and navigate on their own. Even hatchlings on their initial southerly migration fly independently, without parental guidance, and rely on instinct instead. Due to their high metabolism and need for food, hummingbirds regularly linger on the road to eat. Hummingbirds often gain 25–40% of their body weight before beginning their long journey over land and water, and this helps support their high energy levels.
What Species of Hummingbirds Are the Most Common in Texas?
The two most prevalent species in Texas are the ruby-throated hummingbird and the black-chinned hummingbird. As per Texas Parks and Wildlife, 18 different hummingbird species were known to visit Texas previously; 16 have been spotted in the state in some years, like in 2012.
The males of the ruby-throated hummingbird have a vivid red patch on their throats, which gives the species its name. Female hummingbirds lack the male’s ruby throat but have a white underbelly and a green back. The ruby-throated hummingbird has a range that stretches from middle Texas and the Great Plains all the way up to Nova Scotia, making it the most prevalent hummingbird in the eastern United States, and eastern Texas is where these hummingbirds are most common.
Male black-chinned hummingbirds have black heads and a purple patch along their throats. However, it may be difficult to discern this with the naked eye because the birds are usually smaller than four inches. Females have a white bottom, a green back, and a metallic green head. The majority of central and western Texas is included in their breeding range.
The ruby-throated and black-chinned hummingbirds may not always be the most prevalent species in Texas, particularly if you live in southern Texas, where certain hummingbirds may spend the entire year there or the winter.
How to Attract Hummingbirds?
To consistently attract hummingbirds to your feeder, mix four parts of water with one part of table sugar. Small amounts of water should be mixed daily or every other day; there is no need to boil the water. If you’re creating a bigger batch, boil the water anyhow so you can store it. Put in enough sugar water to last them for a day or two, and then refresh them, only putting in enough liquid to consume within that period to keep them fresh.
Never use anything fancy; just use regular white sugar without liquid coloring. The feeder’s color is sufficient to draw birds, and the sugar in your pantry is the simplest and most cost-effective thing to use.
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- Birding Locations, Available here: https://birdinglocations.com/hummingbird-season-in-texas-when-to-hang-feeders/
- Hummingbird Central, Available here: https://www.hummingbirdcentral.com/hummingbird-migration.htm
- Smithsonian's National Zoo & Conservation Biology Institute (1970) https://nationalzoo.si.edu/migratory-birds/hummingbird-nectar-recipe#:~:text=Directions for making safe hummingbird,be stored in a refrigerator