How Long Do I leave My Hummingbird Feeder Out in the Fall?
Updated: Jan 30
The days are getting shorter, and we are just a few days away from the Fall Solstice for the year. The days and nights may be cooler but there are still lots of flowers and most of the leaves on the trees haven't begun to turn colors. Yet, Hummingbirds and other Avians have begun their yearly trek south to warmer climates for the winter. So, how do the birds know when to leave?
Scientists tell us that birds leave when their food sources like flower nectar and small insects begin to decline or leave and when the days become shorter and cooler. In the case of Hummingbirds, they will begin to migrate even if there are plenty of nectar sources and the weather is mild. Migration in Canada and the northern US States starts as early as August. I have one reader who is in Michigan, and she reported two weeks ago that the Hummingbirds were mostly gone. If this is the case in your area, wildlife experts advise leaving your Hummingbird feeder up for an additional 3 weeks after the last bird sighting. This way, young birds, stragglers and migrating birds have to time to refuel, gain weight and have enough strength to reach their winter destination.
So, where do Hummingbirds go for the winter? Well, some of that depends on the species of Hummingbird. Ruby Throat Hummingbirds, Archilochus Colubris, which are found only east of the Rocky Mountains, fly as far south as the tip of Florida, the Caribbeans, Mexico and Panama. Other reports show sightings of Ruby Throats in South Texas, the southern US tier states and the Atlantic US coast states. If you live in these areas, you may want to consider leaving your feeders up year round.
Here is a link to a great online source with photos, facts and maps of Hummingbirds found in North and Central America: https://www.allaboutbirds.org/guide/browse/taxonomy/Trochilidae
Other Hummingbirds that are found only in the Rocky Mountain areas and to the west are: Rufous Hummingbirds, Allen's Hummingbirds, Broad-tailed Hummingbirds, Calliope Hummingbirds, Anna's Hummingbird, Black Chinned Hummingbird and the Costa Hummingbird. Most of these birds will make their way south into Mexico but a few will stay and winter along the California coast, Southern Arizona, New Mexico and Texas. I even have readers who tell me that there are Hummingbirds that winter in Las Vegas, Nevada. If you live in these areas, you'll want to keep your feeders up and maintain them during the winter, If it snows or drops below freezing, be sure to refill or warm up the nectar so it's not frozen! Hummingbirds need even more nectar to keep themselves warm in cold weather.
Hopefully, this article has given you some facts and information on fall migration for Hummingbirds and when to take down or leave your Feeders up. We are also very interested in information from our readers on sightings, types of hummingbirds in your area, the location and the time of year. Feel free to leave us comment about your experience. We love to hear from our readers!
Until next month! Happy Birding.
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