What Time Of Year Should You Put Out Your Hummingbird Feeders?

Hummingbirds love nectar and sugar water and if you put a feeder (see our top 10 favourites here!) in your garden for them, they’ll enjoy coming to feed.

The best time to put out your hummingbird feeders will depend on where you live. In some southern areas of the country you’ll be able to see them all year round. In central states they will start to come from mid March and leave in late summer or early fall. But, further north they may not get there until mid to late April.

So based on your location, what time of year do you put out your hummingbird feeders? Here’s a breakdown of when you should have your feeders out for each state.

Which State Do You Live In?

Check your state in the table below to see when you should be putting out your feeders.

Your State When To Put Out Your Feeders When To Take Down Your Feeders
Alabama Early March December
Alaska Early April September
Arizona All Year  
Arkansas Mid March December
California All Year  
Colorado Early April November
Connecticut Early April November
Delaware Early April November
Florida All Year  
Georgia All Year  
Idaho Late March November
Illinois Early April December
Indiana Early April December
Iowa Mid April December
Kansas Early April December
Kentucky Mid March December
Louisiana All Year  
Maine Mid April November
Maryland Early April December
Massachusetts Early April December
Michigan Early April November
Minnesota Mid April November
Mississippi All Year  
Missouri Early March January
Montana Early April November
Nebraska Mid April December
Nevada Early March December
New Hampshire Early April November
New Jersey Mid March December
New Mexico Late February December
New York Late March December
North Carolina All Year  
North Dakota Late April November
Ohio Late March December
Oklahoma Late March November
Oregon All Year  
Pennsylvania Late March December
Rhode Island Early April November
South Carolina Early March December
Tennessee Late March December
Texas All Year  
Utah Mid March November
Vermont Early April November
Virginia Early March December
Washington Late March November
West Virginia Mid March December
Wisconsin Early April November
Wyoming Late April October

Which Hummingbirds Arrive When?

Check out the following table that tells you which hummingbird species you’re likely to see in your state first and when.

State Month They Arrive Species
Alabama 1st week of March Ruby-Throated hummingbird
  Some Ruby-Throated, Rufous & Black-chinned hummingbirds may stay over winter.
Alaska 1st week of April Rufous hummingbird
Late August Anna’s hummi8ngbird
Arizona Year Round Rivoli’s, Anna’s, Broad-billed & Costa’s hummingbirds & Blue-throated Mountain gems
2nd week of January Violet-crowned hummingbirds
Mid February Rufous hummingbirds (migrate through)
1st week of March Black-Chinned & Broad-tailed hummingbirds
Last week of March Lucifer hummingbirds
Last week of March Calliope hummingbirds (migrate through)
2nd week of May White-eared humming birds
1st week of July Plain-capped Starthroats
Mid July Berylline hummingbirds
Arkansas Last week of March Ruby-throated hummingbirds
California Year Round Anna’s & Costa’s hummingbirds
Mid January Allen’s hummingbirds
Mid February Rufous hummingbirds (migrate through)
Last week of March Black-chinned hummingbirds
1st week of April Calliope hummingbirds
Colorado Mid April Black-chinned & Broad-tailed hummingbirds
Late June Rufous hummingbirds (migrate through)
1st week of July Calliope hummingbirds
Connecticut Mid April Ruby-throated hummingbirds
Delaware 1st week of April Ruby-throated hummingbirds
Florida Year Round Ruby-throated, Black-chinned & Rufous hummingbirds
Georgia 2nd week of March Ruby-throated hummingbirds
Idaho 1st week of April Black-chinned & Calliope hummingbirds
2nd week of April Rufous hummingbirds
Late April Broad-tailed hummingbirds
September Anna’s hummingbirds
Illinois 2nd week of April Ruby-throated hummingbirds
Indiana 1st week of April Ruby-throated hummingbirds
Iowa Late April Ruby-throated hummingbirds
Kansas 2nd week of April Ruby-throated hummingbirds
Kentucky Last week of March Ruby-throated hummingbirds
Louisiana 1st week of March Ruby-throated hummingbirds
1st week of August Rufous hummingbirds
September Black-chinned & Buff-bellied hummingbirds
Mid November Calliope hummingbirds
Maine Mid April Ruby-throated hummingbirds
Maryland Mid April Ruby-throated hummingbirds
September Rufous hummingbirds
Massachusetts 2nd week of April Ruby-throated hummingbirds
Michigan Late April Ruby-throated hummingbirds
Minnesota Late April Ruby-throated hummingbirds
Mississippi Late February Ruby-throated hummingbirds
Missouri Late March Ruby-throated hummingbirds
Montana 2nd week of April Rufous & Calliope hummingbirds
1st week of May Black-chinned & Broad-tailed hummingbirds
August Ruby-throated hummingbirds
Nebraska Late April Ruby-throated hummingbirds
Nevada Year Round Anna’s & Costa’s hummingbirds
Early March Broad-tailed hummingbirds
Mid March Black-chinned & Rufous hummingbirds
Late March Calliope hummingbirds
New Hampshire 2nd week of April Ruby-throated hummingbirds
New Jersey Late March Ruby-throated hummingbirds
New Mexico Early March Black-chinned & Broad-tailed hummingbirds
Mid June Rufous hummingbirds
End June Calliope
New York Early April Ruby-throated hummingbirds
North Carolina Late March Ruby-throated hummingbirds
North Dakota Last week of April Ruby-throated hummingbirds
Ohio 1st week of April Ruby-throated hummingbirds
Oklahoma Last week of March Ruby-throated & Black-chinned hummingbirds
Mid July Rufous hummingbirds
Oregon Year Round Anna’s hummingbirds
Mid February Rufous & Allen’s hummingbirds
Mid March Black-chinned & Calliope hummingbirds
Pennsulvania 1st week of April Ruby-throated hummingbirds
2nd week of November Rufous hummingbirds (rare)
Rhode Island 2nd week of April Ruby-throated hummingbirds
South Carolina Mid March Ruby-throated hummingbirds
August Rufous hummingbirds
South Dakota 1st week of May Ruby-throated hummingbirds
Mid May Broad-tailed hummingbirds
Mid July Rufous hummingbirds (rare)
Tennessee Last week of March Ruby-throated hummingbirds
Mid July Rufous hummingbirds
Texas Year Round Broad-tailed & Buff-bellied hummingbirds
Late February Lucifer hummingbirds
1st week of March Ruby-throated, Rufous & Black-chinned hummingbirds
Utah Year Round Anna’s & Costa’s hummingbirds
Mid March Black-chinned & Broad-tailed hummingbirds
Early April Calliope hummingbirds
Late June Rufous hummingbirds
Vermont 2nd week of April Ruby-throated hummingbirds
Virginia 2nd week of March Ruby-throated hummingbirds
Washington Year Round Anna’s hummingbirds
Early February Rufous hummingbirds
End of March Calliope hummingbirds
Late April Black-chinned hummingbirds
West Virginia End of March Ruby-throated hummingbirds
Mid September Rufous hummingbirds
Wisconsin 2nd week of April Ruby-throated hummingbirds
Wyoming End of April Broad-tailed hummingbirds
1st week of May Black-chinned & Calliope hummingbirds
Late June Rufous hummingbirds

Prepare Your Feeder

Before you put your feeder out, you need to prepare it properly. It should have been cleaned before you stored it away, but check it and give it a clean before you put it up.

Give it a good soak in hot water and let it dry thoroughly. Then check it over to make sure everything is there and that the hummingbirds will be able to get to the nectar. When you’re happy it’s clean and dry, you can place it in the garden.

Sugar water should be carefully prepared. You can purchase it ready made, but some of these mixtures contain red dye and this can be harmful to the hummers. It’s also much more enjoyable watching them eating something you’ve made yourself. You don’t need to color the water: just add red ribbons to the feeder to attract the hummingbirds.

You can prepare a larger batch of sugar water as it can be stored in the fridge for up to 2 weeks. The best recipe is one cup of sugar to 4 cups of water. Don’t use honey, artificial sweeteners, brown sugar or raw sugar. The best sugar to use is either cane or beet sugar.

Bring the water to the boil, then remove from the heat and stir the sugar in straight away. When it has all dissolved, leave it to cool and you have lovely sugar water ready for your hummingbirds.

Prepare Your Garden

Hummingbirds have excellent memories, so if they came to your garden last year, they’ll remember that you offered them sugar water and come back for more. However, if you put your feeder out too late, they won’t see it and will instead go and look for a new territory.

The feeder should be in the open so they can see it as they fly over, and in an area of the garden which is not too busy or noisy.

You still need to make sure your garden is welcoming as well. Hummingbirds will look for flowers that have a high nectar content and ones with deep tubular blooms. Hummers have no sense of smell and are more attracted by color, particularly the color red.

Red flowers will encourage them into your garden and so you should plant these with other flowers that provide plenty of nectar. It’s a good idea to plant a mix of early and late bloomers so the hummingbirds will have plenty of nectar to take them through summer and into fall when they leave again.

Remember that these birds can be very territorial and if you want to attract more than one hummingbird, you will need plenty of room in your garden. They will also need trees to build their nests in and they prefer those that are native to the area.

If you provide easy to find nesting material there’s a good chance they’ll use it to nest in your garden. They prefer moss, lichen, leaves, small bits of bark and spider silk or cotton fibers.

Look For Clues Before The Hummers Arrive

If you look out and see a hummingbird in your garden, it may be too late to set up your feeder, so look for clues that can remind you that they’re on their way.

If you want to know when they are likely to come to your area, ask locally. There will be local bird or wildlife groups who can tell you which species of hummingbirds are more likely to visit you and when. This can help a great deal in preparing for their visit.

You can also check the tables above to give you a good idea of when to expect them in your garden.

Here are a few things you can look our for to ensure you’re ready for arriving hummingbirds:

  • It might seem obvious, but pay attention to those first signs of spring. As you see plants begin to bloom and trees showing signs of blossoming, you should think about cleaning up and preparing your feeder.
  • Other birds can also give you a clue about when hummingbirds might start to arrive. Once again a local group can tell you which birds to look out for, but warblers and buntings are two which can signal that migration is underway.
  • Keep a journal and make a note every year of when you see your first hummingbird. This may vary slightly but it will give you an excellent reference. Hummers are very predictable when they migrate, so your journal should be accurate within a few days.

The best time to try to put your feeder out is about 2 weeks before you think the hummingbirds are due to arrive. This means you can catch any hummers which might come back a bit earlier. It’s better to put your feeder out early and replace the sugar water because it’s not used, than risk missing out on feeding them altogether.

It has been known for hummingbirds to arrive before flowers are in full bloom, and this is when your early feeder could be a lifeline. They depend on sugar, so if you provide a reliable source, they know they can feed when they need to – and that’s several times every hour.

However, if the nights are still cold and the nectar might freeze, take the feeder in at night and replace it first thing in the morning.

when to stop feeding hummingbirds

Maintaining Your Feeder

Now that your feeder is out and filled with nectar, you need to maintain it to ensure that the hummingbirds feed from it throughout their visit. They start to head back south during late summer to early fall and they will need a regular supply of nectar while they are visiting your garden.

The feeder should be taken apart and cleaned at least once a week. Don’t use hard cleaners or strong bleach, and rinse all the parts thoroughly to get rid of any soap residue. Remove all remaining sugar water and pour boiling water through the feeding ports to clean out any build up of nectar.

The sugar water should be replaced every few days, even if it has not been used. Older nectar can start to go moldy quickly, particularly if the weather is warm. The birds will not touch moldy or old nectar, so it’s important to keep them constantly supplied with fresh sugar water.

If there is still nectar in the feeder, don’t top it up. Pour it out and fill the feeder up with fresh nectar. If the water already in the feeder is starting to go moldy, it will affect the fresh water you add. Mold can be harmful to hummingbirds, so always be aware of any discoloration of the water.

Hummingbirds also don’t like water full of dead insects so if you see this, pour it out and refill it the feeder. Ants can be a problem so add a moat to your feeder if it doesn’t already have one, and make sure this is topped up with water. In warmer weather the water in the moat can evaporate away very quickly.

At the end of the hummingbird season, take your feeder down and give it a good clean before you pack it safely away for next year.

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