When spring arrives many things come to mind: Flowers blooming, fishing, gardening, and hummingbirds.
Every spring I check out www.hummingbirds.net/map.html to check spring migration status. This website tracks spring migration of the Ruby-Throated Hummingbird which happens to be the only hummer that occupies Ohio.
Looking back at previous years maps, I found that this little hummer arrives in Ohio usually in mid-late March, but I can't help but question this since my first sighting is usually in mid April, even though I put up my feeders at the time the hummers are below Ohio.
Check out this map from last years migration tracking:
Figure 1: Spring 2011 Ruby-Throated Hummingbird Migration
Though hummingbirds average about 20 miles a day after reaching the U.S., I doesn't seem like they could reach Ohio that quickly (though they very well may).
I am not saying that I doubt hummingbirds.net's webmaster's ability to track spring migration, but it does make me wonder if some people
report a hummingbird even if they didn't see one.
I do think, however, that these maps are fairly accurate. Notice the red dot in New England that says 3/30. I believe that this particular report may have been fictitious. Here is my reasoning: If a hummingbird averages 20 miles a day it could travel 200 miles in 10 days. Since all of the reports around the North Carolina region are around the same dates (3/18, 3/19, and 3/20), I will assume they arrived around March 20th.. This seems reasonable enough, but the sighting was up in New England doesn't. That is over 500 miles, so the Hummingbird would only be half way there in 10 days. Even in 15 days they would only be 3/5 of the way there.
My point is that I think hummingbirds.net is a reliable tracking website, but a few sightings are probably made up.
Figure 2: Spring Migration 2012 (as of 03/24/12 - 18:33:38)
This is the current migration map for this year (as of the date in the photo caption above). Though the first hummingbird was sighted in Ohio on 3/19 and I put out 3 feeders on 3/16 I haven't seen any hummingbirds yet (I live in southern Ohio).
This may be due to the hummingbirds following previous years route, or some other factor that is unknow to me, though.
I will conclude this article by saying that I think these maps, overall, are pretty reliable, but I wouldn;t believe all of the reports when for the report to be reliable a hummer would have to travel 500 miles in 10 days or less.
I hope that I DID NOT dampen your faith in these maps, which is not at all what I was trying to do. Once again, I believe these maps are fairly accurate overall.