The onset of fall means the beginning of cooler temperatures for much of the United States. For birding enthusiasts, this is significant because it triggers the migration of many bird species, including the hummingbird.
Of the 12 hummingbird species that spend the spring and the summer in the U.S., most will head back to Mexico or Central America for the winter. One of the exceptions is the Anna’s Hummingbird, which spends the winter in the warm deserts of California and Arizona.
Many hummingbirds will spend their last few days in the U.S. stocking up on nectar for the long and fatiguing journey south. Hummingbirds fly at speeds in excess of 30 miles-per-hour and some hummingbirds have a marathon journey in front of them, as many cross hundreds of miles of the Gulf of Mexico in one trip.
For bird enthusiasts, who have spent the entire summer reveling in the presence of hummingbirds, the migration period can be a jarring experience.
“The hummingbirds’ departure always leaves the backyard birder feeling a touch melancholy.” writes Geordon T. Howell, the outdoor columnist for the Daily News in Bowling Green, KY. Howell was joined throughout the summer by a trio of ruby-throated hummingbirds
Margaret Hailey of the Daily News in Schenetady, NY, also recently mused on the departure of hummingbirds as a telltale sign that fall has arrived.
Vickie Henderson, a wildlife photographer, used the hummingbird migration as inspiration for a beautiful series of pictures that explore hummingbird life.
If you feel down and out because your hummingbirds have vanished, one good way to cure the blues is to get ready for next year by learning more about hummingbirds or even purchasing a new hummingbird feeder.