Waiting For Hummingbirds

Male ruby-throated hummingbird (photo from Wikimedia Commons)

4 April 2023

Though the next two days will feel like summer in Pittsburgh with highs of 72ºF and 82ºF, the hummingbirds will not be back yet. Where are they now? When will they get here?

Our only hummingbird, the ruby-throated (Archilochus colubris), has a wide breeding range in eastern North America and a narrow wintering range in Central America and the southern tip of Florida.

Thanks to Hummingbird Central’s spring migration map, we can see that a few daring individuals flew north inside Florida in February but most migrants showed up in Central/North Florida and on the Gulf Coast in early March. By now, 4 April, the leading edge of hummingbird migrants has covered central and coastal North Carolina and has a foothold in southeastern Virginia.

Today’s hummingbirdcentral.com snapshot shows the gap between Pittsburgh and the leading edge of hummingbirds.

Ruby-throated hummingbird migration progress as of 4 April 2023 (screenshot of map from hummingbirdcentral.com)

Will they reach Pittsburgh this month? Yes, one or two brave ones, but I predict the big push won’t get here until early May. My eBird sightings of ruby-throated hummingbirds in Frick/Schenley Parks consistently shows first arrivals on May 2-4 for the past five years.

  • 13 May 2012
  • … gap of 6 years …
  • 4 May 2018
  • 4 May 2019
  • 3 May 2020
  • 3 May 2021
  • 2 May 2022

(Go ahead, hummingbirds. Prove me wrong and arrive early!)

Watch the progress of hummingbird migration across North America at Hummingbird Central’s 2023 Spring Migration Map.

Be prepared to be jealous of locations north of us where hummingbirds have already arrived. Here’s why that happens:

(photo and range map from Wikimedia Commons; spring migration map screenshot from Hummingbird Central)

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