Hummingbirds, which got their name due to the humming sound that they make with their wings, are the smallest migrating birds in America and the smallest breeding birds in Massachusetts. The ruby-throated hummingbird (Archilochus colubris) is actually the only species from over 300 that nests and breeds in the Eastern United States.
Every spring, these tiny creatures overcome over a thousand miles to arrive in New England and stay there through the first month of fall. Rufous, black-chinned, Allen's, and calliope hummingbirds, which sometimes migrate through Massachusetts, have also been spotted in the state on rare occasions.
Male ruby-throated hummingbird stands out due to its red throat, emerald green feathers, and forked tail. Females are not that flashy looking. They have grey or white feathers with green streaks. They prefer to nest in the forests on deciduous trees but can often be spotted in backyards and gardens near the hummingbird feeders.
Hummingbirds showed up in all parts of Massachusetts, but they are most common along the Atlantic coast, especially around Cape Cod and near Plymouth. They have also been spotted in the suburbs of Boston, and in the central part of the state, at Tower Hill Botanic Garden in Boylston.
Rufous (Selasphorus rufus) is spotted significantly more rarely than ruby-throated hummingbirds. Male rufous is recognized by the orange-red throat and darker orange feathers, while a female has grey-green feathers, a crown, and white tips on her tail.
When do hummingbirds arrive in Massachusetts
Male hummingbirds typically arrive in Massachusetts in the first week of May, where they occupy the feeding grounds and get ready for mating. Females arrive a bit later, in the second half of May. Hummingbirds are interesting to watch during breeding due to male courtship dances with loops and deep dives.
When do hummingbirds leave Massachusetts
Mid-September marks the end of hummingbird season in Massachusetts. Males leave first, while females and juveniles stay for a couple of more weeks to accumulate strength to endure their long migration to Florida, Mexico, or other countries in Central America.
How to attract hummingbirds
A hummingbird visits from 1000 to 2000 flowers in one day to collect nectar, so flowering meadows and gardens are among its primary feeding grounds. You can plant trumpet honeysuckle, creeping trumpets, morning glory, or other tubular flowers to attract hummingbirds to your garden. Also, put out hummingbird feeders with sugary water starting from May. The solution for the feeder can be made from 1/4 cup of sugar and 1 cup of hot water. Don't forget to clean the feeder every 3-4 days.