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Best time to travel to Virginia

Hummingbirds

Ruby-throated and rufous hummingbirds can often be spotted in Virginia

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Tiny, brightly-colored hummingbirds are an absolute joy to observe. The bird family, native to South and North America, is comprised of 360 species, and a few of them can be found in Virginia. Ruby-throated hummingbirds and rufous hummingbirds are the most common in the state. Rivoli’s, black-chinned, calliope, Allen’s, and Anna’s hummingbirds have been spotted in Virginia from time to time. Since there are no resident hummingbird species in Virginia, they can only be seen during the warmer time of the year. Hummingbird season lasts approximately from mid-April to October.

Ruby-throated hummingbirds are quite easy to recognize. Males have a distinct ruby-red throat, emerald green feathers, a white collar, and a forked tail. Females have lighter feathers, grey or white with some streaks of green. Rufous hummingbirds look quite similar, especially the females, however, the rufous hummers have more green color on feathers on the back and top. Male rufous birds have orange-red throats and pointed tails.

Hummingbirds are most frequently spotted in Eastern Virginia, around Norfolk, Virginia Beach, as well as near the capital Richmond. They are also quite common in southwestern parts of the state, near Roanoke and Lynchburg.

When do hummingbirds return to Virginia

Mature male hummingbirds are usually the first to return to Virginia with the arrival of warm weather around mid-April. Females and younger birds arrive a few weeks later, in the first week of May. Ruby-throated hummingbirds are the only species that breed in Virginia. Females usually build their nests in the woods, on tops of deciduous trees, such as oaks, hornbeams, or poplars.

When do hummingbirds leave Virginia

Mature male hummingbirds are also the first to leave Virginia. They usually depart in early September heading to the tropical countries of Central America. Females and youngsters follow a couple of weeks later. Most birds leave the state by October.

Hummingbirds can be drawn to gardens with certain kinds of flowers and hummingbird feeders, filled with sugary water. Visiting up to 2000 flowers per day, these birds need a lot of nectar. They prefer tubular flowers of bright colors such as daylilies, petunias, or irises.

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