Best time to travel to Ohio

Hummingbirds in Ohio

View dozens of tiny, swift, and bold ruby-throats in the Buckeye State during their breeding season

Best time: May–September

Hummingbirds in Ohio
Female ruby-throated hummingbird (Archilochus colubris), Hueston Woods State Park, College Corner, Ohio
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Hummingbirds in Ohio are numerous between May and September. Most of them are ruby-throated hummers (Archilochus colubris), the only native Ohio hummingbird, which nests across eastern North America. Males are easily identified by their vivid glossy throats, whereas females have plainer plumage. When the breeding season is over, adults and juveniles migrate south to Central America.

When do hummingbirds leave Ohio for the winter

Southern migration may start in late August. The majority of ruby-throats leave in late September, and all are gone by mid-October. Males depart first; females and young hummers follow a week or two later. Unlike most other birds, hummingbirds tend to move separately. The world's smallest birds are capable of incredible long-distance migrations stretching for up to 1,500 mi (2,400 km) and including a non-stop flight above the Gulf of Mexico. Most winter in Mexico, Panama, or the Caribbean Islands. However, some are satisfied with the Gulf Coast of the United States.

When do hummingbirds come back to the state

Again, male ruby-throats are the first to arrive in Ohio in late April or early May and stake out feeding areas. Hummingbirds are notably territorial critters and would aggressively defend their feeding sites. Females catch up a few weeks later. After mating, mother hummers bring their chicks up alone in walnut-sized nests and might be rarer guests at the flower gardens and backyard feeders than males.

When to put out hummer feeders in Ohio

The right time to set up the feeders in the yard is late April when new tiny nectar drinking fliers struggle to find food in the wild. Curious and not bothered by humans' presence, ruby-throats often come close to your window and are fun to watch. The easy recipe for homemade nectar is one part sugar and four parts water. Don't add red dyes and clean the basin regularly to prevent mold.

When to stop feeding hummingbirds

You can take the feeders down in mid-October at the end of the ruby-throats season. Two weeks after your last sighting is considered the right time. However, some Buckeyes might maintain their feeders year-round. Contrary to popular belief, hummingbird migration is triggered by shorter daylight hours rather than food supplies. So you won't put ruby-throats in jeopardy by leaving the feeders for longer. The sightings recorded in late October and after will be rare migratory hummer species blown off-course.

Types of hummingbirds in Ohio

Besides the regular ruby-throated hummers, the rare visitors include westerly species of rufous (Selasphorus rufus) and calliope (Selasphorus calliope) hummingbirds who accidentally get into the Buckeye State during their migration. Occasionally, Ohioans might spot such vagrants as Mexican violetears (Colibri thalassinus), Anna's hummingbirds (Calypte anna), Allen's hummingbirds (Selasphorus sasin), and broad-tailed hummingbirds (Selasphorus platycercus). Read more about the peculiarities of each species here.

Best time to get a glimpse of a hummer

To sum up, May through September is the best time for viewing hummingbirds in Ohio. Still, late summer stands out as the population enlarged by juveniles swarms the feeders in a feeding frenzy. The birds put on 25–40% of their weight at this time to endure the forthcoming migration.

Best places to spot hummingbirds in Ohio

You could catch a glimpse of this zippy little guy anywhere across the state, including such big cities as Cincinnati, Columbus, or Cleveland in northeast Ohio. Your backyard feeder will bring superb chances for sightings.

Practical info

What is the recipe for homemade nectar for hummingbirds?

To make homemade nectar, combine one part granulated sugar with four parts boiling water. Avoid adding red dye or honey to the mix as it can lead to infection and isn't necessary to attract hummingbirds. Regularly cleaning the basin is important to avoid mold. Show more

Can hummingbirds be seen in Ohio's big cities like Cleveland or Cincinnati?

Hummingbirds inhabit large Ohio cities including Cleveland, Cincinnati, and Columbus in Central Ohio. Gardens with flowers and backyard feeders are ideal for viewing. Bird enthusiasts could also observe them in natural areas like Lake Erie Islands, Wildcat Hollow Trail, or Secrest Arboretum. Show more

What other species of hummingbirds can be spotted in Ohio besides ruby-throated hummers?

Ohio occasionally gets western rufous (Selasphorus rufus) and calliope (Selasphorus calliope) hummingbird species during their migration season. The state is also visited by rare vagrants like Mexican violetears (Colibri thalassinus), Anna's hummingbirds (Calypte anna), Allen's hummingbirds (Selasphorus sasin), and broad-tailed hummingbirds (Selasphorus platycercus). Their sightings would be extraordinary. Show more

Where do Ohio hummingbirds go during the winter?

Most Ohio's ruby-throated hummingbirds migrate to Mexico, Panama, or the Caribbean Islands during winter. However, some prefer to remain in the United States' Gulf Coast. A unique route is selected by each bird during migration, which is triggered by shorter daylight hours rather than food supplies. Show more

What is the best time of year for Ohioans to see hummingbirds in their backyard?

Late spring through summer (May to September) is the best time to observe hummingbirds in Ohio. The population reaches its peak during late summer when the feeders are crowded with birds. Male birds arrive first, followed by females and juveniles. As the breeding season ends, hummingbirds start migrating towards warmer climates, making their sightings rare. Show more

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Last updated: by Olha Savych