Best time to travel to Texas

Hummingbird Migration

Track the world's tiniest bird passing over the Lone Star State

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If you ever wanted to spot a hummer, Texas is among the best destinations to make your wish come true. The state hosts around 18 different species, with the dominant ruby-throated (Archilochus colubris), black-chinned (Archilochus alexandri), Anna's (Calypte anna), and rufous (Selasphorus rufus) hummingbirds. Some species breed here, whereas others winter or stay all year round. Anyway, the chances of encountering one of these entertaining little creatures is enhanced during spring and fall hummingbird migrations, which roughly peak in March to May and August to October.

Some of the most promising spots to check out include Highland Lakes west of Austin and Hill Country in Central Texas, north-west of San Antonio. The most avid birdwatchers are welcome to Big Bend National Park and Padre Island National Seashore to chase all-year residents. However, you can also catch a glimpse of a hummer elsewhere across the state, including large metropolises such as Houston.

Ruby-throated hummingbirds are the most remarkable in Texas. A wee bird weighing some 0.1 oz (3 g) can travel for 1,500 mi (2,400 km) from its breeding grounds reaching southern areas of Canada to winter homes in Mexico and Central America. You could search for a long time and finally see (or not) a single hummer. But knowing the right time and place, you can observe swarms of 25–40 ruby-throats at a time!

Rockport-Fulton HummerBird Celebration (September 16–19, 2021)

The secret is Rockport-Fulton HummerBird Celebration held annually in mid-September near Corpus Christi. On their southern migration, ruby-throated hummingbirds stop by coastal Texas to fatten up at human-made feeders before the non-stop flight across the Gulf of Mexico. During the celebration, locals open their gardens to both birds and the public, so mesmerizing sightings are guaranteed. Stand still and quiet, and they will come right up to your side.

Some Texans used to take the feeders down after Labor Day for the fear the birds would postpone their migration while food is aplenty, but lately, things have changed. Ornithologists claim that the trigger setting hummers on the move is the day's length rather than the lack of food, so feeders are relevant all year round.

Just in case you'd like to buy a feeder and prepare your artificial nectar, the recipe is one part sugar to four parts water. No food coloring allowed—the red vessel itself is attractive enough for a hummingbird. Note that in summer, the mixture will soon turn into toxic alcohol. So clean your feeder up on time.