Deciding when to hang a hummingbird feeder depends on the type of hummingbird you are hoping to attract and your geographic location. Most hummingbirds are migratory, so it’s important to hang feeders when you expect the hummingbirds to be in your area. Migration maps are a great way to predict when hummingbirds will be arriving in your region; several Web sites have migration maps available. Remember to hang the feeder around ten days before you expect the hummingbirds to arrive in case you have some “early birds.” If you hang a feeder every year, many hummingbirds will come to your window looking for the feeder year after year.
Ruby-throated hummingbirds are the most common species in the eastern United States. They visit the eastern U.S. and southern Canada between February and May. They follow a northern track from Mexico, so residents of the southernmost U.S. should start hanging feeders by early March. The farther north you are, the later you can hang your feeder. Most people hang their feeders around the beginning of April.
There are many types of hummingbirds found in the western United States. The black-chinned, calliope and broad-tailed hummingbirds migrate from Mexico around March and continue to British Columbia by May. Rufous hummingbirds begin their migration in February and travel to Alaska by the end of April. Costa’s hummingbirds travel between February and May and only reach southern California, Nevada, Utah and Arizona.
The most common hummingbird in southern California is Anna’s hummingbird. Anna’s hummingbirds can also be found in Oregon, Washington and parts of Canada. It is not a migratory species, so feeders can be hung year-round.
There are some sources you may choose to consult for further information on hummingbird migration patterns. The Birds-N-Garden Web site maintains a list of hummingbird sightings from visitors in the U.S. and Canada, and another resource is your local Audubon Society.