Why do hummingbirds get fat in the fall?
Nesting season is over for the hummingbirds in Michigan by the end of June. Once breeding territories no longer have to be guarded, hummingbirds wander widely. Just before they answer the call to travel south, hummingbirds eat in excess to build a layer of rich fatty fuel just under their skin. You can notice the extra fat along the belly, back, and throat. A hummingbird actually gains 25 – 40% extra body-weight to have enough fuel to migrate thousands of miles south. You will notice them getting fatter and fatter and then one day they fly to their wintering grounds.
It's not necessary to make your sugar solution stronger. The 4:1 ratio is the closest to the favorite flowers that hummingbirds visit. That would be four parts water to one part plain white sugar. Click HERE for the nectar recipe.
Should I make the sugar solution weaker to encourage them to leave?
I would continue to feed the hummingbirds the same nectar solution until they are fat enough to move further south. Don't rush them. Let them leave when they have enough energy and the weather is favorable.
DO NOT take your feeders down on Labor Day. In mid-Michigan, you can leave your hummingbird feeder up until mid-October. The rule of thumb is if you haven't seen a hummingbird for two weeks in the fall it's safe to take your feeder down. Depending on where you live it is usually at the end of September to the middle of October. The hummingbirds aren't in as big a rush to go down south as they were to find nesting grounds in the spring but they will leave us whether there is a feeder up or not.
How many species of hummingbirds are in Michigan?
Actually five species of hummingbirds have been sighted in Michigan, however most people only see the Ruby-throated Hummingbird. The male and female hummingbirds look different. Ruby-throated male's have ruby-red feathers on the throat, a green back and white belly. The females have an emerald green back and white bellies.
Other hummingbirds seen very, very rarely, in Michigan according to Hummingbirds.net are the Rufous Hummingbird, the Broad-billedHummingbird, the GreenVioletear Hummingbird and the White-eared Hummingbird.
During migration hummingbirds fly about 23 miles a day by themselves, not in flocks or on the backs of geese. Individual adult males get the urge to leave first, followed soon after by the females, and then finally the juveniles. Amazingly, once the young have gained enough weight, they find their own way to the same winter habitat as their parents - someplace where they have never been, using the GPS in their head.
It’s astonishing that a bird that weighs as little as a penny with the brain the size of a BB has traveled thousands of miles all alone and ended up in the right place every fall since the last ice age.
Some think that the rumor of hummingbirds hitching a ride with geese was started by Mr. Audubon himself. But migratory geese don't fly as far south and leave much later than hummingbirds. Geese don't start migrating until mid-September and are not gone until lakes and rivers are frozen, while hummingbirds start migrating in mid-July and are mostly gone from Michigan by mid-October.
Where do Ruby-throated hummingbirds spend the winters?
Most Ruby-throated Hummingbirds winter in southern Mexico, Central America, South America, and the West Indies. A few remain along the Gulf coast and on the Outer Banks of North Carolina.
- What is the nectar recipe for hummingbirds? http://goo.gl/MK3AU
- Fun Facts about Ruby-throated Hummingbirds http://goo.gl/jcjcr
- The Best Hummingbird Feeders http://bit.ly/L4yY3i
- Why the color on a hummingbirds’ throat flashes http://bit.ly/JZ31qX
- When did people start to feed hummingbirds?: http://bit.ly/o8Y8HR