Hummingbird Migration in Idaho

When Do Hummingbirds Arrive in Idaho?

Idaho migrating hummingbirds begin arriving mid-April through the first week of May on their journey north to their preferred nesting area, somewhere near their own birth. The last of the Idaho spring migrating hummingbirds are gone by mid-May, however, many will stay in Idaho for the rest of the summer.

Migrating hummingbirds, including the Black-chinned, Broad-tailed, Calliope and Rufous, continue their way north into the eastern half of the United States.

Beginning their northern journey from as far away as Panama or as close as Mexico, migrating hummingbirds arrive in Idaho in mid-April, some very early migrators may arrive a few days earlier, but by the end of May, all migrating hummingbirds are gone from Idaho.

The first migrating hummingbirds will be males followed by the females about a week later. The males arrive first to stake out his territory that he will defend as he tries to attract a female.

Keep your eye out for the brightly colored gorget of the males, the females will start showing up at your feeders about a week later.

See my article: How to Identify a Hummingbird’s Gender in 4 Easy Steps

Hummingbirds starting their spring migration from Panama need to fly about 4,350 miles to reach Idaho.

Hummingbirds starting their journey from Mexico need to fly about 2,000 miles to reach Idaho.

  • The common summer breeding residents to Idaho are:
  • Black-chinned hummingbird.
  • Broad-tailed hummingbird.
  • Calliope hummingbird.
  • Rufous hummingbird.

All other hummingbirds seen in Idaho are just passing through to their nesting destination.

Source: United States Department of Agriculture (USDA)

While Broad-billed, Costa’s, and Ruby-throated hummingbirds are occasionally seen in Idaho, they do not nest in Idaho.

According to Kootenai National Wildlife Refuge, Black-chinned, Calliope and Rufous hummingbirds migrate to Kootenai to breed during spring and summer migration.

The entire reason for northern migration, much like salmon swimming upstream to their place of birth to lay eggs, is to return to the area where they were born to mate, build a nest, and raise a family.

Once the breeding grounds have been reached, focus turns to finding a partner with which to mate.

Each species of male hummingbirds has its own unique mating dance ritual of courtship to attract a female. They do perfectly choreographed dives and dance maneuvers to attract a flirty female.

See my article: Hummingbird Dance: 5 Interpretive Explanations

There is no penetration during the mating ritual as male hummingbirds do not have any external sexual organs.

The mating process only lasts for approximately 3-5 seconds while the cloacae (kloh-ay-see) of both hummingbirds are pressed together in what is called the “Cloacal Kiss” (kloh-a-coal kiss).

After the Cloacal kiss, the female must begin building the nest immediately.

Female hummingbirds prefer building nests 10 to 20 feet off the ground in deciduous trees.

It will take her between 5 and 7 days to construct the nest of materials such as plant down, moss, and fine plant fibers, decorated with lichens and held together by spider webs.

See my article: Hummingbird Parents: (Mating to Nesting)

See my article: Baby Hummingbirds: (Egg to Fledgling)

Hummingbirds usually lay 2 eggs per brood, one each on consecutive days.

Most hummingbirds have 2 broods per year, but depending on migration time and day length in their nesting destinations, some hummingbirds can have more than 2 broods per year.

In Idaho, nesting hummingbirds usually have 2 broods per year but some have time to work in a third brood.

When Should I Put Out Hummingbird Feeders in Idaho?

Hummingbird enthusiasts in Idaho should put out hummingbird feeders in the last week of March to attract the earliest arriving migrating hummingbirds.

Some Idaho hummingbird admirers leave hummingbird feeders up all winter long to provide life-nourishing nectar to Idaho’s only documented year-round resident, the Anna’s hummingbird. This selfless act also provides nectar to other migrating species unable to migrate because of injury or old age.

Boise State University is excited and so is their community about the ever-increasing sightings of Anna’s hummingbirds in Idaho during the winter through banding practices. They are now up to 200 winter sightings per year and have a web page for Idaho hummingbird enthusiasts to report their winter sightings.

See my article: 11 DIY Ways to Keep Hummingbird Nectar From Freezing

See my article:  3 Reasons Why Hummingbirds Are Banded

How Long Do Hummingbirds Stay in Idaho?

The first hummingbirds that migrate north arrive in Idaho in mid-April and the last hummingbirds that migrate south leave Idaho in the fall and are gone by mid-October.
Anna’s hummingbirds are documented by Boise State University as staying in Idaho all winter.

Summer Months:

Idahoans might see any one of the eight species of hummingbirds at their feeders:

  • Anna’s
  • Black-chinned
  • Broad-tailed
  • Calliope
  • Rufous
  • Ruby-throated
  • Broad-billed
  • Costa’s

Hummingbirds have exceptional memories and will remember every flower or feeder they visited on the spring migration and will return to those nectar sources on their return southern migration in the fall.

See my article: Hummingbird Adaptation and Remarkable Ability to Locate Food

When the obstacles of summer heat are difficult to manage and unbearable, finding ways to keep your hummingbirds happy and hydrated with cool nectar can be critical.

See my article: How to Help Hummingbirds in Hot Weather

Winter Months:

The rarely seen Anna’s hummingbird, seen a couple hundred times per year, or hummingbirds too old or injured to migrate, will be the only hummingbirds Idahoan hummingbird enthusiasts will see during the winter.

When Do Hummingbirds Leave Idaho?

Idaho’s migrating hummingbirds begin leaving the state as early as September, migrating south to their over-wintering areas in Mexico and Central America. Migrating hummingbirds will all be gone from Idaho by mid to late October.
Some Anna’s stay all winter long.

This elongated migration time frame ensures late straggling migrants have enough food available to fuel their bodies before making the long taxing migration south for the winter.

Hummingbird migration is triggered by the circadian (internal daily clock) and the circannual (yearly internal clock) rhythm.

Changes in the weather, temperature, time of the season, the decline in the food supply, and decreased amount of sunlight because of shortening days are all factors that trigger an individual hummingbird’s instinct to migrate.

As with spring migration, male hummingbirds are the first to begin the southern migration in the fall. The female migrating hummingbirds will begin their southern fall migration as soon as they have completed raising their offspring to the ability to migrate themselves.

How Long Does It Take an Idaho Hummingbird to Migrate?

It takes an Idaho hummingbird about 67 hours of flying at its average migrating flight speed of 30mph to fly from Idaho to the Mexican border 2,000 miles away.
Some fly at the relaxed distance as slow as 1 hour per day, others fly up to 500 miles non-stop in about 20 hours as some do while migrating across the Gulf of Mexico.

Hummingbirds do not migrate in flocks as do other migrating birds.
Hummingbirds migrate individually on their own personal time clock.

This staggered migration pattern ensures resources are not consumed and depleted all at one time.

As migration approaches, hummingbirds routinely gain 25% to 50% of their body weight by consuming increased quantities of nectar from feeders and flowering plants as well as catching an increased quantity of bugs mid-air for protein.

This increase in body fat helps fuel the hummingbird on its long migration journey.

Expect to see an increased volume of hummingbird visitors to your feeders in Idaho during fall migration at the beginning of September.

The hummingbirds that visited your feeders during the spring migration will remember exactly where your feeder is located and will most likely revisit that same feeder on their way to their over-wintering destination in Mexico and Central America.

See my article: Hummingbird Adaptation and Remarkable Ability to Locate Food

When To Take Down Hummingbird Feeder in Idaho?

The best time to take down hummingbird feeders in Idaho for the winter is the first of November or when there have been no consistent hummingbirds at the feeders for a couple of weeks.
Feeders can be up all winter to feed Idaho’s only year-round resident, the Anna’s hummingbird, or Idaho’s migrating hummingbirds too old or injured to migrate.

The dilemma every hummingbird enthusiast struggles with every year is leaving the hummingbird feeders up all year or taking them down during winter.

See my article: Should I Keep My Hummingbird Feeder Out During the Winter?

Hummingbird enthusiasts that leave hummingbird feeders up all winter provide much-welcomed nutrition for migrating hummingbirds too old or injured to migrate.

Taking hummingbird feeders down mid-winter could be fatal for migrating hummingbirds too old or injured to migrate.

See my article: 11 DIY Ways to Keep Hummingbird Nectar From Freezing

Where Do Idaho Hummingbirds Go in The Winter?

Idaho’s migrating hummingbirds travel south to over-winter in Mexico, Guatemala, Belize, Honduras, El Salvador, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, and Panama.

All hummingbirds have excellent memories and can remember every flower or feeder they visited during spring migration and will return to those locations along their migration pathway year after year.

Some hummingbirds have been documented returning to a feeder for a couple of years after it was removed.

See my article: Hummingbird Adaptation and Remarkable Ability to Locate Food

See my article: Hummingbirds Found in Idaho: (Pictures and Sounds)

Happy Hummingbird Watching!

Adult Male Calliope Hummingbird
Photo by: sony_alpha_male
Taken: Boise, Idaho

Elizabeth Donaldson

Hi Everyone! I have always been fascinated and amazed by the skill, strength, and beauty of hummingbirds. I hope this article answered your questions.

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