(WGHP) — Hummingbirds are a welcome sight every Spring.

These incredible little birds spend their winters in Mexico and Central America, and then start making their way to their breeding grounds across the southern united states around late January or February, then head a little further north later into the spring.

Hummingbird Central tracks hummingbird migration between January and May every year, with an interactive map tool to show viewer submitted sightings throughout the spring as the little birds make their journeys.

Photo Courtesy of Hummingbird Central

According to Hummingbird Central, the birds fly by day. Food sources are more abundant during the day. They also tend to fly low, so it’s easy to find their food. They’re experts at using tailwinds to help reach their destination faster. Research suggests that a hummingbird can travel as much as 23 miles in one day! For a bird that tiny, that’s quite the journey.

As you can see on the map, the east coast is dominated by Ruby-Throated Hummingbirds. It is the most common hummingbird seen east of the Mississippi. Males of the species have an iridescent red patch on their throats and are a little smaller than their female counterparts.

Hummingbird Central provides a way for bird watchers to report sightings of the little birds, with its map created from viewer-submitted sightings.

They’ll begin their journey back south in August or September.

How can you attract hummingbirds?

As spring rolls in, we’ll be seeing more and more hummingbirds across North Carolina. If you’d like to attract hummingbirds to your yard during their journey, Hummingbird Central has a list of hummingbird-friendly flowers you can plant in your garden. They really enjoy the color red, so red flowers are a great way to attract them!

Plants they love

  • Lantana
  • Butterfly Bush
  • Zinnias
  • Pentas
  • Milkweed
  • Batface Cuphea
  • Fire Bush
  • Nasturtiums
  • Coreopsis

Buying a hummingbird feeder? Find one with a ‘bee-guard’ or one that doesn’t have the color yellow, which seems to attract stinging insects. Avoid pre-mixed hummingbird food, especially ones with red dye. Make your own by mixing four parts warm water with one part sugar. You can boil the water to remove potential impurities and fully dissolve the sugar, but it isn’t always necessary.

Nestle your feeder amongst some nice bushes for hummingbirds to rest on and you’ve created a lovely way station for these essential pollinators.

You can learn more about hummingbirds at Hummingbird Central.