Keep Those Feeders Up for Late 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!

I had been planning to write this blog post in early October but, with some reports of rare hummingbirds in the east already, I thought I should do it now. Each year, I tend to post a reminder 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.

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

1. Late migrating Ruby-throated 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!

2. 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 hearty and can survive colder temperatures than our Ruby-throated Hummingbirds. This species has already been reported in the east this fall migration season.

3. Rare species are more likely to show up late in the season. There have already been some great rarities this year. Birders have reported at least two Broad-billed Hummingbirds and one Calliope Hummingbird. If you leave your feeder up, you might be the next birder to find an incredible rarity!

Keep Those Feeders Up for Late Hummingbirds©Rob Ripma
©Rob Ripma There have been two Broad-billed Hummingbirds reported in the east this year. I photographed this one in its normal range in Arizona.

Have you ever hosted a late hummingbird at your feeders? If so, what species did you have?

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