Best time to travel to Colorado

Hummingbird Migration in Colorado

For nearly five months, Colorado hosts thousands of wee birds on the move

Best time: late April–early September

Hummingbird Migration
Hummingbird Migration
Hummingbird Migration
Hummingbird Migration
Male rufous hummingbird (Selasphorus rufus), Gunnison
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During the annual hummingbird migration, thousands of miniature birds buzz across Colorado northward to their breeding grounds and then in the opposite direction to southern winter homes. At most, the state records 11 different species. The first usually arrives in late April, and the last leaves by early September. You can see some migrants during the entire timeframe between spring and fall, as males start migrating earlier than females and juveniles, and each species has a bit different season.

Colorado hummer species

The most common native breeders are broad-tailed hummingbirds (Selasphorus platycercus), often observed in the areas west of Colorado Springs. Black-chinned hummingbird (Archilochus alexandri) also breeds in Colorado, widespread from deserts across to mountain forests. If you come in July or August, expect numerous rufous hummingbirds (Selasphorus rufus). The fourth most frequent passerby is the calliope hummingbird (Stellula calliope), the smallest avian migrant here in the US.

Apart from Colorado regulars, you can sporadically catch a glimpse of magnificent or refulgent hummingbirds (Eugenes fulgens) twice as big as other species, the exceptionally vocal Anna's hummingbirds (Calypte anna), and costa's hummingbirds (Calypte costae) known as the "desert hummer."

Where to look for these birds?

You can find these little ones anywhere in the state, should it be the Rocky Mountains, Gunnison National Forest, or a backyard in Denver. The easiest way to attract some hungry fellows is to set up a bird feeder in your garden. Fill it up with some artificial nectar made from one cup of sugar dissolved in 4 cups of tap water. Please do not add any crimson dye, as it could harm the birds. Also, make sure to change sweet water and clean the feeder every other day in hot summer weather.

Fun facts about hummingbirds

Did you know that a hummer's tiny heart beats 1,250 times per minute when flying in contrast to 250 beats at rest? To complete a long-distance journey, migrating birds must keep a high energy level and hence need much more nourishment. An average hummingbird gains 25–40% of its weight during the season. So every feeder is appreciated.

Practical info

When does the hummingbird migration start and end in Colorado?

In Colorado, hummingbirds start to arrive in late April and leave by early September. Although the breeding season starts early, each species migrates at different times to their winter homes. Males leave earlier than juveniles and females. You can see the occasional migrant throughout the late-summer and early-fall months. Show more

What are some of the best places in Colorado to spot hummingbirds?

Hummingbirds in Colorado can be seen in various locations, from the Rocky Mountains to a backyard in Denver. The areas west of Colorado Springs are famous for broad-tailed hummingbirds. Black-chinned hummingbirds can be found widely across deserts to mountain forests. Popular sites for birdwatchers include Gunnison National Forest and Rocky Mountains. Show more

What are some of the most common hummingbird species found in Colorado?

In Colorado, you can find 11 recorded species of hummingbirds, with four major ones being broad-tailed hummingbirds, black-chinned hummingbirds, rufous hummingbirds, and calliope hummingbirds. Other occasional hummingbirds spotted in the area include magnificent and refulgent hummingbirds, Anna's hummingbirds, and Costa's hummingbirds. Show more

What is the easiest way to attract hummingbirds to your backyard in Colorado?

Attracting hummingbirds to your garden in Colorado can be achieved by setting up an artificial nectar-filled bird feeder. Use a mixture of one cup of sugar dissolved in four cups of tap water. Do not add any dye to the nectar, as it can be dangerous for the birds. During summer, change the sweet water and clean the feeder every two days to ensure the hummingbirds' health. Show more

How do hummingbirds prepare for long-distance migration, and how much weight do they gain during the season?

Hummingbirds build up their energy levels to prepare for long-distance migration. During the season, an average hummingbird increases its weight by 25-40% by increasing food intake. They gain a layer of fat that provides energy for migration. Females require more nourishment for egg-laying while males require extra energy to find a mate. Show more

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Last updated: by Olha Savych