Expert Tips to Attract Hummingbirds in Winter

Of course, winter isn’t a harsh season everywhere. In coastal California, where the weather is moderate year-round, Anna’s hummingbirds have always been permanent residents. Historically, they were common from Baja north to the San Francisco Bay region.

Around the 1930s, however, they began to spread. By the 1960s they were expanding eastward and beginning to nest in Arizona. At the same time, they pushed north through coastal Oregon and Washington and into southwestern British Columbia.

Most kinds of hummingbirds in the U.S. live in the West, especially the Southwest. Originally, the only hummers east of the Great Plains were the familiar little ruby-throats. They were summer birds from the Gulf Coast to southern Canada.

But almost all went to southern Mexico or Central America for the winter, with only a handful staying through the season in Florida. But recent decades have seen a virtual explosion in the numbers of Western hummingbirds wandering eastward. This is why you should keep feeders up for late migrating fall hummingbirds.

Leading the charge has been the rufous hummingbird. This copper-colored sprite is among the most numerous Western hummers, spending early summer in Northwestern forests, from Oregon and Montana to the edge of Alaska.

In late summer and early fall, most of the population migrates south through mountain meadows of the Rockies, heading for a wintering range in Mexico. But every fall, a few rufous hummingbirds stray east out of the Rockies, winding up in the Southeastern U.S.

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