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|
|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|
|Rhode Island||Early April||November|
|South Carolina||Early March||December|
|West Virginia||Mid March||December|
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|
|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|
|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|
|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|
|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|
|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.
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.