Readers in northern areas gave been reporting that their hummingbirds have already migrated and some ask if they should take down their feeders–NO. Others have heard that they will keep the hummers from migrating if they leave the feeders up too long–Myth. Here is what the experts at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology say:
- “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.
- 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.”
It is probably even more important to make sure all the hummers, including the stragglers, get enough to fill their tiny bellies before they migrate into or through areas such as Texas, New Mexico and Arizona where many large wildfires have burned all the blooming plants that they rely upon to get sustenance during their long migration (straggles that go through areas without wildfires will find less food since they are later in the season) . Sheri Williamson, hummingbird expert who is a Co-director of the Southeast Arizona Bird Observatory and author of articles and books about hummingbirds, wrote this summer that people in local areas where there have been large wildfires should start feeding if they haven’t in the past and those who have been feeding should add feeders in order to help these hummers out. Though she was talking about Arizona, clearly the same applies to other fire-ravaged areas in New Mexico and Texas. She further encouraged those who live in states north of areas with large wildfires put out plenty of hummingbird food. Following is her quote:
- “Feed those birds well so they’re nice and fat when they take off,” Williamson said, “Maybe that’ll give them a little bit of a cushion.”
So BE A GOOD NEIGHBOR TO HUMMERS: let’s all help out those migrating hummers–keep feeders full for several weeks after the last hummer you saw (if it is freezing at night, take it in then put back out in morning) and put out lots of food both in those areas were wildfires have burned the plants and in states north of wildfire areas. How have you been a GOOD NEIGHBOR TO HUMMERS?