About us: We own the Wild Birds Unlimited nature shop in East Lansing, Michigan,
a store that provides a wide variety of supplies to help you enjoy the birdwatching hobby.

This blog was created to answer frequently asked questions & to share nature stories and photographs.
To contribute, email me at bloubird@gmail.com.

Monday, August 31, 2009

Should I take my hummingbird feeder down to force the birds to migrate?

No, I usually leave my 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.

In the fall there is an instinctual clock that tells the hummingbirds when to head south. People still disagree over the precise mechanism within the bird that causes this. Most sources say that that food supply is not a factor and there is no reason to take down hummingbird feeders to stimulate migration. Birds that are born late in the season are vulnerable. Leaving your feeders up may provide a critical opportunity for these hummingbirds to build reserves and “catch up.”
Just before they answer the call to travel south, they eat in excess and build a layer of rich fatty fuel just under their skin. You can notice the extra fat along the back, belly, and throat. A hummingbird gains 25 – 40% extra body-weight to have enough fuel to travel 1,400 miles – with no wind of any kind. A headwind of only 10 miles per hour will cut that distance down to 600 miles and more than 20 mph will push them backward. However the ruby-throated hummingbird does take advantage of tail winds constantly. Southbound ruby-throats rebuild their reserves in the early morning, travel about 23 miles during the day and forage again in the late afternoon to keep up their body weight.


cindyzlogic said...

Hey! I'm new to birding and Hummingbirds. So, thank you very much for this informative article! We have 2 RT Hummers we see at the feeder since putting it up this Summer.

Ashley said...

I can't believe it's already Ruby-throat season! What type of feeders are you putting out? I've been looking for some new feeders and found those Perky-Pet's Top Fill models. Have you heard of them yet? They're designed for easy filling and cleaning.

Wild Birds Unlimited Mid-Michigan said...

I think the Aspects Humzinger Ultra is the very best feeder ever. They are easy to clean, easy to fill and have a lifetime guarantee. The bees don't like it because the nectar is down low and the ants don't like it because there is a built in ant moat. Aspects makes several saucer style hummingbird feeders in different sizes and different colors and they all have perches for the humming birds to sit and sip.

I wrote about hummingbird feeders in the Mar 24, 2010 post: http://ning.it/cKFdyY

Anonymous said...

Does anyone have any suggestions about hummingbird feeders that DON'T Leak?? I have brought 6 this season. 2 were very $$$ and they all drip nectar out. And o'course the bees are coming because of this and chasing the hummingbirds away. And reliable companies that sell feeders that do not leak???

Wild Birds Unlimited Mid-Michigan said...

When you are looking for a new feeder make sure it is easy to fill and easy to clean. This is important especially in hummingbird feeders which should be cleaned and refilled with sugar water at least once a week and more often during warmer weather.

My favorite hummingbird feeder is the original Wild Birds Unlimited (WBU) saucer style. This is made by Aspects Inc. These hummingbird feeders are easy to fill and more importantly easy to clean. The saucer style is leak proof and bee resistant and the built in ant-moat stops ants from reaching the nectar. The feeder has perches (I love it when they stop to drink) and three feeding ports.

The cover is bright to attract hummingbirds and has raised flowers to prevent rain from running into the bowl. Both the cover and the clear bowl are constructed with UV stable poly carbonate, the most durable plastic available and are dishwasher safe for easy cleaning. The hanging rod is solid brass. Feeders can be hung or post mounted. It comes with a lifetime guarantee, and is made in the USA. This saucer style comes in different sizes and colors too.

Then there is Aspects Jewel Box Window Hummingbird Feeder. The semicircular-shaped reservoir holds up to 8 ounces of nectar. It has three raised flowers feeding ports, an optional ant moat that surrounds the feeder, and it mounts easily to the window with suction cups or can screw into a deck. The hinged lid allows for easy filling, while a convenient latch keeps other animals from opening it. The feeder is bright red to help attract hummingbirds and it’s made in the USA with a lifetime guarantee.

But what really set it apart from other feeders was the HighView™ perch. Once hummingbirds discover the feeder, the HighView™ perch invites them to rest comfortably and drink from any of three feeding ports. While the perch is very comfortable for the hummingbirds to rest and drink it also allows you an easy unobstructed view of the beauties. Win, win!

And now I’m excited about the introduction of the HummZinger HighView™ Feeder! It takes the best features from the best selling original Wild Birds Unlimited saucer style hummingbird feeder and adds the HighView™ perch from the bestselling Jewel Box Window hummingbird feeder to create the best new feeder on the market today.

The HummZinger HighView™ feeder offers an upgrade to the classic line of saucer hummingbird feeders. The feeder includes a HighView™ perch that invites hummingbirds to rest comfortably as they drink from any of four feeding ports while also offering an unobstructed view of the birds. The built-in ant moat blocks crawling insects and the patented Nectar-Guard tips (optional) on the feeding ports prevent bees, wasps, and other flying insects from contaminating nectar. The bright red cover attracts hummers from a distance and is removed easily so the bowl can be cleaned quickly and thoroughly. It’s constructed in the USA of unbreakable polycarbonate and backed with a lifetime guarantee.

* HighView perch for optimal viewing
* Redesigned built-in ant moat
* Easy cleaning and filling
* Drip and leak proof
* Features nectar-level indicator on bowl
* 4 feeding ports
* 12 ounce capacity