Brilliantly colored ruby-throated hummingbirds (Archilochus colubris) migrate to Mexico and Central America every fall, returning to the Eastern states in spring. While their arrival times vary slightly, in general, the hummers return to Tennessee in late March. Gardeners may not see the first arrivals, because some are only passing through, grabbing a few sips from flowers or feeders, and continuing north to their summer habitats. Hummingbird feeders in middle Tennessee should be put out in mid- to late March, and no later than April 1.
While the ruby-throated hummingbird is the only hummingbird species that lives and breeds on the East Coast, other species sometimes go off-course and end up in Tennessee gardens for the winter. Species normally found on the West Coast, such as Anna's, Allen's, broad-tailed, Calliope and rufous hummingbirds, occasionally overwinter in the Eastern states. If you see hummingbirds in fall or winter, continue to maintain a feeder for them.
The Migration Map
To track bird migration north in spring, Journey North maintains maps of seasonal migrations, including the ruby-throated hummingbird migration. By clicking on the magnifying glass, and then on the state, you can enlarge the map to view the hummingbird reports. A click on the "i" button and then on a dot on the map provides the date and location of each hummingbird sighting. Begin putting out feeders a few days before the anticipated arrival of the hummingbirds.