In North America, the Hummingbirds are a loved species. Backyard birders eagerly await the time of year when its the hummingbird migration period. It is an enthralling visual exhibition for the bird watcher and people, in general, find it fascinating to capture the movements of these small birds in cameras. Many people arrange their gardens and yards and put feeders to greet the birds. Knowing when hummingbirds move assists people to prepare for the arrival of the birds.
The Humming Bird Migration: About the Journey
Regardless of their distinction of being one of the smallest birds in the world, these birds migrate a long distance. Some species of hummingbirds can travel thousands of miles in a single journey. The North American hummingbirds are frequent travelers and seasonally migrate between the northern and south grounds. The birds head to the north side for breeding, and they migrate southward for the southern wintering grounds. These birds differ in their migration plans as they do not move in flocks and fly alone. The birds move during the day time and fly close to the territory to look for feeding opportunities. At night the birds rest on the trees.
The experienced backyard birders understand the migration pattern of the hummingbirds and are eager to feed and observe them when the time comes. It is not rare to see individual birds arriving the same yard one after the other in a matter of a few days. But how to the bird decide the season to move from one end of the territory to another?
The Hummingbirds Journey
Many conditions can affect hummingbirds to pick the time of migration. One main reason is the movement of the sun corresponding to the bird’s area. With the change in light levels and intensity, the hummingbirds feed a lot and can put up additional weight. The weight gain is because of hormonal changes referred to as hyperphagia, a state that helps their bodies to put mass. The birds use the extra fat as fuel for the long travel ahead.
Some of the other reasons that make the birds fly are:
Searching for Food:
The birds feed on the nectar from flowers, and they also feed on small insects. As the food sources decrease in one region, the birds will plan migration routes to other places in search of food. One of the main reasons the hummingbird migrates in spring is to find insects for the hatchlings.
The Weather Circumstances:
The bird’s movement may also get hampered due to weather disturbance. In poor weather, the migrating birds settle at a safe location and wait for the weather to change so they can continue the journey. Bird fallouts are more common during the spring migration.
The Age of the Humming Birds:
The younger birds take more time to migrate than the mature ones. The reason is that the journey is long and covers thousands of miles. The more immature birds wait to have more strength and size to go for a long migration. Those birds who hatched later in the year will take more time to shape the movement, whereas the early hatchers can migrate sooner.
The Gender of the Bird:
Male hummingbirds are often the first to migrate. They travel first so they can find nesting in a new location and can welcome the female arriving later. The nesting helps them to have breeding territories ready for the females. During the fall journey, the birds follow the same travel pattern to find suitable nesting grounds in winter territories.
The Traveling to Cover:
Rufous hummingbirds go for the longest distance when they migrate. The longer the range of the travel, the earlier the birds move for migration. The rufous hummingbirds will start their journey long before any other species of hummingbirds.
Supporting the Humming Birds
Contrary to the misunderstanding of stopping the migration process by feeding the bird, in reality, supporting the birds to feed during the trip makes it more manageable for them to travel. Birdwatchers and backyard birders take many steps to keep the food source ready in spring as well as in the fall season. They arrange the plants so that the birds can have a source of food regardless of the season. Planting the early and the late-blooming flower is one way to have the nectar ready for the birds.
People take steps to preserve the hummingbird nectar and stop it from freezing in fall, so it can be open for feed for the birds who migrate late.
Another way is to have clean and ready feeders and to replace the old nectar. The feeders contain safe food for the hummingbirds to consume.
Understanding the timeline of the movements help the birdwatchers and the birders to view these fascinating species up close. The migration patterns will help the birders to check the beautiful birds, take pictures, or spend some time with the birds. If the birders and people proceed to take measures to protect and feed the birds during the travel, they will witness the continuous patterns of hummingbirds migration for years to come. There are many types of researches and scientific studies that cover the migration pattern of these birds that helps in understanding many environmental elements as well. Hummingbird migration remains one of the most elegant bird movements of the small birds, which show superior skills and tenancy of the species to move from one part of the world to another.