When To Put Out Hummingbird Feeders: A Guide For Each State

when to put out hummingbird feeders

One of the surest signs of spring – and one of the most exciting sights for a bird watcher – is the arrival of hummingbirds. You want to make sure they feel welcome, and are taken care of, so it’s important to have your hummingbird feeders all ready to go – clean, filled and in place – before this blessed yearly event.

But how can you tell what the best time to put out your hummingbird feeders is? That’s exactly what we’ll cover here, in this guide to when to put out hummingbird feeders in each of the fifty US states!

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When Should You Put Out Your Hummingbird Feeders?

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A great way to help determine the migrating schedule of hummingbirds in your area is to keep a log every year – either documenting the specific types of hummingbirds and when each arrives, or just the first arrival each year and exactly when it happened.

That way you can easily answer the question of when do hummingbirds come back in the spring, and get a very clear idea of when it might happen this year, so you can get your hummingbird feeders all nicely ready for the birds. Besides, little logs like this are just the kind of thing we birders love to do!

Of course, if you haven’t done this yet it doesn’t help you much this year, does it?

In general, you will find that hummingbirds arrive in the extreme south of the United States around the beginning of March – or sometimes a bit earlier – and as you go north, or into colder climates, these dates will move forward – beginning of April in the central states and beginning of May in the north. The dates will tend to be a little later as well if spring is a bit cold or late in coming.

It is nice to have the feeders completely clean and ready a couple of weeks before hummingbird season. But remember that the sugar water you use can go bad pretty quickly, forming mold and becoming unattractive and even dangerous to birds, so especially early in the season, when there’s not as much activity and so they won’t feed as much, you don’t need to fill the feeders as full, and should make sure to replace the sugar water quite often to keep the mixture fresh.

But the above dates are pretty general, and so to make the timing more specific and your planning easier let’s look at all of the states individually, with the best time to put out hummingbird feeders state by state.

We are going to err on the side of punctuality here, with dates a tiny bit earlier than necessary – because hummingbirds have a great memory, and if they find your feeders when they first arrive there’s a very good chance the little beauties will call your home their own, and come back year after year!

If you’re wondering when the best time to take hummingbird feeders down is, well, that can be a bit harder to say, with the vagaries of weather and season and whatnot, but in general you should probably wait two to three weeks after you’ve seen the last hummingbird – don’t want to leave anybody out!

Make sure to also check out my bonus section, at the end of this article, with a few tips on attracting hummingbirds to your yard and taking care of them and their feeders.

When to Put Out Hummingbird Feeders by State

The dates I’ve included below are reliable guides for that particular state, but remember that even in a single state different regions can have different weather, and warmer or cooler climes will usually mean earlier or later arrival respectively.

For example, in Colorado the eastern plains can be much hotter than the mountains, or even the foothills, and so hummingbirds might come earlier. Similarly, New York is such a long state, from north to south, that the northern areas might see hummingbirds quite a bit later. These considerations, or very similar ones, can apply to nearly every state.

And again, warmer or colder weather will also affect the migration and arrival times of hummingbirds.

when to put out hummingbird feeders

All that said, here are the best times to first put out hummingbird feeders in all fifty states:

When to Put Out Hummingbird Feeders in Alabama

Late March to April 1

When to Put Out Hummingbird Feeders in Alaska

Late April to May 1

When to Put Out Hummingbird Feeders in Arizona

Early April – though some hummingbirds stay in Arizona year-round

When to Put Out Hummingbird Feeders in Arkansas

Late March to April 1

When to Put Out Hummingbird Feeders in California

Mid March – though some hummingbirds stay in the warmer parts of California year-round

When to Put Out Hummingbird Feeders in Colorado

Mid April

When to Put Out Hummingbird Feeders in Connecticut

Late April to May 1

When to Put Out Hummingbird Feeders in Delaware

Late March to April 1

When to Put Out Hummingbird Feeders in Florida

Early March

When to Put Out Hummingbird Feeders in Georgia

Late February to March 1

When to Put Out Hummingbird Feeders in Hawaii

Never – hummingbirds prohibited by state law

When to Put Out Hummingbird Feeders in Idaho

Early April

When to Put Out Hummingbird Feeders in Illinois

Late April to May 1

When to Put Out Hummingbird Feeders in Indiana

Late April to May 1

When to Put Out Hummingbird Feeders in Iowa

Late April to May 1

When to Put Out Hummingbird Feeders in Kansas

Mid April

When to Put Out Hummingbird Feeders in Kentucky

Early April

When to Put Out Hummingbird Feeders in Louisiana

Mid March

When to Put Out Hummingbird Feeders in Maine

Early May

When to Put Out Hummingbird Feeders in Maryland

Late April to May 1

When to Put Out Hummingbird Feeders in Massachusetts

Late April to May 1

When to Put Out Hummingbird Feeders in Michigan

Mid April

When to Put Out Hummingbird Feeders in Minnesota

Early May

When to Put Out Hummingbird Feeders in Mississippi

Mid March

When to Put Out Hummingbird Feeders in Missouri

Early to Mid April

When to Put Out Hummingbird Feeders in Montana

Late April to Mid May

When to Put Out Hummingbird Feeders in Nebraska

Early to Mid May

When to Put Out Hummingbird Feeders in Nevada

Early April – though some hummingbirds stay in Nevada year-round

When to Put Out Hummingbird Feeders in New Hampshire

Early May

When to Put Out Hummingbird Feeders in New Jersey

Late April to May 1

When to Put Out Hummingbird Feeders in New Mexico

Late March to April 1

When to Put Out Hummingbird Feeders in New York

Late April to May 1

When to Put Out Hummingbird Feeders in North Carolina

Mid to Late March

When to Put Out Hummingbird Feeders in North Dakota

Mid May

When to Put Out Hummingbird Feeders in Ohio

Mid to Late April

When to Put Out Hummingbird Feeders in Oklahoma

Mid April

When to Put Out Hummingbird Feeders in Oregon

Late February to March 1

When to Put Out Hummingbird Feeders in Pennsylvania

Early to Mid April

When to Put Out Hummingbird Feeders in Rhode Island

Late April to May 1

When to Put Out Hummingbird Feeders in South Carolina

Mid March – though some hummingbirds stay in South Carolina year-round

When to Put Out Hummingbird Feeders in South Dakota

Mid May

When to Put Out Hummingbird Feeders in Tennessee

Early to Mid April

When to Put Out Hummingbird Feeders in Texas

Mid to Late March

When to Put Out Hummingbird Feeders in Utah

Late April to May 1

When to Put Out Hummingbird Feeders in Vermont

Early May

When to Put Out Hummingbird Feeders in Virginia

Mid April

When to Put Out Hummingbird Feeders in Washington

Late February to Early March

When to Put Out Hummingbird Feeders in West Virginia

Mid April

When to Put Out Hummingbird Feeders in Wisconsin

Late April

When to Put Out Hummingbird Feeders in Wyoming

Early to Mid May

Bonus Section: How to Attract Hummingbirds – And Keep Them Coming Back!

when to put out hummingbird feeders

I’ll say it again – hummingbirds have a very strong memory, and so if they find what they want and need in your yard they will grace you with their presence again and again, even year to year.

So in closing let’s talk about a few things you can do to make sure they do, in fact, find what they want and need in your garden or yard – that is, how to make sure you attract and take care of them.

Be Ready Early

Weather and migration patterns can be unpredictable, and again if a hummingbird finds your yard first it might really imprint. So make sure to have your feeders clean and filled with plenty of time to spare.

In fact, you can even go a little earlier than the above dates – but please remember that there will be a lot less feeding early on, or none at all, and so it’s important to keep the sugar water fresh by replacing it often.

Red Really Works

It’s not just some sort of urban legend; hummingbirds, because of the way their eyes work, really are more attracted to red. If you’re a little skittish to put food coloring in the water, most hummingbird feeders have prominent red colors. Yellow can also attract hummingbirds, but can have the undesirable effect of attracting bees as well.

Not Just One Feeder

Hummingbirds can, despite their wee stature, be quite aggressive with each other, especially in defending a food source. Unless you want just a single alpha bird feeding, it’s a great idea to put out several hummingbird feeders with a good distance between them – maybe ten feet or more if possible.

Regular Water Too

Hummingbirds don’t really like bird baths, and they don’t drink much water beyond what’s in their feeders, but what they do love is a good water mist. An active bubbling fountain or an installed mister will definitely be noticed and enjoyed, and you can enjoy watching them play in the water – plus you know you’re taking care of them properly. 

Just the Right Recipe

It’s a little silly to think about saving tiny money by adding less sugar to the water, but in fact too much sugar can make the mixture get moldy a lot faster. Hummingbirds will need more energy when it’s colder, and so a 3:1 is ok for earlier weeks – but again, remember to replace it more regularly at the beginning of the season.

For simplicity’s sake, though, and to best mimic what they find in the wild, you can use a 4:1 water to sugar ratio all the time.

Don’t use honey, any obviously stay away from sugar substitutes, and it is smart to boil the sugar water before filling, to keep it fresher and free from mold.

Keep ‘em Clean

Even during heavier activity times, it’s nice to keep hummingbird feeders clean and fresh – and, even during those busier times, it’s still possible for mold to form, which will really turn your tiny friends off. 

So clean your hummingbird feeders regularly, and do it at a time when it won’t disrupt their feeding or scare them away – they love to feed around dawn and dusk, and will feed throughout the day, so to be safe you should probably clean and fill the feeders after dark.

Vinegar is a great way to keep mold away, but remember to not leave any behind, or any trace residue – or smell – of anything else, like detergents. However you clean the feeders, rinse them very thoroughly before refilling them.

Keep Pests Away

Unfortunately, ants, bees, hornets and wasps love sugar water as much as hummingbirds do, and they can be aggressive to the birds and drive them away for good.

For ants, you can hang your feeders on very thin wire or fishing line, and hang an ant moat above the feeder. Be very careful with any kind of oils or petroleum products, which might keep ants away but can be very dangerous to hummingbirds – these things can be put at the very, very top of the line, so far away from the feeder itself that there’s no chance of the birds touching them, but it’s best to just avoid them.

For flying pests you can use bee guards or use a good saucer feeder, and many people advise setting saucers of sugar water nearby, to distract bees, wasps and hornets away from the feeders – but of course this can have the opposite effect, actually attracting more insects to your yard!

In general, keeping your feeders clean, and either repairing leaks or replacing leaky feeders, will go a long way in keeping pests away, and keeping hummingbirds happy.

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