Hummingbird Migration in Ohio

When Do Hummingbirds Arrive in Ohio?

Ohio migrating hummingbirds begin arriving in late March and continue north to their preferred nesting area, somewhere near their own birth.
The last of the spring migrating Ohio hummingbirds are gone by mid-June, however, many will stay in  Ohio for the rest of the summer.

Ohio migrating hummingbirds, including the most common Ohio hummingbird, the Ruby-throated hummingbird, continue their way north into Canada and eastward into all the New England states.

Beginning their northern journey from as far away as Panama or as close as Mexico, migrating hummingbirds arrive in Ohio in late March, some late migrators may arrive as late as mid-May, but by the end of June, all hummingbirds that are migrating further than Ohio are gone from Ohio.

The first migrating hummingbirds will be males followed by the females about a week later. The males arrive first to stake out the territory that they will defend as they try 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 2,200 miles to reach Ohio.

Hummingbirds starting their journey from Mexico need to fly about 1,500 miles to reach Ohio.

What Hummingbirds breed and nest in Ohio?

  • Ruby-throated Hummingbird

(Click link to see breeding map)

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 hummingbird 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 Ohio, nesting hummingbirds usually have 2 broods per year but some may have time to work in a third brood.

When Should I Put Out Hummingbird Feeders in Ohio?

Ohio hummingbird enthusiasts should put out hummingbird feeders in mid-March to attract the earliest arriving migrating hummingbirds.

Male hummingbirds will be the first to arrive followed by female hummingbirds about a week later.

Migrating hummingbirds will continue to arrive until about mid-June.
Hummingbirds seen in Ohio after mid-June will be hummingbirds that will spend their entire summer in Ohio.

Be sure to fill your hummingbird feeders with good quality nectar solutions, making your own feeder nectar is best.
See my article: Forget Commercial Hummingbird Food, Try Making Homemade Nectar
See my article: The One Thing You Need to Eliminate From a Hummingbird’s Diet

How Long Do Hummingbirds Stay in Ohio?

Ohio’s early migrating hummingbirds will start arriving the first week of March and will be gone by October.
Some Ruby-throated and Rufous hummingbirds, that usually migrate, may choose to over-winter in Ohio, but most will migrate south for the winter.
Other hummingbirds seen in Ohio during the winter will be those too old or injured to migrate.

Hummingbirds have a much greater tolerance to cold temperatures than one would imagine.

eBird.org reports that through branding in Wisconsin, the Rufous and Ruby-throated hummingbirds have been documented surviving in temperatures of  -9F and wind chills of -36F.

Ruby-throated, Rufous, and some normally migrating seasonal hummingbirds choosing to over-winter in Ohio, or hummingbirds too old or injured to migrate will be the only likely hummingbirds Ohioan hummingbird enthusiasts will see during the winter.

The most likely migrating hummingbird that might choose to spend the winter in Ohio would be a Ruby-throated or Rufous hummingbird.

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 to southern migration in the fall.
See my article: Hummingbird Adaptation and Remarkable Ability to Locate Food

The most common hummingbirdsOhioans will see during the hot summer months will be a Ruby-throated hummingbird with the Rufous hummingbird being a distant second.

When the obstacles of the 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 Ohio?

Ohio migrating hummingbirds begin leaving the state in late August, migrating south to their over-wintering areas in Mexico and Central America.
Ohio Migrating hummingbirds will all be gone by the end of October.

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.

Some hummingbirds Ohioans may see during the winter are possibly a Ruby-throated or Rufous hummingbird or 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 their offspring to the ability to migrate themselves.

How Long Does It Take an Ohio Hummingbird to Migrate?

It takes an Ohiohummingbird about 51 hours of flying at its average migrating flight speed of 30mph to fly from  Ohio to the most distant Mexican border 1,500 miles away.
Hummingbirds migrating to Panama 2,200 miles away, will need to fly 73 hours.

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 southern migrating hummingbird visitors to your feeders in Ohio during this fall migration from August through October.

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 Feeders in Ohio?

The best time to take down hummingbird feeders for the winter in Ohio is mid-November or when no hummingbirds have been seen at the feeders for a couple of weeks.
Many Ohioans leave feeders up all winter to feed over-wintering hummingbirds and those too old or injured to migrate.

The dilemma hummingbird enthusiast struggles with every year is whether to leave the hummingbird feeders up all year or take them down during the winter.

Some Ohiohummingbird admirers leave hummingbird feeders up all winter long to provide life-nourishing nectar to Ohio’s only likely year-round residents, Ruby-throated and Rufous hummingbirds, as well as some vagrant hummingbirds that choose to stay in Ohio for the winter, namely the Calliope, Allen’s, or Black-chinned hummingbirds.

The selfless act of keeping hummingbird feeders up all winter 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
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 year-round, migrating, and hummingbirds too old or injured to migrate.

According to eBird.org, some hummingbirds have been documented surviving -9 degrees Fahrenheit with a wind chill factor of -36 degrees Fahrenheit.

Taking hummingbird feeders down mid-winter could be fatal to hummingbirds depending on these winter-time feeders.
See my article: 11 DIY Ways to Keep Hummingbird Nectar From Freezing

Where Do Ohio Hummingbirds Go in The Winter?

Ohio migrating hummingbirds travel south to over-winter in Mexico, Guatemala, Belize, Honduras, El Salvador, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, and Panama.
Ohio has no official resident hummingbirds, however, a few Ruby-throated or Rufous hummingbirds may choose to remain in Ohio over the winter.

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 Ohio: (Pictures and Sounds)

Happy Hummingbird Watching!

Adult Male Ruby-Throated Hummingbird
Photo by: Rekha Pawar
Taken: Ohio

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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