Hummingbird migration to points south is well underway for most hummers in the U.S. and Canada (except those hummers that are permanent residents in some coastal and very southern areas of the U.S.). Since many parts of the United States have experienced severe drought problems this summer, hummers hoping to stop over in those places may find that there are no blossoms to provide nectar for them or small insects to meet their needs for protein.
If you have heard that you should take down your hummingbird feeder so you don’t delay the hummer’s migration, that is incorrect. This is what the Cornell Lab of Ornithology says about that: “That’s actually a myth. A number of factors trigger the urge for birds to migrate, but the most significant one is day length. When the days get shorter, the hummingbirds will move on, regardless of whether there are still filled feeders available for them.”
Since flowers like the trumpet vine are no longer blooming in many areas, keeping hummingbird feeders out with fresh sugar water in them can be very important in providing sustenance to a hungry hummer. The Cornell Lab states, “We do, however, encourage people to keep their hummingbird feeders full for several weeks after they have seen the last hummer just in case there are stragglers in need of additional energy before they complete their long journey south.”
In addition to keeping hummingbird feeders out and filled with fresh sugar water to help migrating hummers, please keep some water out for other migrating birds that are also facing the impacts of drought. To be of most help to hummers, both those migrating and those staying around, the National Audubon Society has a lot of helpful suggestions on ‘Healthy Hummingbird Habitats.’ –this will be helpful to other birds as well as butterflies and bees too.
This is a Rufous Hummingbird in my photos, a species that used to be considered a western bird. However, recent documentation shows that not only do they visit eastern parts of the U.S. (and a little into Canada) during the winter but they are found in locations in such very eastern areas as Florida during the fall.
Are you seeing hummers migrating through your area?
If you live in more eastern parts of the U.S., have you been visited by Rufous Hummingbirds?