Spring migration (late February–late April)
Every spring, hundreds of ruby-throated hummingbirds (Archilochus colubris) return to Louisiana and neighboring southern states after wintering in Mexico and Central America. The species is the only local breeder that often favors the areas east of the Mississippi. The earliest sightings along the gulf coast might occur in late January, increasing by late February around such cities as New Orleans or Baton Rouge. The migration swells in March and winds down by the end of April, as a large quantity continue to move north across the eastern US well through Canada.
Fall migration (early July–early October)
As northern breeders are done with their business, southbound migrants start showing up in Louisiana shortly after the 4th of July. You can see swarms of hummers gathering around the feeders in September when the birds fatten up before the long and grueling journey across the hundreds of miles of the Gulf of Mexico, where food is non-existent for these birds. The last stragglers typically leave in early October.
Meet the hummers in-person—host them in your own yard!
If you like to have a close up look at a hummingbird and at the same time assist the tiny creatures on the move, set up a feeder in your garden. Stick to strict but simple rules: make a solution of 1/4 cup of sugar and a cup of water; don't add red coloring, as the birds don't need to consume unnatural chemicals; and keep the feeder clean and the water fresh, particularly in hot weather.
Last but not least—don't take the feeders down in October when the hummingbird season is seemingly over. If possible, provide some nourishment for winter vagrants, which have become all too frequent visitors lately. For unknown reasons, a number of western hummers refuse to migrate further south and rather stay in coastal Louisiana over the colder period. Sporadically, you can spot rufous (Selasphorus rufus), Allen's (Selasphorus sasin), Anna's (Calypte anna), black-chinned (Archilochus alexandri), broad-tailed (Selasphorus platycercus), buff-bellied (Amazilia yucatanensis), calliope (Selasphorus calliope), and broad-billed (Cynanthus latirostris) hummingbirds. Moreover, some of the beloved ruby-throated hummers might likewise remain here all year.