Monday, November 25, 2019

Hummingbird season: When to put up & take down your feeders

Many people look forward to hummingbird season. Feeding and watching the antics of these hyperactive and sometimes pugnacious birds brings much joy.

But some questions come up about feeding hummingbirds. When should I put out my hummingbird feeders in the spring? When should I take down my hummingbirds in the fall? Can I keep my hummingbird feeder up through the winter? Should I?

This article answers those questions as well as tells you exactly when hummingbird season is in each state.



In this article:
Feeding hummingbirds
When to put up your hummingbird feeders
When to take down your hummingbird feeders for winter
Feeding hummingbirds in winter
Hummingbird season in each state (with chart)


Hummingbirds often arrive before we think they should. They arrive at different latitudes and different elevations depending upon average temperature that year. It can vary.

So here's a tip on when to put up your hummingbird feeders.

Put out hummingbird feeders when the first wildflowers bud along the river bottoms. Hang up your hummingbird feeders when the early daffodils bloom. Start feeding hummingbirds when the ornamental flowering cherries first bloom.


Photo of a female Anna's Hummingbird at a feeder
Anna's Hummingbird
Photo by Greg Gillson

Feeding hummingbirds


Feeding hummingbirds sugar water ("nectar") is a fun activity with very little downside. Keep the sugar to water ratio at 1 to 4 to mimic natural flower nectar. I discuss the hummingbird nectar recipe  in this article.

As long as you keep your hummingbird feeders clean, they are safe and helpful to our diminutive feathered friends. 

My recommendation is to fill the feeder with only what the hummingbirds drink completely in 3-5 days. Then always clean the feeders when refilling--never just top off a feeder. Clean and refill any time the nectar becomes cloudy or you notice any dark patches of mold inside.

[As an aside, I am really happy with my More Birds brand Ruby model hummingbird. It has 5 feeding ports in 10 ounces, so empties in 3-5 days with only 1 or 2 birds. It is easy to clean. It doesn't leak. It comes with a built-in ant moat. They have larger volumes, if you have more individual hummingbirds visiting your yard. Check these feeders out on the Amazon web site.]

Nectar, natural from flowers or that which you provide in your feeders, is not the only thing that hummingbirds eat. They also eat flying insects and spiders.

This means that if you stop feeding hummingbirds for any reason the hummingbirds will survive just fine. They won't die because you quit feeding them. They'll find food elsewhere.


When to put up your hummingbird feeders


Hummingbirds will surely appreciate having extra hummingbird food during the spring migration. Most hummingbirds migrate to southern climes in winter. They return very early in spring. Nights are still cold and they may even encounter snow or freezing temperatures. Very few flowers are in bloom and insect food is scarce. Yet here they are, following their instinctive innate migratory behavior. Your feeder can provide some needed energy to keep them going until they reach their final destination.

Thus, having your hummingbird feeders set up and out for the earliest migrants can really help them in spring. Hummingbirds don't all migrate at the same time. The angle of the sun on their wintering grounds triggers their hormones and eventually the urge to migrate turns into action. Weather they encounter on their travels may aid or hamper their travels.

In general, males migrate and arrive on their breeding grounds a week or two before the females. Males then set up and defend territories around food sources--flowers or even your hummingbird feeders. 

Females arrive and find the males. After mating, the females set up separate nesting territories and defend against other hummingbirds. The males take no part in nest building, incubating, or raising the young--the cad!

Within weeks the young are out of the nest and flying about. This is when visitors to your hummingbird feeders really increase. The young-of-the-year make up the bulk of hummingbirds at your feeder through late summer and fall.

Hang up your hummingbird feeders in spring a week before you expect the first birds to arrive. Then they'll be ready when the first migrants pass through.


When to take down your hummingbird feeders for winter


When do hummingbirds leave? In the West, male hummingbirds are done with their contribution to the next generation in early summer. By early July they have left the lowlands and head up into the mountains. There they find flowers blooming higher and higher as they make their way south in the mountains to southern Mexico for the winter.

"Where did all my hummingbirds go?" people ask. Mexico. Now you know. (Kind of kidding.)

But the young birds still hang around their nesting area. These will remain at your feeders through fall. They are joined by migrants from further north as weather changes and hormones impel them southward.

Hummingbirds in fall will feed from your feeders and gain energy for their migration. Your hummingbird feeders will not cause hummingbirds not to migrate. Hormones are greater than even free food.

"When do I stop feeding hummingbirds?" you may ask. You don't. Keep feeding them as long as they keep coming to your feeder.

Adult male hummingbirds usually leave in summer, months before the females and young. Keep your hummingbird feeders up until there are no more hummingbirds. 

Take your hummingbird feeders down for the winter two weeks after you see the last hummingbird. 

That way you may feed any late stragglers.


Feeding hummingbirds in winter


On the West Coast, from Vancouver, Canada southward through Baja, and into parts of Arizona, the Anna's Hummingbird is a resident species. There is no need to take your hummingbird feeders down in winter if you live there! In fact, Anna's Hummingbirds nest from late December into February!

Also, in the Southwest deserts, Costa's Hummingbirds remain in the United States during winter.
From Texas to Florida some hummingbirds of several species are rare winter visitors--especially near the coast. Keep feeding all winter as long as there are hummingbirds!

Is a late hummingbird just moving through, or will it stay to spend the winter? Hummingbird migration lasts into November. If you still have any hummingbirds by mid-December, they will likely remain through the winter. Such wintering birds may remain in place until March or April! Hurray!

To keep hummingbird feeders from freezing in winter you may place the feeder near an incandescent porch light that provides some heat. If that's not practical, bring the feeder into your home well after dark. Hummingbirds feed well after dusk on cold winter nights. Put the feeder out at dawn so that cold hummers have some room-temperature calories to warm up with on cold winter mornings.


Hummingbird season in each state


In this section I use real data from eBird to determine when regular hummingbirds are present in each state in the United States. Then you can know when to set up and take down your feeders based on birds in your area.

If I mention hummingbirds in winter then that species occurs regularly, even if very rarely. Most states have had several rare hummingbird species show up in winter over the years, but not regularly enough to mention or expect. But that rare hummingbird will only show up at your feeder if your feeder is set up with fresh nectar!

This chart summarizes the timing in the text that follows in the next section. It tells you exactly when to feed hummingbirds.


When to feed hummingbirds
State Put out Take down Comment
Alabama Early March December  
Alaska Early April September All year in SE
Arizona All year    
Arkansas Mid March December  
California All year    
Colorado Early April November  
Connecticut Early April November  
Delaware Early April November  
Florida All year    
Georgia All year    
Idaho Late March November  
Illinois Early April December  
State Put out Take down Comment
Indiana Early April December  
Iowa Mid April December  
Kansas Early April December  
Kentucky Mid March December  
Louisiana All year    
Maine Mid April November  
Maryland Early April December  
Massachusetts Early April December  
Michigan Early April November  
Minnesota Mid April November  
Mississippi Year round    
Missouri Early March January  
State Put out Take down Comment
Montana Early April November  
Nebraska Mid April December  
Nevada Early March December All year in W and S
New Hampshire Early April November  
New Jersey Mid March December  
New Mexico Late February December All year OK
New York Late March December  
North Carolina All year    
North Dakota Late April November  
Ohio Late March December  
Oklahoma Late March November  
Oregon All year    
State Put out Take down Comment
Pennsylvania Late March December  
Rhode Island Early April November  
South Carolina Early March December All year OK
South Dakota Late April November  
Tennessee Late March December  
Texas All year    
Utah Mid March November  
Vermont Early April November  
Virginia Early March December  
Washington Late March November All year in W
West Virginia Mid March December  
Wisconsin Early April November  
Wyoming Late April October  

Alabama

Ruby-throated Hummingbirds arrive in Alabama about the 2nd week of March and depart Alabama about the 1st week of November.

A few Ruby-throated Hummingbirds, Rufous Hummingbirds, and Black-chinned Hummingbirds winter rarely but regularly in Alabama.

Put out your hummingbird feeders in Alabama by the first week of March. Take them down in mid-November if you haven't seen any hummingbirds in 2 weeks.


Alaska

Rufous Hummingbirds arrive in Southeast and Southcentral Alaska the first week of April and depart at the end of August.

Anna's Hummingbirds are most common from late August to late April in Southeast and southcentral Alaska. They are less common in summer.

A few Costa's Hummingbirds have shown up as rarities in fall in Alaska.

Keep your hummingbird feeders up year round in Southeast and Southcentral Alaska.


Arizona

Check a range map or eBird for what hummingbirds are expected in your Arizona county. Many hummingbird species are found only in Southern or Southeastern Arizona.

Rivoli's Hummingbirds are year-round residents in Arizona.

Most of the Plain-capped Starthroats arrive in Southern Arizona the first week of July and depart in mid-September.

Blue-throated Mountain-gems are year-round residents in Southern Arizona.

Lucifer Hummingbirds arrive in Southern Arizona in the last week of March and remain until the first week of October.

Black-chinned Hummingbirds arrive in Arizona the first week of March and depart at the end of October.

Anna's Hummingbirds are year-round residents in Arizona.

Costa's Hummingbirds are year-round residents in Arizona.

Broad-tailed Hummingbirds arrive in Arizona the 1st week of March and depart the first week of November.

Rufous Hummingbirds migrate through Arizona in spring from mid-February to mid-May. Rufous-hummingbirds migrate through Arizona in fall from the 1st week of July to the first week of November.

Calliope Hummingbirds migrate through Arizona in spring from the last week of March until Mid-May. In fall Calliope Hummingbirds migrate through Arizona from mid-July to the first week of October.

Broad-billed Hummingbirds are year-round residents in Arizona.

Most Berylline Hummingbirds arrive in Southern Arizona in mid-July and depart the first week of September.

Violet-crowned Hummingbirds arrive in Southern Arizona the 2nd week of January and depart in mid-November.

White-eared Hummingbirds arrive in Southeastern Arizona the 2nd week of May and depart the first week of September.

If you live in Arizona keep a bunch of hummingbird feeders up year round!


Arkansas

Ruby-throated Hummingbirds arrive in Arkansas the last week of March and depart in the middle of November.

Seven rare hummingbirds have wintered in Arkansas, but none regularly.

Put up your hummingbird feeders in Arkansas by the middle of March. Take your hummingbird feeders down in December if you haven't seen any hummingbirds in 2 weeks.


Photo of a male Allen's Hummingbird on a flowering bush
Allen's Hummingbird
Photo by Greg Gillson

California

Black-chinned Hummingbirds arrive in California the last week of March and depart the last week of September.

Anna's Hummingbirds are year-round residents in California.

Costa's Hummingbirds are year-round residents in the deserts of Southern California.

Rufous Hummingbirds migrate through California in spring from mid-February to the 3rd week of May. Fall migration starts immediately; Rufous Hummingbirds migrate through California in fall from mid-June to the end of September.

Allen's Hummingbirds are resident in coastal Southern California. Elsewhere in coastal Central and Northern California, Allen's Hummingbirds arrive in mid-January and depart the 1st week of August.

Calliope Hummingbirds arrive in California the first week of April and depart in mid-August.
Residents of California should keep their hummingbird feeders up all year.


Colorado

Black-chinned Hummingbirds arrive in Colorado in mid-April and depart the 1st week of October.

Broad-tailed Hummingbirds arrive in Colorado the 2nd week of April and depart in mid-October.

Rufous Hummingbirds pass through Colorado in fall migration from late June through September.

Calliope Hummingbirds pass through Colorado in fall migration from the 1st week of July to the 3rd week of September.

Put your hummingbird feeders out in Colorado by the 1st of April. Take your feeders down in November if you haven't seen any hummingbirds in 2 weeks.


Connecticut

Ruby-throated Hummingbirds arrive in Connecticut in mid-April and depart in mid-October.

There are several reports of Rufous Hummingbirds in fall and winter.

Put your hummingbird feeders out in early April in Connecticut. Take your feeders down in November if you haven't seen a hummingbird in 2 weeks.


Delaware

Ruby-throated Hummingbirds arrive the first week of April in Delaware and depart in mid-October.

Put your hummingbird feeders out by April 1st in Delaware. Take your feeders down in November if you haven't seen any hummingbirds in 2 weeks.


Florida

Ruby-throated Hummingbirds are found year-round in Florida, more abundantly during the spring and fall migrations. Peak numbers are found from late March to mid-May and then again from the first week of June to the 1st week in November.

Many other hummingbirds have been reported in Florida. Black-chinned Hummingbirds and Rufous Hummingbirds have wintered.

Keep your hummingbird feeders up year-round in Florida.


Georgia

Ruby-throated Hummingbirds arrive the 2nd week of March in Georgia and most depart by November.

Ruby-throated Hummingbirds and Rufous Hummingbirds are rare but regular in winter. 

Black-chinned Hummingbirds and Calliope Hummingbirds are even more rare in winter in Georgia.

Keep your hummingbird feeders up all year in Georgia. If you haven't seen any hummingbirds for 3 weeks by mid-December, go ahead and take down your feeders until the beginning of March. Hummingbirds aren't likely to move around much in winter.


Hawaii

No hummingbirds live in Hawaii. But there are many other colorful tropical birds. Honeycreepers are nectar eaters, but apparently are only attracted to native flowers, not nectar feeders. Too bad, because most types are endangered and could use the help.


Idaho

Black-chinned Hummingbirds arrive in Idaho in early April and depart in mid-October.

Anna's Hummingbirds are rare visitors to Idaho. Some birds remain all year, but most are winter visitors. Most arrive in September and depart the 1st week of March.

Broad-tailed Hummingbirds arrive in late April and depart by the 3rd week of September.

Rufous Hummingbirds arrive the 2nd week of April and depart the 1st week of October.

Calliope Hummingbirds arrive the 1st week of April and depart in late September.

Put up your hummingbird feeders the end of March in Idaho. Take down your feeders about November 1st if you haven't had any hummingbirds in 2 weeks.


Illinois

Ruby-throated Hummingbirds arrive in Illinois the 2nd week of April and depart in late October.

Put up your hummingbird feeders in Illinois the 1st week of April. Take down your feeders by December if you haven't seen any hummingbirds in 2 weeks.


Indiana

Ruby-throated Hummingbirds arrive in Indiana about the 1st week of April and depart by the end of October.

Put up your hummingbird feeders in Indiana in late March. Take down your feeders in early December if you haven't seen any hummingbirds in 2 weeks.


Iowa

Ruby-throated Hummingbirds arrive in Iowa in late April and depart in late October.

Put up your hummingbird feeders in Iowa in mid-April. Take down your feeders in late November if you haven't seen any hummingbirds in 2 weeks.


Kansas

Ruby-throated Hummingbirds arrive in Kansas about the 2nd week of April and depart in late October.

Rufous Hummingbirds are rare fall migrants in Kansas, from July through September.

Put up your hummingbird feeders in Kansas in early April. Take your feeders down in late November if you haven't seen any hummingbirds in 2 weeks.


Kentucky

Ruby-throated Hummingbirds arrive in Kentucky the last week of March and depart by the end of November.

Rufous Hummingbirds winter rarely in Kentucky.

Put out your hummingbird feeders in Kentucky in mid-March. Take down your feeders by mid-December if you haven't seen any hummingbirds in 2 weeks.


Louisiana

The bulk of Ruby-throated Hummingbirds arrive in Louisiana the 1st week of March and depart by November. However, many also spend the entire winter.

Black-chinned Hummingbirds winter in Louisiana, arriving in September and remaining through April.

Broad-tailed Hummingbirds winter in Louisiana, most arrive in mid-November and depart in early February. Some arrive earlier and stay later.

Rufous Hummingbirds winter in Louisiana, arrive the 1st week of August and depart in April.

Calliope Hummingbirds winter in Louisiana, arrive in mid-November and depart in mid-April.

Buff-bellied Hummingbirds winter in Louisiana, arrive in mid-September and depart in April.

Keep your hummingbird feeders up all year in Louisiana!


Maine

Ruby-throated Hummingbirds arrive in Maine in mid-April and depart by late October.

Put your hummingbird feeders up in Maine the 2nd week of April. Take your feeders down in early November if you haven't seen a hummingbird in 2 weeks.


Maryland

Ruby-throated Hummingbirds arrive in Maryland in mid-April and depart by late October.

Rufous Hummingbirds sometimes winter in Maryland, arrive in September and depart in late April.

Put your hummingbird feeders out in Maryland in early April. Take your feeders down in late November if you haven't seen a hummingbird in 2 weeks.


Massachusetts

Ruby-throated Hummingbirds arrive in Massachusetts the 2nd week of April and depart in late November.

Put your hummingbird feeders out in Massachusetts by the 1st of April. Take your feeders down by the beginning of December if you haven't seen any hummingbirds in 2 weeks.


Michigan

Ruby-throated Hummingbirds arrive in Michigan in late April and depart mid-October.

Put your hummingbird feeders out in Michigan in early April. Take your feeders down in mid-November if you haven't seen any hummingbirds in 2 weeks.


Minnesota

Ruby-throated Hummingbird arrives in Minnesota in late April and departs in late October.

Put your hummingbird feeders out in Minnesota in mid-April. Take your hummingbird feeders down in mid-November if you haven't seen any hummingbirds in 2 weeks.


Mississippi

Ruby-throated Hummingbirds in Mississippi arrive in late February and depart in late December.

Occasional wintering hummingbirds in Mississippi include Ruby-throated, Black-chinned, Rufous, Calliope, and Buff-bellied.

Keep your hummingbird feeders up year-round in Mississippi. If you haven't seen any hummingbirds for 2 weeks in late December you may take your feeders down. Put them up in mid-February again.


Missouri

Ruby-throated Hummingbirds arrive in Missouri in late March and depart in late November.

Put your hummingbird feeders up in Missouri the 2nd week of March. Take your feeders down in mid-December if you haven't seen any hummingbirds for 2 weeks.


Montana

Black-chinned Hummingbirds arrive in Montana the 1st week of May and depart in late September.

Rufous Hummingbirds arrive in Montana the 2nd week of April and depart late September.

Calliope Hummingbirds arrive in Montana the 2nd week of April and depart in late September.

Broad-tailed Hummingbirds arrive the 1st week of May and depart in mid-September.

Ruby-throated Hummingbirds are rare fall migrants in Montana, primarily August and September.

Put your hummingbird feeders out in Montana the 1st week of April. Take your feeders down in early November if you haven't seen any hummingbirds in 2 weeks.


Nebraska

Ruby-throated Hummingbirds arrive in Nebraska in late April and depart the 3rd week of October.

Put up your hummingbird feeders in Nebraska the 3rd week of April. Take down your feeders in mid-November if you haven't seen any hummingbirds in 2 weeks.


Nevada

Anna's Hummingbirds are year-round residents in western and southern Nevada lowlands.

Costa's Hummingbirds are year-round residents in southern Nevada.

Black-chinned Hummingbirds arrive in Nevada in mid-March and depart the end of October.

Broad-tailed Hummingbirds arrive in Nevada in early March and depart in late September.

Calliope Hummingbirds arrive in Nevada in late March and depart at the end of September.

Rufous Hummingbirds migrate through Nevada in spring (2nd week of March through May) and fall (mid-June to mid-October).

If you live in lowlands of western or southern Nevada then keep your hummingbird feeders up all year round. 

Otherwise, put out your hummingbird feeders in Nevada in early March. Take down your feeders in mid-November if you haven't seen any hummingbirds in 2 weeks.


New Hampshire

Ruby-throated Hummingbirds arrive in New Hampshire the 2nd week of April and depart in mid-October.

Put up your hummingbird feeders in New Hampshire the first week of April. Take down your hummingbird feeders in mid-November in New Hampshire if you haven't seen any hummingbirds in 2 weeks.


New Jersey

Ruby-throated Hummingbirds arrive in New Jersey in late March and depart in early November.

Put out your hummingbird feeders in New Jersey in mid-March. Take down your feeders in New Jersey in early December if you haven't seen any hummingbirds in 2 weeks.


New Mexico

Black-chinned Hummingbirds arrive in New Mexico in early March and depart the 3rd week of November.

Broad-tailed Hummingbirds arrive in New Mexico in early March and depart in late November.

Rufous Hummingbirds are fall migrants in New Mexico, arriving in mid-June and departing in mid-November.

Calliope Hummingbirds are fall migrants in New Mexico, arriving the end of June and departing the end of October.

Anna's, Broad-tailed, and Rufous Hummingbirds winter occasionally in New Mexico.

Several rare species of hummingbirds are found in Southwestern New Mexico in summer and fall (some are found all year). These include Rivoli's, Blue-throated Mountain-gem, Lucifer, Broad-billed, Violet-crowned hummingbirds and others, even more rare.

Put up your hummingbird feeders in late February in New Mexico. Take down your feeders in late December if you haven't seen any hummingbirds in 2 weeks. However, since the chance for a wintering hummingbirds is high, you may want to keep your feeders up all year round.


New York

Ruby-throated Hummingbirds arrive in New York in early April and depart in mid-November.

Put out your hummingbird feeders in New York in late March. Take down your feeders in early December if you haven't seen any hummingbirds in 2 weeks.


North Carolina

Most Ruby-throated Hummingbirds arrive in North Carolina in late March and depart in mid-November. However, a good number of Ruby-throated Hummingbirds spend the entire winter.

No other hummingbird species regularly winter in North Carolina. However, 10 species of rare hummingbirds have wintered.

Keep your hummingbird feeders up year-round in North Carolina.


North Dakota

Ruby-throated Hummingbirds arrive in North Dakota the last week of April and depart the 1st week of October.

Put your hummingbird feeders out in North Dakota the 3rd week of April. Take down your feeders in mid-October if you haven't seen any hummingbirds in 2 weeks.


Ohio

Ruby-throated Hummingbirds arrive in Ohio the 1st week of April and depart in November.

Several rare hummingbirds have been found in Ohio from September through December.

Put out your hummingbird feeders in Ohio the last week of March. Take down your feeders in mid-December if you haven't seen any hummingbirds in 2 weeks.


Oklahoma

Ruby-throated Hummingbirds arrive in Oklahoma in the last week of March and depart in late October.

Black-chinned Hummingbirds arrive in Oklahoma the last week of March and depart the 3rd week of October.

Rufous Hummingbirds are fall migrants in Oklahoma, primarily mid-July to late September. However, there are several November records, too.

Put up your hummingbird feeders in Oklahoma the 3rd week of March. Take down your feeders in mid-November if you haven't seen any hummingbirds in 2 weeks.


Photo of a male Rufous Hummingbird at a feeder
Rufous Hummingbird
Photo by Greg Gillson

Oregon

Black-chinned Hummingbirds arrive in Oregon in mid-March and depart in mid-October.

Anna's Hummingbirds are year-round residents primarily in the western half of Oregon.

Rufous Hummingbirds arrive in Oregon in mid-February (coastally first; not until April in Eastern half of state) and depart in early November.

Allen's Hummingbirds arrive in extreme SW Oregon in mid-February and depart in early August.

Calliope Hummingbirds arrive in Oregon the 2nd week of March and depart in mid-October.

Keep your hummingbird feeders up year round in the western half of Oregon. Otherwise, in the eastern half of Oregon put up your hummingbird feeders the 1st week of April. Take down your feeders in mid-November if you haven't seen any hummingbirds in 2 weeks.


Pennsylvania

Ruby-throated Hummingbirds arrive in Pennsylvania the 1st week of April and depart in November.

Rare Rufous Hummingbirds are found occasionally, fall through winter, with a peak from the 2nd week of November to the 1st week of December.

Put up your hummingbird feeders in Pennsylvania  the last week of March. Take down your feeders in early December if you have not seen hummingbirds in 2 weeks.


Rhode Island

Ruby-throated Hummingbirds arrive in Rhode Island in the 2nd week of April and depart the 1st week of October.

Put out your hummingbird feeders in Rhode Island the 1st week of April. Take down your feeders the 1st week of November if you haven't seen any hummingbirds in 2 weeks.


South Carolina

Most Ruby-throated Hummingbirds arrive in South Carolina in mid-March and depart in mid-November. However, Ruby-throated Hummingbirds can be found in small numbers year-round.

Several rare hummingbirds may occasionally be found wintering in South Carolina. Most show up in November and may remain to early April. However, Rufous Hummingbirds may show up as soon as August and remain all winter and spring.

Keep your hummingbird feeders up all year in South Carolina. If you haven't seen any hummingbirds in 2-3 weeks by late December, you can probably take them down. Put up your hummingbird feeders again in early March.


South Dakota

Ruby-throated Hummingbirds arrive in South Dakota the 1st week of May and depart in mid-October.

Broad-tailed Hummingbirds arrive in South Dakota in mid-May and depart in late August.

Rufous Hummingbirds are rare fall migrants in South Dakota, arriving in mid-July and departing the 3rd week of September.

Put out your hummingbird feeders in South Dakota the last week of April. Take your feeders down the end of October if you haven't seen any hummingbirds in 2 weeks.


Tennessee

Ruby-throated Hummingbirds arrive in Tennessee the last week of March and most depart in mid-November.

Several rare hummingbirds arrive in early November and sometimes remain into December or January. 

Rufous Hummingbirds may arrive in mid-July and remain until mid-March.

Put up your hummingbird feeders in Tennessee during the 3rd week of March. Take your feeders down the 3rd week of December if you haven't seen any hummingbirds in 2 weeks.


Texas

Most Ruby-throated Hummingbirds arrive in Texas the 1st week of March and depart in early December. However, they also winter regularly in coastal Texas inland to Austin and San Antonio.

Most Black-chinned Hummingbirds arrive in Texas in early March and depart in mid-November. 

However they also winter regularly in coastal Texas inland to Austin and San Antonio.

Lucifer Hummingbirds arrive in the Big Bend and Davis Mountain areas of Texas in late February and depart in mid-December.

Broad-tailed Hummingbirds are found in Texas all year. However, they summer in the West and in fall and winter are found along the coast inland to Austin and San Antonio.

Rufous Hummingbirds migrate through Texas in early spring and fall. They winter coastally, inland to Austin and San Antonio. They are least common from April through June.

Buff-bellied Hummingbirds are year-round residents along the Texas coast inland to Austin and San Antonio.

There are numerous other rare hummingbirds in Texas throughout the year.

Keep your hummingbird feeders up all year in Texas.


Utah

Black-chinned Hummingbirds arrive in Utah the 3rd week of March and depart in mid-November.

Anna's Hummingbirds are year-round residents in Southwestern Utah.

Costa's Hummingbirds are year-round residents in Southwestern Utah.

Broad-tailed Hummingbirds arrive in mid-March and depart the 3rd week of October.

Rufous Hummingbirds are primarily fall migrants in Utah, late June to mid-October.

Calliope Hummingbirds arrive in early April and depart the 1st week of October.

Keep your hummingbird feeders up all year in Utah in the Southwest corner (near Las Vegas, Nevada). Elsewhere in Utah put out your hummingbird feeder the 2nd week of March. Take your feeders down in mid-November if you haven't seen any hummingbirds in 2 weeks.


Vermont

Ruby-throated Hummingbirds arrive in Vermont the 2nd week of April and depart the 3rd week of October.

Put out your hummingbird feeder in Vermont in early April. Take your feeders down in early December if you haven't seen any hummingbirds in 2 weeks.


Virginia

Ruby-throated Hummingbirds arrive in Virginia the 2nd week of March and depart in early December.

Put up your hummingbird feeders in Virginia in early March. Take your feeders down in mid-December if you haven't had any hummingbirds in 2 weeks.


Photo of a male Anna's Hummingbird on a branch
Anna's Hummingbird
Photo by Greg Gillson

Washington

Anna's Hummingbirds are year-round residents in the western half of Washington State.

Black-chinned Hummingbirds arrive in Washington in late April in the eastern half of Washington.

Rufous Hummingbirds arrive along the Washington coast in early February and depart from Washington in the end of October.

Calliope Hummingbirds arrive in Washington in the end of March and depart at the end of September.

Keep your hummingbird feeders out all year in the western half of Washington. 

In Eastern Washington put up your hummingbird feeders at the end of March. Take down your feeders in mid-October if you haven't seen any hummingbirds in 2 weeks.


West Virginia

Ruby-throated Hummingbirds arrive in West Virginia at the end of March and depart the 3rd week of October.

Rufous Hummingbirds arrive in mid-September and depart in mid-January.

Put up your hummingbird feeders in West Virginia in mid-March. Take your feeders down in mid-December if you haven't seen hummingbirds in 2 weeks.


Wisconsin

Ruby-throated Hummingbirds arrive in Wisconsin in the 2nd week of April and depart in late November.

Put up your hummingbird feeders in Wisconsin in early April. Take down your feeders in mid-December if you haven't seen any hummingbirds in 2 weeks.


Wyoming

Black-chinned Hummingbirds arrive in Wyoming the 1st week of May and depart the 3rd week of September.

Broad-tailed Hummingbirds arrive in Wyoming at the end of April and depart the end of September.

Rufous Hummingbirds are primarily a fall migrant in Wyoming from late June to mid-September.

Calliope Hummingbirds arrive in Wyoming the 1st week of May and depart the 3rd week of September.

Put up your hummingbird feeders in Wyoming the end of April. Take down your feeders the end of October if you haven't seen any hummingbirds in 2 weeks.




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Do you need an inexpensive pair of binoculars to view your hummingbirds at close range? I researched those under $100 and found 3 different ones that would work perfectly.  The best binoculars under $100 for backyard bird watching




Thursday, November 14, 2019

12 Best birding binoculars under $200: Birder selected!

[Updated July 13, 2020] 

You want to purchase binoculars for bird watching but you don't know who to trust! You want to purchase the best binoculars under $200.

This post was written and researched by a real birder--me! I've been birding over 45 years, sometimes with poor optics, so I know what birders need in binoculars. Here is my About Me page.

When you are doing your research for buying budget birding binoculars under $200 you may be led to reviews and recommendations made by people who are not birders. The reviewers tend to copy one another's lists--even for binoculars that are less than ideal for bird watching.

There was a time, not long ago, when getting decent bird watching binoculars for under $200 was not possible. There was no such thing as "best binoculars under 200 dollars." Things have improved. But there are still a lot of cheap models out there that say they are for birders, but they aren't very good. The ones listed here should work well for you and yet stay in your budget.

Here are my 12 choices for best bird watching binoculars under $200 for real birders--you! I'll tell you why below. [Plus 2 bonus binoculars under $230 to consider.] First, the list.

The best binoculars for bird watchers under $200 are these:
  • Wingspan SkyBirder 8x42
  • Celestron Nature DX ED 8x42  Recommended
  • Nikon ProStaff 3S 8x42
  • Vortex Crossfire 8x42  
  • Wingspan NaturePro HD 8x42
  • Wingspan SkyView 8x42 Recommended
  • Carson VP 8x42  
  • Bushnell Legend Ultra 10x42  Discontinued January 2020
  • Vanguard Spirit XF 10x42
  • Vortex Diamondback 8x28
  • Vortex Diamondback HD 8x32
  • Celestron Trailseeker 8x32
  • Opticron Discovery WP PC 8x32 (<$230)
  • Carson 3D 8x32 (<$230)


If I chose one of these as the best, it would be the Celestron Nature DX ED 8x42.

Compare today's price on Amazon

Compare today's price on Adorama

Read my in-depth review of the Celestron Nature DX ED 8x42 binocular





What makes a good birding binocular?


The 8x42 style is the best all-round full-sized birding binocular. That is 8-power magnification and an objective lens size of 42 millimeters. Dividing 8 into 42 gives 5.25mm of exit pupil (anything of 5 or over gives excellent brightness even in dim conditions, such as twilight or overcast winter days or in the deep dark woods! I've selected 7 of the best in this price range for you.

There are also a couple of 10x binoculars I picked out. They are not quite as bright in dim conditions (exit pupil 4.2mm), but magnify another 25% more than 8x binoculars. Sounds great (and it is), but that also means 25% more hand-shakiness magnification and a bit heavier, too. So be warned, more magnification isn't necessarily better for long days in the field. They also have narrower field of view, making it harder to find that movement in the canopy, or get on that lone swift flying far overhead. 10x binoculars, in general, have shorter eye relief--there are very few models suitable for eyeglass wearers. A final problem more magnification brings is that these binoculars will likely not have very good close focus. Butterflies at your feet or a bird in a nearby hedge may be too close to focus. If most of your birding is in open country, then these are a good choice.

There is one compact binocular I selected, an 8x28 model. These can be very dull in low light conditions (exit pupil 3.5mm). But they are good as a hiking binocular or something small to have as a binocular you always carry in your car's glove compartment. Or a pair for feeder watching out the window.

Finally, I've selected 4 mid-sized binoculars in the 8x32 range. Their exit pupil is 4.0mm. So in low-light conditions, comparing side-by-side with a good 8x42, they won't give quite as bright and colorful display. Most of the time you won't notice the difference. They use the same prisms and ocular lenses as their corresponding 8x42 brothers. So they generally are much better quality than the compact binoculars, while still having a smaller form factor and less weight--perfect for smaller hands.

In summary, a good birding binocular is 8x42 with wide field of view to see more birds (>390 feet @ 1000 yards), close focus for great view even in close bushes or window feeders (<8 feet), and longer eye relief for better view for eyeglass wearers (15.5-19 mm). Good exceptions include 10x42, 8x32, and a compact 8x28 with the above specs, depending upon use.

Which binoculars are best for birding at all prices? I compare over 80 models of birding binoculars and discuss all these specifications in more detail in this buying guide article.

A quick note: All binoculars here are for adults. Children less than 14 years old may have their eyes too close together to see with both binocular lenses at the same time. But see the Opricron Discovery WP PC 8x32. [See buying guide above under "Interpupilary Distance" and "Kids Binoculars."]



Wingspan SkyBirder 8x42

"Out of stock" in February 2020. Returning? (It's still on their web site.)

ED glass fully multicoated. BaK-4 prisms with phase corrected coatings. Waterproof/fog-proof. Nitrogen sealed. Limited lifetime warranty.

Field of view: 425 ft @1000 yards (very good)
Close focus: 6.6 ft (good)
Exit pupil: 5.25 mm (excellent)
Eye relief: 17.8 mm (very good)
Weight: 27 oz (okay)

Greg's comments: Full-sized 8x42 $150-200 range. Excellent optics. The specs are all good (especially wide field of view) but this is getting a bit on the heavier side. Compares favorably with the Bushnell Legend L Ultra. Replaces Wingspan CrystalView.





Celestron Nature DX ED 8x42

Recommended

ED glass. Fully multi-coated. Phase coated BaK-4 prisms. Rubber armored, polycarbonate body. Waterproof. Nitrogen-sealed. Limited lifetime warranty.

Field of view: 393 ft @1000 yards (good)
Close focus: 6.5 ft (good)
Exit pupil: 5.25 (excellent)
Eye relief: 17.8 mm (very good)
Weight: 24.9 oz (good)

Greg's comments: Full-sized 8x42 $100-150 range. The ED glass makes this the Best full sized 8x42 birding binocular under $200.

Check out my in-depth review of the Celestron Nature DX ED 8x42 binocular.





Check price at Adorama (affiliate link)



Nikon ProStaff 3S 8x42


Eco-Glass (lead-free, arsenic-free). Multi-layer coatings. Silver mirror coatings on prisms. Waterproof/fog-proof; nitrogen sealed. Polycarbonate body. Limited lifetime warranty.

Field of view: 378 ft @1000 yards (okay)
Close focus: 9.8 ft (okay)
Exit pupil: 5.25 mm (excellent)
Eye relief: 20.2 (excellent)
Weight: 19.9 oz (excellent)

Greg's comments: Full-sized $100-150 range. Optics properties aren't as good as others here. Excellent eye relief for eyeglass wearers. Field of view and close focus specs not as good as others in its class. Not bad. Just not quite as good.





Vortex Crossfire HD 8x42

HD glass. Fully multicoated. Waterproof/fog-proof; nitrogen-sealed. Unlimited and transferable lifetime warranty.

Field of view: 393 ft @1000 yards (good)
Close focus: 6 feet (very good)
Exit pupil: 5.25 mm (excellent)
Eye relief: 17 mm (good)
Weight: 23.8 oz (good)

Greg's comments: Full-sized 8x42 $100-150 range. Good value. Best close focus in its range (though barely).





Wingspan NaturePro HD 8x42

I communicated with Wingspan Optics and they said this binocular will restock in 2020.

Fully multicoated lenses. Phase corrected BaK-4 prism coatings. Waterproof/fog-proof; nitrogen sealed. Limited lifetime warranty.

Field of view: 430 ft @1000 yards (excellent)
Close focus: 6.6 ft (good)
Exit pupil: 5.25 mm (excellent)
Eye relief: 17.2 mm (good)
Weight: 22 oz (very good)

Greg's comments: Full-sized 8x42 $100-150 range. Excellent optics and specs, but HD glass, not the better ED glass. Widest field of view and lightest in this range. The wide field of view is very desirable in the full-sized 8x42 birding binocular in the $100-150 range. 





Wingspan SkyView Ultra HD 8x42

Recommended

ED glass. Fully mulitcoated. BaK-4 prisms. Phase coated. Waterproof/fog proof; nitrogen sealed. Limited lifetime warranty.

Field of view: 393 ft @ 1000 yards (good)
Close Focus: 6.6 ft (good)
Exit pupil: 5.25 mm (excellent)
Eye relief: 17.8 mm (very good)
Weight: 22 oz (very good)

Greg's comments: Full-sized 8x42 $150-200 range. Was unavailable for a while. Back in stock in February 2020. The ED glass makes this a good choice.






Carson VP 8x42

Fully multicoated. BaK-4 prisms. Phase coated. Waterproof/fog-proof; nitrogen sealed. No fault warranty.

Field of view: 393 ft @1000 yards (good)
Close focus: 6.6 ft (good)
Exit pupil: 5.25 mm (excellent)
Eye relief: 17 mm (good)
Weight: 24.6 oz (good)

Greg's comments: Full-sized 8x42 $100-150 range. Good optics, but lacks ED glass. Great value. The no-fault warranty is an added bonus.





Bushnell Legend Ultra 10x42

Discontinued (as of January 2020)

ED Prime glass. Fully multicoated optics. BaK-4 prisms. Waterproof. Limited lifetime warranty.

Field of view: 340 ft @1000 yards (okay)
Close focus: 8 ft (okay)
Exit pupil: 4.2 mm (good)
Eye relief: 18 mm (very good)
Weight: 23.5 oz (good)

Greg's comments: Full-sized 10x42 range. This 10 x binocular has good eye relief for eyeglass wearers and is light weight for 10x binocular. Best 10x binocular under $200. Buy it as long as it is available.





Vanguard Spirit XF 10x42

Fully multicoated lenses. BaK-4 prisms. Phase coated. Waterproof/fog-proof. Textured rubber armor. Premium lifetime warranty.

Field of view: 332 ft @1000 yards (okay)
Close focus: 6.9 ft (good)
Exit pupil: 4.2 mm (good)
Eye relief: 16mm (okay)
Weight: 23.5 oz (good)

Greg's comments: Full-sized 10x42 range. Good close focus. The eye relief is a bit short for eyeglass wearers. Narrow field of view as expected for 10x binoculars. Does NOT have ED glass.





Vortex Diamondback 8x28


HD glass. Fully multicoated. Dielectric prism coatings. Waterproof/fog-proof; argon sealed. Rubber armor. Lifetime warranty.

Field of view: 332 ft @1000 yards (okay)
Close focus: 6 ft (very good)
Exit pupil: 3.5 mm (okay)
Eye relief: 18 mm (very good)
Weight: 14 oz (excellent)

Greg's comments: Compact 8x28. Narrow field of view is typical for compact binoculars. Good for eyeglass wearers. The only compact binocular under $200 that I can recommend for birding.





Vortex Diamondback HD 8x32


HD glass. Fully multicoated. Dielectric prism coatings. Waterproof/fog-proof; argon sealed. Rubber armor. Lifetime warranty.

Field of view: 426 ft @1000 yards (very good)
Close focus: 5 ft (excellent)
Exit pupil: 4.0 mm (good)
Eye relief: 16 mm (okay)
Weight: 15.9 oz (excellent)

Greg's comments: Mid-sized 8x32 range. Excellent wide field of view and close focus. Eye relief is a bit short but should work for many eyeglass wearers. Best mid-sized 8x32 birding binocular under $200 if you DON'T wear eyeglasses.





Celestron Trailseeker 8x32


Fully multicoated. BaK-4 prisms with phase correcting and dielectric coatings. Magnesium alloy body. Limited lifetime warranty.

Field of view: 409 ft @1000 yards (very good)
Close focus: 6.5 ft (good)
Exit pupil: 4.0 mm (good)
Eye relief: 15.6 mm (okay)
Weight: 16 oz (excellent)

Greg's comments: Mid-sized 8x32 under $200 range. Eye relief is short; may not be suitable for some eyeglass wearers. It's a fine binocular.





Opticron Discovery WP PC 8x32


Fully multicoated optics. Phase corrected prisms. Waterproof. Nitrogen sealed. ABS plastic body. Limited lifetime warranty.

Field of view: 393 ft @1000 yards (good)
Close focus: 3.9 ft (excellent)
Exit pupil: 4.0 (good)
Eye relief: 17 mm (good)
Weight: 13.8 oz (excellent)
Interpupilary distance: 52 mm minimum (suitable for ages 7 to adult)

Greg's comments: Mid-sized 8x32 range. Amazing close focus. Very light weight. Best mid-sized 8x32 birding binocular under $230 for butterflies. Only kid-friendly binoculars in this group.





Carson 3D 8x32


HD glass. Fully multicoated. Phase coated BaK-4 prisms. Waterproof/fog-proof; nitrogen sealed. Rubberized armor coating. No fault warranty.

Field of view: 392 ft @1000 yards (good)
Close focus: 6.6 ft (good)
Exit pupil: 4.0 mm (good)
Eye relief: 19.5 (excellent)
Weight: 19.2 oz (excellent)

Greg's comments: Mid-sized 8x32 $180-230 range. Lacks ED glass. Excellent eye relief. Best mid-sized 8x32 birding binoculars under $230 for eyeglass wearers.





Conclusion


Keeping this post up-to-date and accurate has been challenging. Models in this price range seem to become unavailable regularly.

Today there are a plethora of binoculars under $200 claiming to be "bird watching binoculars." Most will not satisfy.

Originally I listed 14 models that are suitable for birding. Of those, I found 8 to recommend. Unfortunately, several became unavailable, some permanently so, some are supposed to be back in stock. I have since added 2 other models to consider.

Thus, as of July 2020, there are 2 binoculars here with nearly identical specs. These are the best cheap binoculars (I should say "best budget binoculars for birding") that are suitable for bird watching out-of-doors:
  • Celestron Nature DX ED 8x42
  • Wingspan SkyView Ultra HD 8x42
These are my choice for the best bird watching binoculars under $200.

Read my in-depth review of the Celestron Nature DX ED 8x42 binocular.

For those who want the higher 10-power binoculars then I can only recommend the discontinued Bushnell Legend Ultra 10x42. Buy it as long as it is available. Nothing else comes close in 10x binoculars under $200.

For a compact binocular to keep in the glove compartment or for hiking, there is only one binocular in this price range that is suitable, the Vortex Diamondback 8x28. In low light conditions (dusk, woods, gloomy day) it will not be as bright and colorful as a full-sized binocular.

The mid-sized 8x32 binoculars can be nice. But every one of those under $230 has some tradeoffs. I don't recommend any 8x32 binoculars under $230. In this price range it is best to stay with full-sized 8x42 binoculars.

Please note that I didn't find any binoculars under $100 that are well-suited as birding binoculars. For the most part, you have to give up waterproofing, wide field of view, close focus, wearing eyeglasses, or forgo decent optical glass once you go under $150. The best birding binoculars just cost more for better quality.

This video from BBR discusses the difference between cheap binoculars and more expensive ones. You can use some of the tips discussed to see for yourself some items that indicate poor build quality.





If you have a budget of $250 to $500 you can get significantly better binoculars. This jump in price gets you better optical quality and better build quality. Please see the list in my article the Best Bird watching binoculars under $500.



Tuesday, November 12, 2019

Do birds fly at night?

Many birds sleep at night, tucked away in some dense tree or bush. Likewise there are also birds that are awake and even flying around at night. There are several reasons birds fly at night. Birds fly at night for one or more of the following reasons:
  • They are nocturnal. They sleep during the day and are active at night, or
  • They are primarily diurnal but frequently forage at night, or
  • They are primarily diurnal but have been disturbed from their night time roost, or
  • They are primarily diurnal but carry on singing for courtship or to declare their territory at night, or
  • They are primarily diurnal but migrate at night

Let's discuss this in a little more detail.

Why would a bird fly at night?


You probably know that most owls are nocturnal: sleeping during the day, active at night. Most. Not all. There are some owls that are diurnal: carrying on their lives during the daylight hours and resting at night.

Owls have excellent hearing and eyesight. They can locate hidden prey items by hearing them rustle in the grass. But don't think of owls as eating only mice, though some do. Some owls eat primarily moths and other larger insects. Some owls eat wood rats, flying squirrels, and even skunks! Some owls eat earthworms, fish, salamanders, frogs, snakes, and even other smaller birds.

Photo of Western Screech-Owl sleeping in a cedar
This nocturnal Western Screech-Owl sleeps in a cedar 
during the day and flies around at night.
Photo by Greg Gillson
Owls aren't the only birds that fly at night. A group of birds called nightjars are nocturnal or crepuscular: most active at dawn and dusk. Nightjars eat moths and large insects at dusk or all through the night. They are camouflaged in mottled gray and brown plumage. They have large eyes. But like the owls, nightjars give away their presence by their voice, jarring the night with their unique calls that often serve as their names, like the Whip-poor-will.

Owls and nightjars aren't the only nocturnal birds that fly at night, though. There are some species of birds within other primarily diurnal groups that are nocturnal, or at least, active at night under certain circumstances. And, sometimes, normally diurnal birds fly at night.

Some birds that we think of as diurnal forage at night. They may hunt at night to avoid direct competition with other more aggressive species. Or they may find food that is unavailable during the daytime. For instance, at night zooplankton moves to the surface of the ocean. Lantern fishes follow. Squid follow the fish. Certain seabirds feed on these fish and squid at night.

Any bird might fly at night if its roost site is disturbed. An owl might fly into a tree, scattering the songbirds roosting there. A coyote may sneak up on the edge of a pond, causing nearby marsh birds to flee. These noisy fleeing birds may excite other birds until a whole flock is up and flying at night.

Sometimes courtship activities happen at night. There are some birds known for singing at night in the spring or, indeed, nearly year round. Many sing from a perch on the ground. Some birds may sing at night while flying overhead.

Many birds fly at night during their annual migration between nesting and wintering grounds. Not all birds that migrate do so at night, but many do. We'll discuss migration separately below.

What kind of birds fly at night?


Owls: We've discussed that many owls are nocturnal. You may be familiar with the Barn Owl, or hearing owls call at night, including Great Horned Owls, Eastern Screech-Owls, and Western Screech-Owls.

Nightjars: Eastern Whip-poor-wills and Common Poorwills are nocturnal. Common Nighthawks and Lesser Nighthawks are better though of as crepuscular.

Photo of a Killdeer on a shore line
You may hear Killdeer calling and flying day or night.
Photo by Greg Gillson
Shorebirds: The unusual American Woodcock is a crepuscular species that feeds on earthworms in Eastern forests. You may be familiar with the Killdeer at your local wetlands or ball field or shopping mall parking lots. Many people would be surprised to learn that these birds are active day and night. In fact, due to the tides rising and falling based on moon position, shorebirds forage on exposed mudflats at low tide, day or night.

Photo of a Black-crowned Night-Heron
Black-crowned Night-Herons feed at night, rest during the day.
Photo by Greg Gillson
Herons: The Black-crowned Night-Heron and the Yellow-crowned Night-Heron are two species that fly around and hunt at night. During the day they may roost in dense tangles in small groups.

Swallows: Tree and Violet-green Swallows rise several hours before sunrise to fly around "singing" and declaring their territory in the dark.

Albatrosses and petrels: Many seabirds feed on squid and other ocean animals that rise to the surface at night.

Ducks and geese: Very active at night in late winter and early spring. May fly from one pond to another several miles away if they are disturbed at their nightly roosting pond.

Photo of Northern Mockingbird singing from a tree top
Northern Mockingbirds sing through the night and through the year.
Photo by Greg Gillson
Songbirds: Some birds are well-known night singers. Two in North America that are most known for singing through the night are Northern Mockingbirds and Yellow-breasted Chats. American Robins and Hermit Thrushes are early and late singers, as well. It is believed that these night singers are lonely birds seeking a mate (okay, maybe I'm anthropomorphizing a little bit). They generally don't fly around during this singing. Rather, they tend to keep to one perch, sometimes keeping people awake who would rather be sleeping themselves.

Why do birds migrate at night?


Birds migrate between a winter home and a summer home. Migrating is dangerous and uses a lot of energy. So the rewards have to be higher than the risks of staying put. Often, birds migrate far north where there is an abundance of insect food in summer to rapidly grow and raise young. But in winter there are no insects to be found. So they may migrate back to the tropics where there are insects in winter, but more birds to compete for them.

Swallows, swifts, pelicans, loons, falcons, hawks, cranes, and hummingbirds migrate primarily during the day. Most other migrant bird species migrate at night. Why?

Migrating birds fly at various heights. Most fly between 5,000 and 20,000 feet. Small, slow-flying warblers, flycatchers, buntings and others would be easy prey for hawks during the daytime. So they fly under the cover of darkness. Flying non-stop for hours at a time is also energy-intensive and creates heat. So flying at night at higher elevations keeps birds cooler. (source)

What kind of birds migrate at night?


In the previous paragraph I listed a few birds that migrate during the day. Most other groups of birds migrate at night.

Night migrants include insect eaters such as warblers, flycatchers, vireos, tanagers.

Seed eaters migrate at night, too. These include sparrows, buntings, grosbeaks, cowbirds.

Fruit eating night-time migrants include orioles, thrushes, waxwings.

Photo of 3 Tundra Swans coming in for a landing
Tundra Swans migrate at night.
Photo by Greg Gillson
Ducks and geese migrate at night.

Some birds start migrating as soon as the sun sets. The peak of night time migration is midnight. Most birds keep flying until dawn, depending upon weather conditions.

Migrating birds are easily seen on doppler weather radar. If you are curious, check out the Birds over Portland website that features daily radar animated gifs of the previous night's migration in NW Oregon.



Many bird fly at night, for various reasons. You may hear them if you are outside at night in a quiet area. You may observe birds flying against the moon during migration. But mostly, the movement of birds at night is hidden from our view. Just know that it is happening. We have a lot to learn about the natural world.



Have you ever wondered? What's up with bird legs?--Do bird's knees bend backwards?



Sunday, November 10, 2019

Common backyard birds in Wyoming (lists, photos, ID)

I've put this resource together for you to answer the question: What birds are in my backyard in Wyoming? This article tells you what birds you can expect in your backyard and when they are most common. I also provide a photo and description section to help you with Wyoming bird identification of the most common birds native to Wyoming backyards.

The most common backyard birds throughout the year in the state of Wyoming are these:
  1. American Robin (37% frequency)
  2. Northern Flicker (22%)
  3. House Sparrow (20%)
  4. Eurasian Collared-Dove (20%)
These birds occur on more than 20% of eBird checklists for the state.


In this article
Lists of the most common backyard birds in Wyoming
Photos and ID of the most common backyard birds in Wyoming
Other birds you might see from your backyard in Wyoming
Comparison of the most common backyard birds in Cheyenne, Wyoming
Beyond your backyard


This page lists the most common backyard birds as determined by actual bird sightings reported to the citizen science birding program, eBird. These birds are ranked according to frequency--the percentage of all bird checklists on which a species occurs. Below I list common backyard birds in winter and summer.

Photos and identification are next. I tell a little bit about each species and how you might attract them to your yard.

Farther below I've also added a list of other common birds not typically found in backyards.

I conclude with a list comparing the birds of Cheyenne with the birds of the state as a whole.



List of the most common feeder birds and backyard birds in Wyoming


The top list on this page is the frequency of birds throughout the year. Many birds are migratory or otherwise vary in abundance between seasons. So the next two lists are the common birds ranked in winter and then in summer.

The most common backyard birds in Wyoming in winter (December to February) are these:
Eurasian Collared-Dove (33% frequency)
House Sparrow (30%)
House Finch (28%)
Black-capped Chickadee (22%)
Eurasian Starling (21%)
American Crow (21%)
Northern Flicker (20%)

The most common backyard birds in Wyoming in summer (June to July) are these:
American Robin (48% frequency)
Northern Flicker (22%)

How do birds differ between winter and summer?

Eurasian Collared-Doves, House Sparrows are more common in winter.

American Robins are more common in summer.



Photos and ID of the most common backyard birds in Wyoming


Photo of American Robin
American Robin
Photo by Greg Gillson

1. American Robin (37%)

Turdus migratorius
This familiar bird is a resident in the northern half of the United States and a winter visitor in the southern half.

Identification: This is a key species for comparing with an unknown bird. Size: 10 inches long from bill tip to tail tip. About the same size as a Blue Jay or one of the Scrub-Jays. Larger than Red-winged Blackbird. Smaller than a Mourning Dove. Shape: Very plump with a fairly long tail. Bill: Straight and fairly slender, curved at the tip. Color: Gray-brown upperparts, rusty orange breast.

Habitat, range & behavior: Open woodlands, farmlands, urban parks and lawns. Migratory, breeds north across Alaska and Canada. Resident in most of the United States (lower 48). Winters in the United States, Mexico, to central America. Hops on your lawn turning head this way and that looking for food. Their caroling song is one of the early signs of spring in the north.

Food and feeder preference: Worms and other invertebrates in the lawn. May eat fruit from a tray feeder or the ground. Eat small berries from trees and bushes.

Photo of Northern Flicker on a branch
Northern Flicker
Photo by Greg Gillson

2. Northern Flicker (22%)

Colaptes auratus
Of all the bird identification questions I get asked, this common larger backyard bird is the bird most people ask about. It doesn't occur to those unfamiliar with it that this could be a woodpecker.

Identification: Size: About the size of a Mourning Dove. Larger than a robin. Shape: Stocky with short legs, short tail, big head. Bill: As long as head, thin, slightly curved. Color: Back is brown with black bars. Under parts pinkish with black spots. Undersides of black wing and tail feathers are bright salmon red (West) or yellow (East). Head gray (West) or brown (East) and males with red (West) or black (East) whisker marks and nape marks (East). Black crescent across chest. White rump seen in flight.

Habitat, range & behavior: Found in woodland edges and forests. Year-round resident from extreme southern Canada, across all of the lower-48 states and in the mountains of Mexico and Middle America. In summer breeds northward well into Canada and Alaska. Frequently noted hopping on ground pecking in the ground for insects. In late spring, males proclaim their territory by rapid pounding on a hollow tree branch, though the ringing of metal downspouts at dawn is louder and carries much farther, to the exasperation of anyone trying to sleep inside!

Food and feeder preference: Ants and beetles are their primary foods. Will eat black oil sunflower seeds and are attracted to suet.

Photo of House Sparrow on feeder with sunflower seed
House Sparrow
Photo by Greg Gillson

3. House Sparrow (20%)

Passer domesticus
Like the starling, this is another bird introduced from Europe in the 1800's. This sparrow is commonly found in cities and farmlands. It is considered a pest in most areas where it has been introduced.

Identification: Size: The size of a House Finch or Dark-eyed Junco. Shape: Chunkier than native North American sparrows with large head, barrel chest, short neck, medium tail, short legs. Bill: Short, conical. Color: Males are brown and gray with a black mask. Females lack the black and are tan and brown with a pale line back from the eye.

Habitat, range & behavior: Cities and farms. Range in North American from southern Canada through Central America. In summer northward through Canada to southern Alaska. Originated in Middle East and spread to most of Europe and Asia. Introduced in South America, Africa, Australia--nearly anywhere there are people and cities. They tend to be messy... and have a good appetite, and may occur in large noisy chirping flocks. They are aggressive toward other feeder birds.

Food and feeder preference: They eat grain, seed, and insects. To discourage them from your hopper and tray feeders do not feed birds human food scraps. They have a bit of difficulty eating from tube feeders.

Photo of Eurasian Collared-Dove on a metal pole
Eurasian Collared-Dove
Photo by Greg Gillson

4. Eurasian Collared-Dove (20%)

Streptopelia decaocto
Eurasian Collared-Doves are a rather new addition to the North American avifauna. The spread from introductions in the Bahamas to Florida in the 1980's and continue to spread across the continent in a general northwestern direction. They build up a large local population over a couple of years then fly hundreds of miles to set up new outposts, gradually backfilling.

Identification: Size: Larger than Mourning Doves. Shape: Stocky dove with a full square tail. Bill: Small and rather slender. Color: Cream colored with darker primaries. The underside of the base of the tail is blackish with a wide whitish tip. It has a black collar on the hind-neck.

Habitat, range & behavior: Found in residential neighborhoods and farmlands. Native to Eurasia. In North America has expanded explosively in past 3 decades. Florida to northern Mexico and north to southern Canada. Not yet common in the Northeastern United States. Found on city power lines, poles, adjacent conifers. Social. Noisy, making "coo-coo cook" song and grating rasping call "ghaaaaa."

Food and feeder preference: They eat primarily seeds and grains. Since the are so large they prefer to eat on large platform feeders or on the ground under feeders.



How do birds survive the cold winters in Wyoming? This video tells you and shows some common winter birds:


Other common birds you might see from your backyard in Wyoming


The following lists contain additional common birds you might see flying over your yard or in a nearby neighborhood. There are also several less common backyard birds in these lists that don't appear in the lists above.

Watch for these additional common Wyoming birds in winter (December to February):
Common Raven (25% frequency)
Black-billed Magpie (25%)
Mallard (20%)

Watch for these additional common Wyoming birds in summer (June to July):
Common Raven (26% frequency)
Red-winged Blackbird (23%)
Yellow Warbler (22%)

Watch for these additional common Wyoming birds in spring (April to May):
Canada Goose (43% frequency)
Red-winged Blackbird (41%)
Mallard (40%)
Western Meadowlark (30%)
Common Raven (23%)
Mourning Dove (22%)
Common Grackle (22%)
Killdeer (20%)



Comparison of the most common backyard birds in Cheyenne, Wyoming


Photo of House Finch on tree top
House Finch is a common backyard bird in Cheyenne
Photo by Greg Gillson
The following list uses eBird data to compare the birds of Cheyenne with the birds of the state as a whole. Cheyenne is in Laramie County. I will use the data for Laramie County to represent the birds in the Cheyenne area.

Here are the most common backyard birds throughout the year in Cheyenne:
Eurasian Collared-Dove (42% frequency)
House Finch (38%)
American Robin (37%)
House Sparrow (36%)
American Crow (28%)
Mourning Dove (24%)
Northern Flicker (22%)
European Starling (22%)
Common Grackle (20%)

Eurasian Collared-Doves, House Finches, House Sparrows are more common in Cheyenne than in the state as a whole.



Beyond your backyard


To create this page on the backyard birds in Wyoming I used some of the advanced features of eBird.

You can learn more about what birds are in your own backyard using some easy and helpful features of eBird. Rare birds. Common birds. Winter birds, spring birds, summer birds, and fall birds. In fact, you can determine the abundance of all birds likely in your area for every week of the year! You can also see photos of the birds from your own area.

eBird also has numerous photos and voice recordings of the birds. Thus, you can see pictures of all the variation in each species. And you can listen to recordings of bird songs and calls.

Not all birds can be found in backyards. You may find that you wish to see birds in other places. If so, you'll want to check this out.

First, I'm sending you to eBird (www.ebird.org). Please don't forget me! Bookmark this page to come back.

Explore Regions for birds in your own county


From the eBird home page, select the tab for Explore (https://ebird.org/explore). The Explore page offers several options. Please use the Explore Regions form for now. Start entering your county name into the form. Select your county and state from the drop-down list.

Now your County page pops up.

There are 23 counties in Wyoming. There are bird lists for each county. The county with the most birds recorded is Albany County with 353 species. The county with the least birds recorded is Niobrara County with 163 species.

From this County page there are 3 selections that I want to share with you. They are Printable Checklist, Illustrated Checklist, and Hotspots.

1. Printable Checklist


The Printable Checklist is exactly what it sounds like. It is a basic bird checklist of all birds with eBird records in the county, state, or country you choose. It is a professional looking checklist, too. You can print it double-sided on card stock for a quite nice and durable bird checklist.

Bird checklists are useful to keep track of birds in your backyard as you identify them. Or, you may want to print a new list for each time you take a bird watching outing.

But this type of list doesn't help you figure out if a bird in your backyard is common or rare. For that, you need the next type of checklist.

2. Bar Charts


Bar charts combine the species list with abundance over time. The thickness of the line (bar) indicates how frequently a bird is seen. A thicker bar indicates a common bird. A thin line indicates a rare bird. No bars are shown when the birds are absent or not recorded.

In the case of the eBird bar charts, there is a space for every week of the year. There is room for 52 lines, or bars, in each chart. This way, you can tell, week by week, how common birds are in your state, even in each county.

One feature that I like on the county page is the Illustrated Checklist. It is a bar chart for the county. But it also includes photos of birds that have been taken in the county. That way, for unusual birds, I can see the plumage. Are most of the records for breeding males or perhaps dull-looking immatures? That will let me know exactly what I am looking for when I am out in the field. Of course, I always like to add photos to the Illustrated Checklist if any are missing. But that is easier to do with the following list.

3. Hotspots


Hotspots are public bird watching areas with their own species checklists and bar charts. Sometimes these are very famous birding sites with thousands of bird watchers visiting per year. Other hotspots are very rarely visited by birders. These will give you an idea of what other birds (not just backyard birds) may be found near you.

There are hundreds of hotspots for every state. Each county is likely to have numerous hotspots, too. There is a list of the top 100 hotspots in each state. To see all of them you can go to the map.

You may also like my eBird tutorial with illustrations.

Once you start viewing your backyard birds in Wyoming, you may find that you want to look for more types of birds than just backyard birds. Then you're on your way to exploring the wildlife in a larger world. There are birds everywhere you go. Different ones in every location. In fact, 10,000 of them. That's enough for several lifetimes of joy just to see them once!

All this because you were curious as to what birds were in your backyard!



Next: Backyard birds of Alabama

You may be interested: Bird books for each individual state in the US

Related: 34 of the most common birds in the United States (with photos)




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