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Q: Early Hummingbirds... ? ?? ??? for hummer-ga ( Answered 5 out of 5 stars,   1 Comment )
Subject: Early Hummingbirds... ? ?? ??? for hummer-ga
Category: Miscellaneous
Asked by: brudenell-ga
List Price: $2.00
Posted: 18 Apr 2005 18:40 PDT
Expires: 18 May 2005 18:40 PDT
Question ID: 511127

Hello hummer(s)

Something is going on. A review of the fine hummingbird migration map at:

is showing that our tiny feathered friends are moving towards the land
of romance & ultimately progation, many days earlier than previous maps
have recorded. I wonder what is going on? Any ideas? Are there rumours
on the web? Unfortunately the old maps are crowded with sightings
making predictions a challenge. It is tough to cross reference. I need
your assistance.

Can you make a guess at the exact day that the hummingbirds will be
first seen in each of the eight applicable provinces of Canada? We all
need advance notice as to when we should get our feeders out...

A *fun* $5 bonus will be paid for each correct prediction.

Love your work, best regards



Request for Question Clarification by hummer-ga on 18 Apr 2005 19:36 PDT
Hi B! 

Well, no doubt about it, I've got the "most fun" question of the week, thank you! 

It's the weather, I'm sure. The flowers are early so the birds are
too. We've noticed that the hummers aren't the only early birds, the
Tree Swallows are already checking out their nest boxes.

Anyway, this is just a note to let you know that I won't be able to
answer this until later Tuesday or Wednesday. However, I'll go out on
a limb and say at least one little guy will be in Ontario tomorrow
(19th) due to the warm weather that is predicted.

Talk to you soon,

Clarification of Question by brudenell-ga on 19 Apr 2005 02:58 PDT
Good morning H

Late Tuesday or Wednesday will be fine. Hope I wasn't too late posting
my question. I see that in 2003 & 2002 that there were 3 sightings in
each of those years prior to April 19th.

Subject: Re: Early Hummingbirds... ? ?? ??? for hummer-ga
Answered By: hummer-ga on 20 Apr 2005 09:18 PDT
Rated:5 out of 5 stars
Dear brudenell,

Hummingbirds are surely commuting according to the availability of
food. Flowers are largely dependent on the weather, but North
Americans are becoming more environmentally aware and are making their
backyards safe (pesticide free) and welcoming (spring flowering
shrubs) for migratory birds. Given an "early spring" with lots of
flowers in bloom along migratory routes, hummers will surely push
forward and some will arrive northward early. However, these hardy
little creatures take the risk of getting caught in some blustery
spring storms and may perish. Luckily, the bulk of the migration is
taking up the rear and will arrive later when spring is more stable.

"Males depart Yucatan first, followed about 10 days later by the first
females. But the migration is spread over a three-month period, which
prevents a catastrophic weather event from wiping out the entire
species. This means that a few birds will arrive at any location very
early (the dots on the migration map), but the bulk of the population
will follow later, so you may not see your first hummingbird for
several more weeks. Each individual has its own internal map and
schedule, and "your" birds may arrive early, late, or anywhere within
a two-month span.
Once in North America, migration proceeds at an average rate of about
20 miles per day, generally following the earliest blooming of flowers
hummingbirds prefer. The northern limit of this species coincides with
that of the Yellow-bellied Sapsucker; if the earliest males arrive in
Canada before sufficient flowers are blooming, they raid sapsucker
wells for sugar, as well as eat insects caught in the sap. The
northward migration is complete by late May. Banding studies show that
each bird tends to return every year to the same place it hatched,
even visiting the same feeders."

I'm glad to see that the map hasn't changed since you posted your
question (I wouldn't want to "cheat"!) - here are my predictions.

BC: -
AB: 5-12
SK: 5-10
MB: 5-8
ON: 4-19
QC: 5-3
NB: 5-3
NS: 4-25
PE: 5-10
NF: 5-10

Some additional hummer links:

Habitats and Habits:
"The first arrivals of spring migrants occur in southern Ohio in late
April with a peak in mid-May. The birds follow the blooming of
columbine and lilac throughout the state"

SPECIAL 2005 SURVEY Ruby-throated Hummingbirds in CANADA
"In an attempt to clarify the actual distribution and breeding range,
through Operation RubyThroat: The Hummingbird Project we are
collecting sightings of Ruby-throated Hummingbirds and their nests in
the Canadian provinces."

The Hummingbird Society

Check out the Spring hummingbird sightings sent in from visitors in U.S. and Canada

Free Printables

Canada's new plant hardiness zone map:

Interesting - technical
Twenty-two Years of Ruby-throated Hummingbird Migration at Holiday
Beach Conservation Area, Ontario, Canada

Another interesting website - easy technical
"MIGRATION: The Rufous Hummingbird has the longest migration of any
hummingbird, more than 5,000 miles a year. It flies from central
Mexico to Alaska and back again. Hummingbirds migrate, not in flocks,
but each one entirely alone. Males leave first followed by females
several weeks later. On the south-bound journey the young leave last,
flying alone on their first migration with no adult to guide them.
In its migration to Mexico, the tiny Ruby-throated hummingbird, almost
unbelievably, tackles the sea crossing directly. Its cruising speed is
about 27 miles an hour, so if conditions are favorable, it can make
the transit, non-stop, in around 18 hours. But the passage is a
formidable one and it taxes the hummingbird to the limit of it
endurance. A head wind, even a mild one, may hamper it so severely
that it will never reach the far shore and perish at sea."
LONGEVITY: 5-10 years [or more] in the wild.

Archilochus colubris

Hummer Links

Thank you, B, I enjoyed working on this. I'll look forward to see how
I do with my predictions!

Request for Answer Clarification by brudenell-ga on 20 Apr 2005 10:29 PDT
Hello Hummer

It is going to be fun to see the
postings from now until mid-May. Naturally we will have to wait until
the 18th to see if they were any late reporters before I can 'rate'
this answer. Thank you for all of the information. Let me know when
your first arrives. Interesting to note that here the females leave
several days later in the fall...


Clarification of Answer by hummer-ga on 20 Apr 2005 10:43 PDT
B, any hope of seeing your predictions??

Yes, the females seem to stick around longer in the fall - I guess the
males lead the way in both directions.
I'll probably put the feeders out around May 1st - I'll let you know
when I'm on the map!

Till then,

Request for Answer Clarification by brudenell-ga on 20 Apr 2005 12:43 PDT
My predictions.. hmmm...

BC: -
AB: May 8
SK: May 9
MB: May 8
ON: April 20
QC: April 22
NB: April 24
NS: April 23
PE: May 7
NF: May 9

So there we are... courtesy of my crystal ball  :)


Clarification of Answer by hummer-ga on 20 Apr 2005 12:56 PDT
Holy cow... I'd best go boil up some syrup right now... 8-)

Clarification of Answer by hummer-ga on 23 Apr 2005 14:21 PDT
Congrats! Nova Scotia is yours. Neither of us got Ontario. Onward... hummer

Request for Answer Clarification by brudenell-ga on 24 Apr 2005 08:09 PDT
Thank you

I am quite surprised about Ontario. With all of the warm weather one
would have expected an earlier posting.

Someone last night was commenting that they thought that they had seen
a hummer already on the island! I find it hard to believe but I am
putting out my feeders today just in case...


Request for Answer Clarification by brudenell-ga on 01 May 2005 13:48 PDT

I wonder if we have fewer people reporting in this year? When the sun
returns to this neck of the woods tomorrow and we get a little heat I
hope that we are just a few days away from seeing our first returnees.
So far it appears that QC, NB & NS are earlier than previous years.


Clarification of Answer by hummer-ga on 02 May 2005 17:16 PDT
Hi B,

I don't know, not much action lately. The weather has slowed them down
and I bet we lost a few in that freak snowstorm last week. The one in
QC is just following the St. Lawrence River valley, it takes time for
them to climb to the higher elevations. Northern VT and NH and
southern QC are quite hilly and not as mild as in the valley or out by
you. We have two feeders out and hope to get on the map.

Till later,

Clarification of Answer by hummer-ga on 11 May 2005 09:52 PDT
Bingo! Today, May 11, noon, male. Luckily, I just refreshed my feeders
this morning, so all is right with our little world. I sent in my
report but doubt if it will get posted. It's important to send it in
anyway, as all reports are archived for future reference. Looks like
all of your guesses have passed, I only have one more to go - Alberta.
I did hear that a Rufous hummer was spotted in Grande Cache, AB a few
days ago.

Hope your little guy arrives soon!

Request for Answer Clarification by brudenell-ga on 12 May 2005 03:13 PDT
Good Morning Hummer

This is quite an educational exercise... something like waiting for a
kettle to boil. We watched the pot too carefully and the little
fellows have surprised us. The first has yet to arrive here! This is
odd as our spring seems to be somewhat advanced and is regarded by
many as one of the nicest in years. Today I will refresh the syrup.

I hope you get your dot on the map. When were your normal arrivals in
previous years?


Clarification of Answer by hummer-ga on 15 May 2005 12:08 PDT
Hi B, I didn't get my dot but did you??  Our little guy is still here
but looks mostly bored and wondering why he hurried to get here so
fast if noone else was close behind. I was worried about him because
we went below freezing a few nights in a row, but he seems fine. I
guess I've failed miserably at your little experiment, you take the
cake for this one.

Our Rose-breasted Grossbeak arrived, which is always a pleasure.
Another favorite we wait for are the Cat Birds, but they won't arrive
until later. No Blue Birds yet.

p.s. Our average arrival is around May 7 - 10 I think.

Clarification of Answer by hummer-ga on 15 May 2005 13:36 PDT
update: make that 3 male & 1 female rose-breasteds!

Request for Answer Clarification by brudenell-ga on 15 May 2005 16:20 PDT
Good evening Hummer

Of all years out of the past ten or so this has been the most unusual.
Here we are on the 15th and still no hummers buzzing around. Prior to
today's warming up we experienced two very winterlike cold days
including *snow* so maybe the little fellows know something that we

Ironically I was visiting a friend who lives inland PEI on Friday and
while we sat enjoying a hot tea at the kitchen table reflecting on the
cold weather his first hummer came by hovering in the normal location
of their yet to be hung feeder. No doubt a returnee from his southern
vacation wondering where his food was... My only concellation was that
I was able to report the sighting and obtained a dot.

Congratulations on your 4!

Still waiting on the Brudenell...


Clarification of Answer by hummer-ga on 15 May 2005 16:48 PDT
Congrats on your undot! Keep an eye open tomorrow, I bet it will be
your day and then you can get a real dot. I'll tell you, though, there
isn't much buzzing with just one (the four I mentioned are the
rose-breasted grossbeaks). Isn't it wonderful how they remember where
the feeders were last year?  How do they do that with such little

Keep me posted!

Request for Answer Clarification by brudenell-ga on 17 May 2005 06:49 PDT
Good morning Hummer

All is still quiet on the shores of the Brudenell River.

Did you see the big piece of British Columbia that showed up included
in this years' 'Breeding Range'? I wonder why? No previous year has
logged a BC sighting. However if CBC's 'The Roundup' ever discussed
hummingbirds and this map I bet the dots would appear overnight like
spring dandelions...


Clarification of Answer by hummer-ga on 17 May 2005 13:35 PDT
I know, B, I thought that was BC too at first, but it's actually AB.
BC isn't on the map at all. We only see our hummer about once per day
so it's pretty quiet here too. Hopefully things will warm up soon and
get buzzing. Keep me posted, H.

Request for Answer Clarification by brudenell-ga on 17 May 2005 15:30 PDT
Ooops! You are right. The map has changed and BC has been removed. I
did not look close enough. Amazingly there are no dots in AB yet! I
will keep you posted on arrival activity. It is hard to believe that
they have been in Nova Scotia for 3 weeks. So much for the early data
extrapolation for an early and long summer...


Clarification of Answer by hummer-ga on 21 May 2005 11:27 PDT
B, are you still hummerless??  We have confirmed two males and
possibly one female so things are getting a bit buzzier here. I'm sure
they'll arrive soon at your place, don't give up hope!  H.

Request for Answer Clarification by brudenell-ga on 23 May 2005 07:32 PDT
Hello hummer

We have common & arctic terns,blackbirds,red winged
blackbirds,bluejays,black capped chicadees,double crested
cormorants,common crackle,crows,mourning & rock doves,mallard
ducks,bald eagles,purple finches,american goldfinches,ruffed
grouse,herring gulls,great blue herons,juncos,belted
kingfishers,horned owls,ring neck pheasants, ravens,american
robins,rosefinches,sandpipers & common snipes,yellow-bellied
sapsuckers,pine siskins, bank swallows,numerous sparrows &
warblers,northern flicker woodpeckers, but not one single hummer.

Very odd! May has been a dreary wet month unlike the unusually warm
April.They may all be partying it up in Nova Scotia. But there are
starting to be sightings nearby...


Request for Answer Clarification by brudenell-ga on 24 May 2005 03:54 PDT
Good morning hummer

Moments ago one lone male was seen at one of my feeders!


Clarification of Answer by hummer-ga on 24 May 2005 07:07 PDT
Horray!! At last!! Now all's right with your world. Thank you for the
five twinklies, I enjoyed your question too, as always. Thanks for
your lovely bird list too, aren't the Great Blue Herons wonderful? We
have them in the area, but not on our place. I'll have to get
organized and make a list too. The weather has been awful, the Tulips
are miserable, but fortunately the Daffodils were quite nice.

Hope a female arrives soon!

Request for Answer Clarification by brudenell-ga on 24 May 2005 17:32 PDT
Good evening hummer

This evening one male & one female. The Brudenell clan shall continue...

You may be interested in this response to my question today to Lanny:

>Question: I was wondering when do you decide to shut down first

I stop when the incoming reports are no longer adding anything useful to
the maps. Remember, the maps are intended to help people decide when to
hang their feeders; once the birds reach Edmonton, what's left to decide?

Of course, as soon as I removed the input form, my faithful correspondent
in Slave Lake saw his first hummer! The Fat Lady has sung.

I enjoyed reading your Google exchange. When guessing arrival dates, bear
in mind that your local weather means almost nothing--it's the weather to
your south that affects the birds' progress. This spring, the jetstream
did some funny things, and the migratory advance was rather lopsided for
a couple of weeks. Many areas got their first hummers, but then the flow
was cut off by sharply-colder weather that put the rest of the horde on
hold. Go figure: your first hummingbird arrived 4 days before mine did.

This stuff is addicting...

Lanny Chambers
St. Louis, USA

Clarification of Answer by hummer-ga on 25 May 2005 17:15 PDT
B, thanks so much for sharing Lenny's message, that's really neat. I'm
glad he mentioned "weather to the south" because that's exactly what I
was thinking but he said it so much better. I hope the hummers are
still on the move and we get some more, it's still kind of quiet with
only three.

Well, enjoy your summer - take a nice deep breath of that air for me!

Request for Answer Clarification by brudenell-ga on 16 Apr 2006 02:53 PDT
I just noticed an auspicious sign. Our first hummer was recorded in
Canada 3 days ago. They are a week early.

Happy Easter H!


Clarification of Answer by hummer-ga on 16 Apr 2006 17:03 PDT
Hi B! 

What are they thinking? It looks like they are 2 weeks early to me. It
must be all those teenaged male hummers who think they are immortal,
because surely they will be struck down by a late cold snap.  I'm sure
that is what happened a few years ago - they were on their way up, due
here nice and early, when a late winter storm arrived, lasting a few
days. Well, the march of the hummers stopped and they ended up being
late. I'm sure the early birds died, probably frozen right to the
branches where they go into their little comas. So now I will worry
until the warm weather is here to stay. I sure hope we don't see one
any time soon!

Good to hear from you again :)

Clarification of Answer by hummer-ga on 16 Apr 2006 17:40 PDT
Oh, stupid me, that storm was probably the one we were talking about
in this question. I hope we're not seeing a new trend (in the hummer
migration and my brain!).  H

Request for Answer Clarification by brudenell-ga on 30 Apr 2006 17:20 PDT
Hello H

Any hummers yet?

The first for Nova Scotia was recorded today. Oddly they were a week
earlier last year in NS. This spring has been very mild and quite warm
on some days.


Clarification of Answer by hummer-ga on 01 May 2006 07:45 PDT
Thanks for the heads up, B! Just yesterday we were remarking on how
the hummers wouldn't be here yet because of the lack of food, so I
didn't check the map. After I read your message last night, I looked
at the map (yikes, they're here!) and promptly made some syrup. I
guess they must survive on insects for awhile. I now have their two
favourite feeders up, will let you know when we have our first

Thanks! The race is on - who's hummer will arrive first...

Request for Answer Clarification by brudenell-ga on 01 May 2006 20:10 PDT

A race!!!

Sure... but mine are always a little later.

Good luck!


Clarification of Answer by hummer-ga on 09 May 2006 16:07 PDT
No news yet, B, how about you?  Looks like they are everywhere but here!  H

Request for Answer Clarification by brudenell-ga on 12 May 2006 02:46 PDT
Hello H

All quiet here so far. Quite odd as we have had some very fine
weather.There has been a dot on PEI but it is not my sighting.


Clarification of Answer by hummer-ga on 14 May 2006 06:46 PDT
B, he's here!  We saw him last evening and I kept my fingers crossed
that he'd still be here in the morning. Well, there he was having his
breakfast, as pretty as a picture. Ah, now all's right with my world
and I'm sure your world will soon light up too!  H.

Request for Answer Clarification by brudenell-ga on 15 May 2006 15:52 PDT
Hello H

You win. Congratulations.

Et voila! First male hummer... moments ago at 7:45 pm. Only one so
far. Nice to see. It is a spectacular summerlike evening at the end of
a hot sunny day.

Time to refresh the feeders as they have been hanging in the heat for
over a week now.

I expect that they will be here for the next three months and three weeks.


Clarification of Answer by hummer-ga on 15 May 2006 18:59 PDT
Well, the fellow that is here isn't "ours", I'm sure. For one thing,
he only appeared when I told you, but then I didn't see him again
until tonight and only briefly. We never put up all of our feeders to
start so we can watch for the "regulars".  If they lived here before,
they go to all of the old feeder spots and if the feeder isn't there,
they look all around for it (it's fun to watch). I'm sure this guy is
new but hopefully we'll get some oldies soon. Glad to hear of your
arrival! H

Request for Answer Clarification by brudenell-ga on 09 Sep 2006 15:48 PDT
Good evening hummer(s)

Today is our first day without a sighting of our little friends. They
probably took this hot, clear day to travel south. A couple of days
ago we appeared to be down to 2. Yesterday I saw one. I am curious...
are yours still around?


Clarification of Answer by hummer-ga on 10 Sep 2006 09:37 PDT
Hi B! Yes, we have at least two here today, maybe three. I always
start getting nervous around this time, hoping everyone gets off on
their journey safely. H

Request for Answer Clarification by brudenell-ga on 29 Nov 2006 06:22 PST
Hello hummer-ga (s) 

Very sad news.

I will be most disappointed to not be able to stay in touch each
Spring. Thank you ever so much for the work that you two have done for
me here in GA. Oddly I am experiencing a sense of mourning even though
I had a feeling that it would eventually happen. Please let me know
where a person can find such excellent information on hummers in

Very best regardzzz


Clarification of Answer by hummer-ga on 29 Nov 2006 10:03 PST
Dear B (and Myo!), 

Yes, it's interesting how something can still be a shock and cause
such sadness even though we've all expected something like this for
some time. When I first heard the news, I had this flood of memories
about all of the people who I "helped" (hopefully!) over the years,
the ones who really touched me for some reason or another. You have
remained one of those people for me. Don't mourn yet, I'm sure GA will
be re-invented somewhere/somehow. is the only Hummer site that I go
to regularly although I am sure there are others. We had a Snowshoe
Hare in our front yard this morning. He was quite skinny so I took a
carrot out to him. I got only about 2 feet away but when I tossed the
carrot down he hopped away. Perhaps it is his time, just like GA.

Take care, Brudenell,
brudenell-ga rated this answer:5 out of 5 stars
This was a fun & educational experience.

Subject: Re: Early Hummingbirds... ? ?? ??? for hummer-ga
From: myoarin-ga on 16 Apr 2006 03:54 PDT
I have been waiting for this question,  :)  expecting a new one this
year, and then began to wonder how there could be a posting on April
19th, and then in May,
until I finally noticed the year.  Glad spring is coming early
somewhere  - not here in Europe.
Happy Easter!

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