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Hummingbirds in Massachusetts

Ruby-throated hummingbirds visit Massachusetts to nest and breed every summer

Ruby-throated hummingbird

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.

Practical info

When do hummingbirds typically arrive in Massachusetts?

In Massachusetts, the first week of May marks the typical arrival of male hummingbirds. At this time, they prepare to establish territories and attract females to mate with while the females themselves arrive around mid-May. Show more

When does the hummingbird season end in Massachusetts?

Massachusett's hummingbird season ends in mid-September. While males leave early in preparation for migration, females and juveniles may remain in the area for a few more weeks to accumulate strength for their journey to Florida or even Central America. Show more

What can you do to attract hummingbirds to your garden?

The best way to attract hummingbirds to your garden is to cultivate a flower garden with tubular flowers like trumpet honeysuckle and creeping trumpets. Placing hummingbird feeders filled with a sugar-and-water solution is also a good idea. Be sure to keep the feeders clean to avoid contamination. Show more

What are the species of hummingbirds found in Massachusetts?

Ruby-throated hummingbirds are the only species of hummingbirds known to breed in Massachusetts. While other species like Rufous, black-chinned, Allen's, and calliope hummingbirds have been spotted on rare occasions as they migrate through the area. Show more

Where can you spot hummingbirds in Massachusetts?

Hummingbirds can be spotted throughout Massachusetts but are most commonly found near the Atlantic coast in areas around Plymouth and Cape Cod. They've also been spotted in the suburbs of Boston and at the Tower Hill Botanic Garden located in Boylston. Show more

How long do ruby-throated hummingbirds typically live in Massachusetts?

Ruby-throated hummingbirds have a lifespan of around 3-5 years in Massachusetts, although in ideal conditions, they can survive up to a decade. Juvenile hummingbirds have a lower chance of making it to adulthood due to competition, predation, or starvation. Show more

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Last updated: by Olga Valchyshen