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Rufous Hummingbirds Head South

Destination: Mexico!

Right now in the Northwest, male Rufous Hummingbirds are heading south. By late July, they will pour into southeastern Arizona on their way to wintering areas in Mexico. The females and their offspring will leave later in the summer, some lingering until mid-September. Along the way, they will take advantage of the wildflowers blooming in north-south mountain ranges.

Wherever you live, you can document the comings and goings of hummingbirds at Audubon’s Hummingbirds at Home program. Together, we can help hummingbirds!

Full Transcript



Rufous Hummingbirds Head South

Written by Frances Wood

 This is BirdNote!

[“J” flight display sounds of the male Rufous Hummingbird]

If you live in the Northwest, maybe you’ve noticed that those rusty-orange speed demons that have adorned your flowers and nectar-feeders since March – male Rufous Hummingbirds – are fewer in number. The jewel-like males are movin’ out! They’re heading south. 

Early last spring, they came north through the lowlands, in tune with early spring blossoms and insects. However, most southbound hummers take a different route. They follow north-south mountain ranges and take advantage of the flush of wildflowers - and perhaps the updrafts - at higher elevations. In fact, there’s good evidence that some northwest-nesting hummingbirds loop well east and then south on a seasonal air movement called the Great Basin High, to follow a "floral highway" along the Rocky Mountains. 

By late July, male Rufous Hummingbirds are pouring into southeastern Arizona, soon to continue south to wintering areas in Mexico. The females, who take on all the nesting duties, and their offspring, will follow later in the summer, some lingering until mid-September. 

[Call and softer wing-hum of female Rufous Hummingbird]

Whatever your location, you can document the comings and goings of hummingbirds, at Audubon’s Hummingbirds at Home program.  By doing so, you help ensure the future of these often brilliant and feisty birds.

[Repeat display and call of Rufous Hummingbird]

Though they’re leaving, you’ll find a link to Hummingbirds at Home on our website,


Sounds of the Rufous Hummingbird provided by The Macaulay Library of Natural Sounds at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, New York, recorded by G.A. Keller.

Ambient track recorded by C. Peterson

BirdNote’s theme music was composed and played by Nancy Rumbel and John Kessler.

Producer: John Kessler

Executive Producer: Chris Peterson

© 2013 Tune In to    July 2017   Narrator: Michael Stein

Sights & Sounds

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