Hummingbird Migration in Minnesota

When Do Hummingbirds Arrive in Minnesota?

Minnesota migrating hummingbirds begin arriving in late April on their journey north to their preferred nesting area, somewhere near their own birth. The last of the Minnesota spring migrating hummingbirds are gone in June.

This time frame is supported by Minnesota Conservation Volunteer.

Migrating hummingbirds, including the Ruby-throated, continue their way north into the eastern half of the United States all the way into Canada.

Beginning their northern journey from as far away as Panama or as close as Mexico, migrating hummingbirds arrive in Minnesota as early as April but by early July, all migrating hummingbirds are gone from Minnesota.

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 male, 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 4,116 miles to reach Minnesota.

Hummingbirds starting their journey from Mexico need to fly about 1,679 miles to reach Minnesota.

The only hummingbirds that live and nest in Minnesota are Ruby-throated hummingbirds, all other hummingbirds seen in Minnesota are just passing through to their nesting destination.

Even though Ruby-throated hummingbirds live and nest in Minnesota, some of them also will be just passing through Minnesota to their own personal nesting destination of choice.

The Ruby-throated hummingbird’s breeding range includes the entire eastern half of the United States from southern Texas into Canada.

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, the 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, on consecutive days, per brood.

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 Minnesota, 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 Minnesota?

Hummingbird enthusiasts in Minnesota should put out hummingbird feeders in mid-April to attract the earliest arriving migrating hummingbirds.

Some Minnesota admirers leave hummingbird feeders up all winter long to provide life-nourishing nectar to Minnesota year-round resident the Ruby-throated hummingbird.

Although the Ruby-Throated hummingbird is reportedly a year-round resident, in the winter there are only a few brave souls that over-winter in Minnesota, so don’t expect to see any at your feeder.

If you do see a hummingbird at your feeder in the winter enjoy the special sighting. Take a picture and share it online.

This selfless act of keeping hummingbird feeders up in Minnesota winters also provides nectar to other migrating species unable to migrate because of injury or old age.

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

How Long Do Hummingbirds Stay in Minnesota?

The first north migrating hummingbirds arrive in Minnesota in April and the last south migrating hummingbirds in the fall to leave Minnesota are gone by September.
Some Ruby-throated hummingbirds stay in Minnesota year-round, although rare. 

Minnesota year-round residents, the Ruby-throated hummingbird or hummingbirds too old or injured to migrate, will be the only hummingbirds Minnesota hummingbird enthusiasts will see during the winter.

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

The only hummingbirds Minnesotans will see during the hot summer months will be the year-round hummingbird residents.

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

When Do Hummingbirds Leave Minnesota?

Minnesota migrating hummingbirds begin leaving the state as early as August migrating south to their over-wintering areas in Mexico and Central America. Migrating hummingbirds will all be gone from Minnesota by September.

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.

The only hummingbirds Minnesotans will see during the winter are the year-round Ruby-throated hummingbirds and possibly some migrating hummingbirds that are too old or injured to migrate.

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 her offspring to the ability to migrate themselves.

How Long Does It Take a Minnesota Hummingbird to Migrate?

It takes a Minnesota hummingbird about 56 Hours of flying at its average migrating flight speed of 30mph to fly from Minnesota to the Mexican border 1,679 Miles 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 Minnesota during this fall migration beginning in August. Migrating Minnesota hummingbirds are gone from the state by the end 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 area in Mexico and Central America.

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

When To Take Down Hummingbird Feeder in Minnesota?

The best time to take down hummingbird feeders in Minnesota for the winter is mid-October or when there have been no consistent hummingbirds at the feeders for a couple of weeks.
Feeders can be up all winter to feed Minnesota year-round residents and those 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 Minnesota year-round hummingbirds, the Ruby-throated hummingbird, as well as life-saving 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 Minnesota Hummingbirds Go in The Winter?

Minnesota 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 Minnesota: (Pictures and Sounds)

Happy Hummingbird Watching!

Adult Male Ruby-throated Hummingbird
Photo by: MaryLou Ziebarth
Taken: Two Harbors, Minnesota

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.

Recent Posts