Expert says hummingbirds are choosing to stay in Kansas instead of migrating

Hummingbird migration seems to be starting earlier than usual, with reports indicating that some hummingbirds are even staying in the state throughout the winter season.

According to the Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks, the ruby-throated hummingbirds, which are among the smallest birds in the world, can be found in the wild nesting along streams and woodland parks. Out of the 319 species of hummingbirds living in North and South America, only 15 are found in the U.S., with the ruby-throated hummingbird being the only one regularly appearing in Kansas. These tiny birds are primarily located in the eastern half of the state. It’s worth noting that they are sometimes mistaken for an insect that imitates their appearance and behaviors.

During the winter months, hummingbirds usually migrate to southern Mexico and Central America. They return to their breeding grounds in the summer, where there is an abundance of food and less competition. According to Alice Boyle, a biology professor at K-State, the temperate weather in Kansas is generally safer for the birds to raise their young.

According to Boyle, the most terrifying period for a bird is when it is unable to fly. He explains that many birds perish even before they have the chance to fledge. Therefore, the varying levels of danger that eggs and nestlings face in different geographical locations contribute to the understanding of migration patterns.

According to Boyle, it can be challenging to determine the earlier arrival of hummingbird spring migration due to the fluctuating temperatures each year. Nonetheless, birds, in general, are returning earlier and earlier.

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According to, hummingbirds do not migrate in groups like other birds. Instead, they travel independently. It has been observed that many hummingbirds start their migration as early as February and often stay throughout the winter.

Some hummingbirds have the incredible ability to migrate across the Gulf of Mexico, covering as much as 23 miles in a single day. According to, during their migration over the Gulf, these remarkable birds can cover a staggering 500 miles at once.

According to Boyle, there have been sporadic reports from Kansas, Oklahoma, Missouri, and Arkansas of the birds remaining in-state throughout the winter.

According to Boyle, a different species of hummingbird called Anna’s hummingbird has been observed spending a significant amount of time in central Kansas during the winter. He explains that it is difficult to determine the exact reason for this behavior. However, he emphasizes that migration is instinctual for hummingbirds and other small migratory birds.

According to Boyle, hummingbird migration is an innate behavior, but these birds, like humans, also have various behavioral nuances. He explained that some aspects of hummingbird programming may not be ideal, leading to migratory mishaps. However, when these birds make mistakes, some of them are able to adapt to the changing climate and survive in increasingly warm winters.

According to Boyle, when birds successfully migrate and things go well for them, their offspring can inherit the trait to stay. Despite the fact that migration involves intricate physiological, behavioral, and neurological processes, it appears that bird migration can be easily switched on and off across different species.

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