For the Birds: Hummingbird feeder timing

Here is the latest For the Birds article. It was published a few weeks ago in newspapers, but is still relevant as September comes to an end.

Photo by Chris Bosak Hummingbirds are migrating now and will be throughout the rest of the month.

When should I bring in my hummingbird feeders? It’s a common question and may be answered the same way as so many other questions may be answered: It depends.

The answer depends on your tolerance for changing the sugar water in the feeders and your patience for watching a feeder that may not receive any visitors. Hummingbirds started to migrate a few weeks ago and some have gone south already.

With migration under way, now is definitely not the time to bring the feeders in. Hummingbirds need to pretty much double their weight to make their arduous migration, particularly when they reach the Gulf of Mexico and fly the 500 miles without rest.

Sure, there are plenty of natural food sources for hummingbirds this time of year, but an easy meal at a feeder now and then gives the tiny birds a bit of a break. Patches of jewelweed are another favorite of hummingbirds and they are still blooming. Other than feeders, I think I’ve seen more hummingbirds at jewelweed (touch-me-not) patches than any other venue.

Back to the question at hand. When should you bring in hummingbird feeders? Most of the hummingbirds will be gone by the last week of September or so; therefore I’d keep the feeders going until at least the end of this month.

There are some stragglers, however, so someone with more patience may want to keep the feeders out until the end of October. It’s not likely you will see any hummingbirds in October, but the rare opportunity to see one that late in the season may be enough to inspire some people to keep trying.

If you do extend the hummingbird feeder season, be sure to keep the sugar water fresh. With cooler fall temperatures, it is not necessary to change the water as often as in the summer, but it should still be changed every few days.

As an added incentive to keep the feeders up longer, many of the late hummingbirds (October and even November) are western species that are not often seen east of the Mississippi River, let alone in New England. Rufous hummingbirds are the most commonly seen western species in New England in the fall. Other species, such as Allen’s or calliope, may be seen as well. I remember going to see a black-chinned hummingbird in southern Connecticut back in November 2013. This bird was feeding on a late-blooming flower.

You never know what you’ll see if you keep your hummingbird feeders up later than usual. Odds are, you’ll see nothing. But the rewards can be great.

A few hummingbirds – while they last

Photo by Chris Bosak A ruby-throated hummingbird hovers around salvia blooms in New England, September 2020.

The hummingbirds that haven’t flown south yet will likely do so soon. Here are a few shots of “my” hummingbirds that are still hanging around.

Photo by Chris Bosak A ruby-throated hummingbird hovers around salvia blooms in New England, September 2020.
Photo by Chris Bosak A ruby-throated hummingbird hovers around salvia blooms in New England, September 2020.

Moving forward

Photo by Chris Bosak
A ruby-throated hummingbird perches on a rope in New England, May 2020. Merganser Lake.

For the past several weeks I’ve posted a Birds to Brighten Your Day photo, featuring my best shot from the day before. Now that it’s Memorial Day Weekend, states are slowly opening and migration is winding down, it’s a good time to move on from Birds to Brighten Your Day. I hope your days are indeed brightening and you keep on checking out BirdsofNewEngland.com. I still hope to post something every day. It could be my best shot from the day before, or even that day, or one of the many shots I didn’t use over the past several weeks. Of course, I’ll continue to post my latest For the Birds nature column too.

I’ll start off with a ruby-throated hummingbird. I’m not sure how they missed being featured on Birds to Brighten Your Day because they are always a fan favorite. “My” hummingbirds arrived on May 1 (or was it May 2?) and have been buzzing around ever since. For years, I never had luck attracting hummingbirds. Now that I’m several years into getting them I consider them an integral part of summer.

Hummingbird Week, photo 7

Photo by Chris Bosak
A ruby-throated hummingbird perches on a thorny branch.

I’ll be venturing out of New England for a few days and don’t want the birds here to think I forgot about them so I’m instituting my own Hummingbird Week. Each day this week I’ll post a new or old photo of a ruby-throated hummingbird, the only hummer that occurs regularly in New England. There is no such thing as too many hummingbird photos, after all. Each day will also include a joke or fun fact about hummingbirds. This post will wrap up Birds of New England’s Hummingbird Week.

Fun Fact: Ruby-throated hummingbirds spend their winters in Central America or southern Mexico.

Hummingbird Week, photo 6

Photo by Chris Bosak A Ruby-throated Hummingbird sips nectar from Canna flower in Danbury, Conn., summer 2016.
Photo by Chris Bosak A Ruby-throated Hummingbird sips nectar from Canna flower in Danbury, Conn., summer 2016.

I’ll be venturing out of New England for a few days and don’t want the birds here to think I forgot about them so I’m instituting my own Hummingbird Week. Each day this week I’ll post a new or old photo of a ruby-throated hummingbird, the only hummer that occurs regularly in New England. There is no such thing as too many hummingbird photos, after all. Each day will also include a joke or fun fact about hummingbirds.

Fun Fact: On average, hummingbirds beat their wings about 50 times per second.

Hummingbird Week, photo 5 (Happy Fourth of July)

Photo by Chris Bosak A Ruby-throated Hummingbird hovers near a feeder at the Errol (N.H.) Motel in the summer of 2015.
Photo by Chris Bosak
A Ruby-throated Hummingbird hovers near a feeder at the Errol (N.H.) Motel in the summer of 2015.

I’ll be venturing out of New England for a few days and don’t want the birds here to think I forgot about them so I’m instituting my own Hummingbird Week. Each day this week I’ll post a new or old photo of a ruby-throated hummingbird, the only hummer that occurs regularly in New England. There is no such thing as too many hummingbird photos, after all. Each day will also include a joke or fun fact about hummingbirds. This is one of my favorites because of its patriotic feel.

Fun Fact: There are more than 300 species of hummingbirds, all occurring in the Western Hemisphere. About 12 species may be found in the U.S. with the ruby-throated hummingbird the only one regularly occurring east of the Mississippi River.

Hummingbird Week, photo 4

Photo by Chris Bosak A Ruby-throated HummingAbird perches on a branch in Brookfield, Conn., summer 2016.
Photo by Chris Bosak
A Ruby-throated Hummingbird perches on a branch in Brookfield, Conn., summer 2016.

I’ll be venturing out of New England for a few days and don’t want the birds here to think I forgot about them so I’m instituting my own Hummingbird Week. Each day this week I’ll post a new or old photo of a ruby-throated hummingbird, the only hummer that occurs regularly in New England. There is no such thing as too many hummingbird photos, after all. Each day will also include a joke or fun fact about hummingbirds.

Q: What does a cat call a hummingbird?

Continue reading

Hummingbird Week, photo 3

Photo by Chris Bosak A female Ruby-throated Hummingbird sips juice from a berry in Norwalk, Conn., summer 2014.

I’ll be venturing out of New England for a few days and don’t want the birds here to think I forgot about them so I’m instituting my own Hummingbird Week. Each day this week I’ll post a new or old photo of a ruby-throated hummingbird, the only hummer that occurs regularly in New England. There is no such thing as too many hummingbird photos, after all. Each day will also include a joke or fun fact about hummingbirds.

Fun fact: Their wings aren’t the only things that move fast as a hummingbird’s tongue can sip from a feeder at 13 times per second.

Hummingbird Week, photo 1

Photo by Chris Bosak A Ruby-throated Hummingbird perches on a feeder at the Errol (N.H.) Motel in the summer of 2015.

Photo by Chris Bosak
A Ruby-throated Hummingbird perches on a feeder at the Errol (N.H.) Motel in the summer of 2015.

I’ll be venturing out of New England for a few days and don’t want the birds here to think I forgot about them so I’m instituting my own Hummingbird Week. Each day this week I’ll post a new or old photo of a ruby-throated hummingbird, the only hummer that occurs regularly in New England. There is no such thing as too many hummingbird photos, after all. Each day will also include a joke or fun fact about hummingbirds. Let’s kick it off with this classic …

Q: Why do hummingbirds hum?

Continue reading

A few yard visitors, part II

Photo by Chris Bosak A ruby-throated hummingbird visits fuscia blooms in Danbury, Conn., May 2019.

The ruby-throated hummingbirds came back a bit late this year, to my yard anyway. Last year it was late April. This year it was early May. Regardless, they are back and buzzing around like they own the place.