Sep 30, 2020 | Featured in: Watching Backyard Birds, October 2017

Keep Your Hummingbird Feeders Up

A rufous hummingbird visits a backyard feeder on a gray fall day.
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You've probably heard the myth: Take down your hummingbird feeders in the fall or the hummers will "forget" to migrate. It's not true. Birds, including the hummingbirds at our feeders, are programmed by instinct to migrate when their inner clocks tell them to leave. Changes in daylight (in terms of the length and intensity of sunlight) and weather dictate the birds' departure date. There's no way your feeder will interfere with a bird's migratory urge unless the bird is hindered from migrating by some other factor such as illness or injury. Sick or injured birds and late migrants from points to the north of you will benefit from your late-fall feeding station. Leaving your hummer feeders up will do no harm, and it might even do some good. Just make sure your feeders are clean and the solution is fresh. No need to keep the feeders full at this time of year, but do provide a bit of fresh sugar water until it starts to freeze overnight.



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  • I’ve been enjoying goldfinches eating coneflower/ echinacea seeds in my new pollinator garden! I will leave the plants out all winter for them if the seeds keep that long? Or should I deadhead and put them in a dry area? Im in CT and thought they migrated, but didn’t know they put in winter coats! What do they eat in winter without bird feeders?
    by Anne Sheffield, Sat, 04 Sep 2021
  • Hi Gary, I will pass your question along to Birdsquatch next time I see him. He knows infinitely more about nocturnal wildlife than I do. Where do you live? That's pretty important in figuring out the answer. But the thief could be raccoons, deer, or flying squirrels. Do you live in the woods? Are there trees near your feeder, or must the culprit climb a shepherd's hook or pole? Dawn Hewitt, Watching Backyard Birds
    by Dawn Hewitt, Mon, 30 Aug 2021
  • This breaks my heart. God strengthen your spirit and comfort your heart.I am fortunate to be taking a vacation next month, hopefully before sky high inflation hits and I can no longer afford it.
    by Ironweeds, Fri, 27 Aug 2021
  • What is emptying my jelly feeder overnight.
    by Gary Vandervest, Wed, 25 Aug 2021
  • Thank you, Dawn. I'm close enough to Ohio (Ann Arbor, Michigan) that I went ahead and took my tubes down and scoured clean all my bird baths. I won't put up my tubes this winter, just my trays and safflower only just to keep the bullies away for a while.
    by Pat Moore, Mon, 09 Aug 2021