Why Migrate North in the Spring?
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A Tropical Paradise for the Winter
When it's winter in the north, many hummingbirds species are living south of the U.S. border. Warm temperatures, fresh flowers, and lots of insects make this region a tropical paradise. The ruby-throated hummingbird is pictured here among 11 other hummingbird species. Can you find it?

Why Migrate North?
Many hummingbirds migrate north in the spring, including the ruby-throated and rufous. Why don't they stay in the tropics? Why leave their winter home and take a long, dangerous journey north?

Compare Two Habitats
This map shows the two habitats of the ruby-throated hummingbird. The breeding range is where rubythroats mate, nest, and raise their young during the summer months. The winter range is in the tropics. Notice the difference in size between the two habitats. The breeding range is 6 times larger than the winter range.

Changing Seasons, Changing Habitats
The rubythroats' two habitats are marked with an X on this model of the seasons. As winter ends, more sunlight shines on the Northern Hemisphere. The sunlight warms the air and soil. Insects hatch and flowers bloom. Hummingbird food becomes plentiful.

Why Do Hummingbirds Migrate?
Scientists think migration evolved many years ago as an adaptation. Hummingbirds took advantage of the habitat that becomes available in the north during the summer season. Now, hummingbirds are born knowing by instinct that they must migrate. Migration is hard-wired into their genetic code.

Predict When Hummingbirds Will Return
As you wait for your local hummingbirds to return this spring, watch how their habitat changes. Find out what hummingbirds need and predict when your hummingbirds will return!

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