Hummingbird Migration in Utah

When Do Hummingbirds Arrive in Utah?

Utah’s 10 migrating hummingbirds begin arriving as early as March and continue north to their preferred nesting area, somewhere near their own birth.
The last of the spring migrating hummingbirds are gone by mid-June, however, many will stay in Utah for the rest of the summer.

Utah has two year-round residents; the Anna’s and Costa’s hummingbirds.

What Are The Most Common Hummingbirds Seen In Utah?

The most common hummingbirds seen in Utah are the Black-chinned and Broad-tailed hummingbirds.
On average, out of 10,000 hummingbird sightings in Utah, 4,877 (49%) will be Black-chinned hummingbirds.
On average, out of 10,000 hummingbird sightings in Utah, 3,190 (32%) will be Broad-tailed hummingbirds.

Sighting Maps:
Black-chinned hummingbird sightings in Utah
Broad-tailed hummingbird sightings in Utah

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

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.

Calliope hummingbirds will probably be the first migrating hummingbirds to arrive in Utah.

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 2,900 miles to reach the center of Utah.

Hummingbirds starting their journey from the Mexican border need to fly about 800 miles to reach the center of Utah.

What Hummingbirds Breed and Nest in Utah?

Utah has four hummingbirds that breed and nest in Utah:

  • Black-chinned hummingbirds, the most common hummingbird seen in Utah.
  • Broad-tailed hummingbirds, the second most common hummingbird seen in Utah.
  • Calliope hummingbirds, they will be the first to arrive in March.
  • Costa’s Hummingbirds.

See breeding maps for hummingbirds that breed and nest in Utah:
Black-chinned Hummingbirds
Broad-tailed Hummingbirds

Calliope Hummingbirds
Costa’s Hummingbirds

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. There the female builds a nest, mates, and raises a family.

Once the female hummingbird reaches the breeding grounds the focus turns to building a nest and then finding a partner with which to mate.

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)

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.

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 timing and day-length time in their nesting destinations, some hummingbirds can have more than 2 broods per year.

In Utah, 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 Utah?

Utah hummingbird enthusiasts should put out hummingbird feeders on the first of March to attract the earliest arriving migrating hummingbirds.
Many leave their hummingbird feeders up all year for the cold-tolerant hummingbirds that may over-winter in Utah, or for the old or injured unable to migrate.

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 Utah after mid-June will be hummingbirds that will spend their entire summer in Utah.

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 Utah?

Some Anna’s and Costa’s hummingbirds live in Utah year-round.
Utah’s migrating hummingbirds will start arriving in March and most will be gone by October.
Some hummingbirds that usually migrate may choose to over-winter in Utah, but most will migrate south for the winter.

Hummingbirds are much more tolerant than most people believe.
According to eBird.org, some banded hummingbirds have been documented in temperatures of -9 degrees Fahrenheit with a wind chill of -36 degrees Fahrenheit.

Besides Utah’s year-round residents, the Anna’s and Costa’s, some normally migrating seasonal hummingbirds choosing to over-winter in Utah, or too old or injured to migrate, will be the only likely hummingbirds Utahan 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 to southern migration in the fall.
See my article: Hummingbird Adaptation and Remarkable Ability to Locate Food

The most common hummingbirds Utahans will see during the hot summer months will be the Black-chinned hummingbirds with the Broad-tailed hummingbirds being a close 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 Utah?

Utah’s migrating hummingbirds begin leaving the state in September.
Most of Utah’s migrating hummingbirds are gone by the end of October but a few stragglers might stay until the end of the year.
Some Anna’s and Costa’s hummingbirds live in Utah year-round.

The older hummingbirds will be the first to start the fall migration with the youngest hummingbirds finishing the fall migration, according to an article from University of Southern Mississippi.

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 migrating hummingbirds Utahans will possibly see during the winter are 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.
The new fledglings will be the last to leave.

How Long Does It Take an Utah Hummingbird to Migrate?

It takes a Utah hummingbird about 27 hours of flying at its average migrating flight speed of 30 mph to fly from Utah to the most distant Mexican border 800 miles away.
Hummingbirds migrating to Panama 2,900 miles away, will need to fly 97 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 Utah during this fall migration from September 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 Should I Take Down Hummingbird Feeders in Utah?

The best time to take down hummingbird feeders for the winter in Utah is in early December or when no hummingbirds have been seen at the feeders for a couple of weeks.
Many Utahans leave feeders up all winter to feed year-round residents and over-wintering hummingbirds too old or injured to migrate.

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

Some Utah hummingbird admirers leave hummingbird feeders up all winter long to provide life-nourishing nectar to Utahans most likely winter residents, Anna’s and Costa’s hummingbirds, as well as some seasonal hummingbirds that choose to stay in Utah for the winter.

Most migrating hummingbirds will not spend the winter in Utah and will decide to migrate south for the winter.

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.

Hummingbirds are much more tolerant of cold temperatures than most people realize.

According to eBird.org, some banded hummingbirds have been documented in temperatures of -9 degrees Fahrenheit with a wind chill of -36 degrees Fahrenheit.
See my article:  3 Reasons Why Hummingbirds Are Banded

Taking hummingbird feeders down mid-winter during episodes of below-freezing temperatures 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 Utah Hummingbirds Go in The Winter?

Utah migrating hummingbirds travel south to over-winter in Mexico, Guatemala, Belize, Honduras, El Salvador, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, and Panama.
Some Utah resident hummingbirds, Anna’s and Costa’s hummingbirds, remain in Utah 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 Utah: (Pictures and Sounds)

Happy Hummingbird Watching!

Male Black-Chinned Hummingbird
Photo by: bird.whisperer
Taken: Utah County, Utah
Male Broad-Tailed Hummingbird
Photo by: bird.whisperer
Taken: Springville, Utah

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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