Sep 26, 2018 | Featured in: Watching Backyard Birds, October 2017

Ask Birdsquatch: Hummer Feeder Seasonal Timing

Should you take your hummingbird feeder down in the fall?
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Dear Birdsquatch:

The weather in my part of the country gets pretty cold after Halloween, so I'm wondering when I should take my hummingbird feeders down for the winter. I don't want to keep the little buzzbombs here so late in the season that their tails freeze off. Got any woodsy wisdom for me?

—Michael Dropp, Sperryville, Virginia

Dear Michael,

The only reason to take in your feeders is to prevent them from freezing and cracking. The presence of a feeder doesn't prevent hummingbirds from migrating. They go when their internal clocks tell them it's time. I'm a believer that keeping a clean, filled hummingbird feeder available for late migrants is a good thing. Imagine how helpful a source of food and energy would be for a late-migrating juvenile rubythroat, trying to get south ahead of the seasons. And for a bonus, your feeder might attract a vagrant hummer species from the West. Most southeastern states have winter records of one or more of the western hummer species, such as rufous, Allen's, Anna's, broad-tailed, black-chinned, and Calliope. When the temperatures start to drop below freezing, you can take your feeder in at night and put it back out in the morning. Or, if the thought of a visiting vagrant doesn't appeal to you, I'd say take your feeders in when you don't see any visitors for three or four days running. Do your friends call you Mic Dropp? Because that's a cool name.



About Birdsquatch

Birdsquatch is WBB's tall, hairy, and slightly stinky columnist. He is a bigfoot who has watched birds all his life. His home range is unknown.

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    by fluffypeanutcat, Tue, 25 Sep 2018
  • This is a good point. While cleaning mine, I kinda got the impression the cheep cheeps were waiting on me since they started chirping as soon as I brought it outside again. I swear they are so smart. Within five minutes of filling the feeder up, they are there to feast.cheers Cheep cheeps!
    by Kimber timbers, Fri, 20 Jul 2018
  • Hahaha, I love the ending remark "that area will have already been well -fertilized!"I've noticed that there are more cheep cheeps right after I clean the bird feeder compared to how many there are right before it was cleaned...so cheep cheeps do like and appreciate a well maintained feeder and they are worth the effort. : )
    by Kimber timbers, Fri, 20 Jul 2018
  • The storm saying seems true so far. We had as party at our bird feeder right before our last storm... 6 at once but different cheeps cheeps would come and go so there were more than 6 for sure..and squirrels eating with the birds
    by Kimber timbers, Fri, 13 Jul 2018
  • I know and do clean my feeders both for seed and for hummingbird liquid. I have a vase full of different size brushes that are only for this purpose. I have friends however who NEVER clean their feeders or bird baths, and it’s gross! I am ringing this article and will have to give out to the few offenders I know. I can’t imagine looking at such mess and not cleaning it, but not everyone thinks resale. Part of responsible bird watching/loving is to make the time and take the effort to do this.
    by Carol, Tue, 10 Jul 2018