Keep Feeders Up for Late Migrating Fall Hummingbirds

It's the time of year when people start to thing about taking their feeders down for their hummingbirds. But, don't take them down quite yet!

hummingbird at a sugar water feederCourtesy Raven Outllette
Ruby-throated hummingbird

Each year, I remind fellow birders that leaving your hummingbird feeders up will not cause the birds not to migrate. Although they might fight like crazy over the feeder with other hummingbirds, they don’t like it enough to risk the freezing northern winters with no bugs for them to eat. Psst—here’s how hummingbirds survive winter.

With my annual reminder done, I thought I’d let you know why it’s important to keep your feeders out for fall hummingbirds.

Migrating Hummingbirds Need Energy

Late migrating fall hummingbirds can use the extra energy from a feeder as they move south. It’s important for these birds to have an easy source of food so they can quickly refuel after cold nights. Although your summer resident hummers might be gone, there are still some to the north that will be coming through!

Check out 7 facts about ruby-throated hummingbirds you should know.

Look for Rufous Hummingbirds in Fall

Rufous hummingbirds come east every year and you are more likely to see one at your feeders in October and November. This species is very hardy and can survive colder temperatures than ruby-throated hummingbirds. This species is often reported in the east during fall migration season. Discover the top 5 birding hotspots for fall migration.

Chance of a Rare Species Sighting

Rare hummingbird species are more likely to show up late in the fall season. Birders have reported broad-billed hummingbirds and calliope hummingbirds. If you leave your feeder up, you might be the next birder to find an incredible rarity! Here’s answers to common questions about hummingbird behavior.

Rob Ripma
Rob Ripma, a lifelong Indiana resident, has traveled and birded extensively throughout the Americas.