Hummingbird Feeding in the Fall

When it comes to Humming birds and the fall, people hear things about Hummingbirds they tend to believe. Around here it is a Labor Day event. Well meaning people faithfully feed Hummingbirds starting in the early spring, throughout the summer and into the fall.

Once Labor Day arrives, to many people pull their feeders because it has been passed from mouth to mouth so many times it must be true, “Hummingbirds need to head south for the winter after Labor Day”. Unfortunately, no one has ever told the hummingbirds.

In the fall, first year hummingbirds are still putting on weight for the arduous flight ahead. The parents, who spent the summer feeding their offspring, finally get to keep all their food to themselves. Can you imagine what happens when the Hummingbirds come to their feeders to find they are missing?

Taking in hummingbird feeders too early, is like hauling away your refrigerator on Labor Day. What do the birds do for the energy they need to head south? They are forced to start their migration early, because unlike a natural process where the food supply goes away naturally, the go from feast to famine overnight.

Not only the effect on the local birds, but pulling your feeder from the yard effects any hummingbirds who are looking for food on their flight south. They may remember there was food their last year and head for your feeder. Only to find air where the feeder was last year.

There is a number of weeks between Labor Day and frost. During these weeks, local and traveling hummingbirds need your feeder. Leave it out with fresh syrup. It doesn’t cost much, and the hummingbirds will remember your feeder on the return trip.

I have two pictures here. One about syrup, and the second about cleaning your feeder. I have two feeders, so the process is simple. I fill up the second feeder with a ratio of 1:4 sugar to water. In my case that is 1/2 cup sugar to 2 cups water. Some people use less sugar and others use more. The water needs to be fresh and clean. Try not to get your fingers or other containments in the mix. I use room temperature water, and the sugar dissolves within minutes with steady stirring.

Many people use a 1:4 sugar to water ratio

Many people use a 1:4 sugar to water ratio

This second picture is how I clean the feeders between use. Feeders are community food bowls for Hummingbirds. They get dirty and moldy, so I take care to clean them well. First I wash and rinse them just like any pot or pan. Then I soak the feeder in a bucket of water and bleach. On the third morning I take it out to let the feeder dry out. Later in the day, I make a fresh batch of syrup and put it out in the now cleaned feeder.

It's a good idea to bleach any bird feeder now and then

It’s a good idea to bleach any bird feeder now and then