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Best time to travel to South Carolina

Hummingbirds

About half a dozen hummingbirds species visit South Carolina

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Last updated: by Olga Valchyshen
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Hummingbirds are the smallest migrating birds in America. They are also fascinating to observe in your garden. Every spring, thousands of hummingbirds migrate from their wintering sites in Florida, Mexico, Florida, or other countries into Central America and pass through Southern Carolina. In the fall, they make an impressive journey back, covering over 1000 miles (1600 km).

Seven species of hummingbirds have been spotted in Southern Carolina. However, only two species are observed on a regular basis. Ruby-throated hummingbirds are the most common as they breed and nest in the state, spending the whole summer season here. Rufous hummingbirds nest on the West Coast but are sometimes spotted in South Carolina during migrations.

Ruby-throated hummingbirds (Archilochus colubris) got their name because males boast a beautiful ruby-red throat, creating a contrast with a white collar and emerald-green back. Females are paler with white and grey-green feathers. These birds have been spotted frequently along South Carolina's Atlantic Coast, in Myrtle Beach and Charleson. In the central part of the state, they have been commonly seen in the area of Lake Murray, near Columbia.

Rufous hummingbirds (Selasphorus rufus) sometimes visit South Carolina in the winter and can be spotted in gardens near feeders. Males boast bright orange throats and darker orange backs, while females have green backs and white-tipped tails.

When hummingbirds arrive in South Carolina

Ruby-throated hummingbirds arrive in South Carolina from late March to early April for the breeding season. People usually put out their hummingbird feeders in the gardens around March 11. After some breeding rituals, tiny birds usually build their nests on deciduous trees near a river or a stream. Females lay 1-3 eggs.

When hummingbirds leave South Carolina

Hummingbirds start their journey back to their wintering grounds in September. Males are the first ones to head south. Females follow after a few weeks, usually in October. Juvenile birds are the last to leave because they need to accumulate body mass for the long journey.

Attracting hummingbirds

Putting out a hummingbird feeder is the best way to attract tiny creatures to your yard. Fill the feeder with nectar mixing 1/4 cup of sugar with 1 cup of water, and don't forget to clean it every few days. Planting tubular flowers is another good idea. Honeysuckle trumpets, creeping trumpets, and petunias are some of the best plants to sustain hummingbirds, which visit about 1000 flowers every day to collect nectar.

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