As the end of summer arrives in Illinois, Ruby-throated Hummingbirds are getting ready to start their migration back south to Mexico and Central America.
Crazy, right? It feels like they just got here. Honestly, I hate knowing I won’t get to see hummingbirds for a while!
At this time of year, one of the most commonly asked questions I get asked is:
“When should I take down my hummingbird feeders in Illinois?“
First, let me give you my disclaimer that there isn’t a specific date every year that hummingbirds leave Illinois to head south for migration. They rely upon their instinct to tell them when it’s time to go.
But with that being said, they do tend to leave near the same time every year.
In Illinois, I wouldn’t take your hummingbird feeders down until at least October 1st!
Most hummingbirds will have left much earlier than this date. But waiting until October 1st ensures that any stragglers or birds that are migrating late have access to your nectar!
Personally, here is my rule of thumb:
I leave my feeders up until I haven’t seen a hummingbird for at least TWO weeks.
For example, even though the birds in Illinois might start their migration on September 20th, there could be hummingbirds moving through your location later that have come from farther north.
Hummingbirds expend A LOT of energy during migration, so you don’t want to take down your feeders too early in Illinois. Trust me; it’s better to keep them up a bit too long than take them down too early.
But what happens if you aren’t around all day to watch your hummingbird feeders?
For example, you may be thinking that you work during daylight hours and have no idea if a hummingbird may have visited.
Luckily, I have a unique solution for you!
You can use EBIRD to track the southward migration of hummingbirds and to see if anyone has been seeing them in your area. You can use this data to determine when it’s time to take your nectar feeders down in Illinois.
If you want to learn how to use eBird to do this, please watch the video below!
Does leaving my feeders up prevent hummingbirds from migrating?
The short answer to this question is NO! This is a myth!
PLEASE don’t worry that leaving up your nectar feeders is preventing hummingbirds from leaving to fly south. A hummingbird’s instinct will take over and make them travel south, which is why I recommend that you leave your feeders out in Illinois until you haven’t seen any birds for a few weeks.
When do you take down your hummingbird feeders in Illinois?
Please leave a comment below.
Please make sure to mention WHERE you live!
Thanks for reading. 🙂