When is the BEST time to take down your hummingbird feeders?

As the end of summer arrives, hummingbirds are getting ready to start their migration back south.

when to take down hummingbird feeder

 

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?

As much as I wish I could give you a specific date, the best time to put your nectar feeders away varies from year to year. And the timing is also different depending on where you live!

 

Personally, here is my rule of thumb:

 

I leave my feeders up until I haven’t seen a hummingbird for at least TWO weeks.

 

Here’s the reasoning behind my rationale:

 

Leaving your nectar feeders up for a few weeks after you see the LAST hummer ensures that any birds that migrate through your area later on still have access to your precious sugar water.

 

For example, even though the birds near you start their migration on September 20th, there could be hummingbirds moving through your location weeks later that have come from farther north.

whento take hummingbird feeders down

Hummingbirds expend A LOT of energy during migration, so you don’t want to take down your feeders too early. Trust me; it’s better to keep them up a bit too long than take them down too early.

 

Personally, I live in Ohio. It seems that I normally see my last Ruby-throated Hummingbird in the middle of September. So that means I am usually taking my feeders down around the beginning of October. As you go farther south, these dates will be later and later. As you go farther north, these dates will be earlier and earlier.

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 check 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.

 

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 until you haven’t seen any birds for a few weeks.

 

Do the hummingbirds near me migrate?

when to take hummingbird feeders down

 

So for most of us that live in the United States and Canada, the hummingbirds we see during summer migrate south for the winter.

 

But some of you are extremely lucky and have hummingbirds that live near you ALL YEAR LONG!

 

In general, if you live in California, southern Texas, Oregon, Washington, southern British Columbia, Arizona, or New Mexico, then you probably don’t have to take your hummingbird feeders down at all. You have hummingbirds that never leave. 🙂

 

For more information about the types of hummingbirds that live near you, check out the article below.

 


When do you take down your hummingbird feeders?

 

Please leave a comment below.

 

I’d love to know WHERE you live and WHEN you normally see your last hummingbirds migrating.

 

Thanks for reading. 🙂

46 Comments

  1. I’m in Northern New Mexico, Taos. I have 8 feeders up and at the height of the season I had as many as 5 birds at each feeder, and more buzzing around, usually right after the young have started flying.
    I have watched the numbers dwindle, but there are still a couple die hard Broad tails sticking around, so I have been keeping 4 of the large feeders filled with fresh sugar water. I have taken the small ones down.

  2. We live in southeast Missouri. At the beginning of the season we had 6 hummers. Now we have more than 20 and they are still fluttering about all day long. I keep 8 feeders full constantly for them.

  3. Be patient! As soon as one or two notice your feeder, they will return year after year. You can also check your recipe for the right proportion of sugar to water and remember…no red coloring. It doesn’t serve any purpose and is bad for them.

  4. 06 September 2022 – Southwest Iowa. Hummingbirds are still going strong. I have a feeder right outside my office window plus two more in the back yard. I’m seeing a lot of activity on all feeders every day. It’s been very warm (80s & 90s) so I intend on leaving the feeders up until I stop seeing them at least a couple of weeks. Probably will be into October before I take them down for the winter.

  5. I live in Northeastern Ontario and in warmer years I have seen them into late September. Otherwise, I don’t usually see any past the middle of the month. As for the males, I haven’t seen one for a couple of weeks.

  6. From Barrie, On – an hour north of Toronto: we have had them busy around our place the past week or so. They’ve been coming south I suppose and they are a joy to watch. Chasing the chickadees away too.

  7. I have a trail cam on my babies so sadly I will know for sure when they have left me I will be so sad but at least I will be able to rewatch my trail cam videos until they return in the spring

  8. Zone 6b near Quakertown in Pennsylvania and I still see my hummers all over the Lantana as of yesterday. This year I had more than other years and would see them often each day, some fighting over flowers. They love to hover in front my face and even look in my backdoor to watch me in the kitchen. They use the feeder after done with flowers. They brought me much joy and I will miss them!

  9. Reno,NV
    Birds have been slowing down. Been seeing a few dozen a day ,now about just a few birds. Last one I seen looked very small and skinny. Just filled some of the favorite feeders with new nectar.

  10. We live in western NY state, about 30 miles north of the Pennsylvania border, and we take ours down the last week of September. Done this same thing for at least the last 10 years. About 3 weeks ago I viewed 9 hummers sitting on one of our feeders, all at the same time… the most we’ve ever seen like that.

  11. We’re located in southwestern Oregon and feed several Annas across the winter. We take the feeders in just after sundown and set them out again when the morning temp. gets just above freezing – the birds typically aren’t active before that since they’ve usually been in short-term ‘hibernation’ overnight and it takes them awhile to get going.

  12. That’s amazing. It looks like I’ve done it the wrong way so far. When I watched the number of hummingbirds decrease day by day, with only a few left, two or three days later I lowered the hummingbird feeding tube. But now that I understand, I should leave it on for a few more weeks. OK, I’ll do it for this summer. Thanks for your sharing.

  13. The hummers left early this year from east central Iowa – Oct 3rd. I still have one feeder out doe at least another week.

  14. Melisse,
    HummingbirdHeaters on Etsy sells a Hummingbird Feeder Heater! (He used to sell them at Wild Birds Unlimited). It’s $40, and you could DIY one, but it’s totally worth it. I have had it a couple of years and it’s great. It just uses a nightlight bulb. Doesn’t heat the nectar, just keeps it from freezing. I would forget to bring my feeder in, or take it back out, so it is great. I just leave it turned on when we get down below freezing. You get colder up there than I do, since I am just outside Oly, so for you it would be even better. His new version looks even better.

    To the people that will comment how easy would be to DIY one…yes you could DIY one (we even have a 3D printer now), but he’s also a Washingtonian and I like supporting local businesses. And this thing is THICK. It has held up for years as I mentioned, and I leave it out all winter long. We have weird weather so that’s November through Mid-March sometimes. I have changed the lightbulb twice I think? It’s a great product!!

  15. I LIVE ON LONG ISLAND. THIS YEAR I PLANTED FLOWERS FOR THEM & PUT UP A FEEDERFOR THEM…BUT THEY NEVER CAME. I WAS A LITTLE DISDSAPOINTED. I HAVE SEVERAL OTHER FEEDERS IN THE BACK YARD & GO THRU TONS(100 LBS.) OF DIFFERENT TYPES OF BIRD FEED.

  16. I leave at least 1 feeder up all year even when I have to thaw it out every morning. We have 2 Anna that hang around all year here in Bellingham, WA

    1. Melisse,
      HummingbirdHeaters on Etsy sells a Hummingbird Feeder Heater! (He used to sell them at Wild Birds Unlimited). It’s $40, and you could DIY one, but it’s totally worth it. I have had it a couple of years and it’s great. It just uses a nightlight bulb. Doesn’t heat the nectar, just keeps it from freezing. I would forget to bring my feeder in, or take it back out, so it is great. I just leave it turned on when we get down below freezing. You get colder up there than I do, since I am just outside Oly, so for you it would be even better. His new version looks even better.

      To the people that will comment how easy would be to DIY one…yes you could DIY one (we even have a 3D printer now), but he’s also a Washingtonian and I like supporting local businesses. And this thing is THICK. It has held up for years as I mentioned, and I leave it out all winter long. We have weird weather so that’s November through Mid-March sometimes. I have changed the lightbulb twice I think? It’s a great product!!

      (Not sure why this didn’t post as a reply to you the first time, but wanted to make sure you see it)

  17. I live in the northernmost area of southwest Louisiana. I stop filling my feeder when the feeder is no longer showing evidence of hummingbirds feeding. If the level of nectar is not going down then I no longer refill my feeder.

  18. Tennessee…hummingbirds showed up here around the 2nd week of April and, by the time August came around we had 25/30 hummingbirds. Now we take them down some time between the 2nd week to the last week of October. Because there’s so many we clean and refill our 6 feeders every 2 days. We have to because within the 2nd day there isn’t any food left and I can’t stand the thought of my little buddies going hungry.

  19. I live in northwest Minnesota. We usually see hummingbirds into the 3rd week of September and I leave the feeders up until the first week in October. We didn’t see many hummers early this year but maintained four feeding stations. As the summer progressed we started seeing more and I increased the number of feeders. I now maintain nine regular feeders and two very small window feeders. The hummers pretty much drain six cups of nectar in three days At any given time we have 6-8 hummingbirds competing for feeding rights. Love these little friends.

  20. I live in northeast Ohio. I generally see hummers through the second week of October (although last year it was the end of September). I leave my feeders up until the end of October. You might think I’m nuts, but my hummers signal, just before they leave, by flying to a deck door and hovering up and down for a while.

  21. We live in Greensboro,NC & our last sighting is around Oct 5-10th.
    I always mark the calendar.
    They typically arrive by Memorial Day weekend , although people claim to have seen them around the first of May. We have tons of flowers for them, as well as 2 feeders – always kept fresh. Our Hummers love chilled nectar!😁

  22. I don’t plan on taking down my feeders until mid October, but the first of Sept. was the very first time I saw a hummer take advantage of my DIY hummingbird bath! I was SO excited I didn’t have my camera ready! But now I know that my efforts were not in vain! Hopefully, they’ll return next year to make me happy!

  23. I did the same thing here in Georgia north Georgia I love the hummingbirds I have up like eight feeders and change them out every few days actually they empty them pretty much and then I’ll take them down clean them and refill. My favorite birds I love them so much and I to try to spoil them

  24. I live in east central Iowa and usually see the hummers leave around Oct. 16. I leave 1 or 2 feeders out till the end of the month. They get very active beginning in August so have a total of 5 feeders that I bring in every night (raccoons will destroy them otherwise) and clean and put in fresh nectar every day. They are so spoiled and a couple of them are pretty chubby already. It is a commitment but I look at it as a conservation effort. I feed all the birds and critters that come into my yard. Its a part time job!

  25. I live in Florida and have Ruby-throated hummingbirds and Black-chinned hummingbirds pretty much all year long so always have the feeders up with fresh nectar. I know from other bird-loving friends that this in not all that common – even people who live in the same county don’t have them year round.

  26. I live in Devine, Texas (35 miles southwest of San Antonio). According to my yearly notes, I saw Ruby throated and Black Chin hummingbirds until November 3rd last fall of 2020. I kept my feeders up until the middle of November last year. May have to do the same this year. 😉

  27. I live in the LaCrosse WIsconsin area. I have the saucer feeders and one female keeps the others away. Occasionally a male comes in. Love watching them.

  28. Hi Diane, Here in Massachusetts the male ruby throat (the only species we have) headed south 2 weeks ago, so now all that remain a females at our feeders. I’m sorry to see them go.

    A fellow birder

    Kevin

  29. Jo Ann Spence
    Southern California
    I have had 3 hummers year round for years. Also from this last March to May this last year I had about 25 or so had to fill 2 24 ounce feeders each day. So much fun to watch.

  30. We live in Northern Alabama. The past three years it is like someone turns a switch off In the 3rd week of October. One day and evening Hummingbirds are swarming and fighting over the feeders like normal – the next day they are gone. We leave the feeders up till Thanksgiving for any late travelers but then we get to enjoy Woodpeckers and House Finches as they come and drink.

  31. One person responded earlier from the west coast. In the west we have non migratory Anna hummingbirds so the author should have stated that fact for us west coast folks. Leave your feeders up all year, as long as they are cleaned regularly and use a device to keep the nectar from freezing. Author should amend his article to accommodate this information

    1. Mike,
      He did mention that in his article:

      “But some of you are extremely lucky and have hummingbirds that live near you ALL YEAR LONG!

      In general, if you live in California, southern Texas, Oregon, Washington, southern British Columbia, Arizona, or New Mexico, then you probably don’t have to take your hummingbird feeders down at all. You have hummingbirds that never leave. 🙂”

  32. I live in Middle Tennessee. We are seeing alot of Hummingbirds right now (Sept. 1) I don’t hang feeders, but have planted Althea bushes for the Hummingbirds. we see about 2-3 a day. Because they are close to my windows, we get a good view.

  33. Morris, Illinois – I leave mine up until the 2nd week of November. We’ve had hummingbirds as late as Halloween visiting our feeders.

  34. Pat Henderson, I live in Redding, CA. area. About 200 miles south of Oregon border. We are at the northern point of the CA valley. Very hot summers, cool winters with little snow. We have migration any time after February, going north. In fall it starts around late August . We have birds all year. The ‘locals’ as I call them are slender & like their feeders kept about 1/3 full. They have nectar & I don’t have to fill as often.

  35. We live in Michigan’s Thumb, and will leave our hummingbird feeders up through September. There’s really little effort involved in keeping the feeders cleaned and filled, just in case late migrants come along.

  36. I live in Southern New Hampshire. After the 1st of Sept. I mix my nectar extra sweet for the little fellows so that they have a little extra energy for that trip south. The same as I do in the Spring for early arrivals. Then around Oct. 1st I really watch for that last migrater to pass through.

  37. I start marking my calendar around mid-September every day that I see a hummingbird. I simply jot “HB” on the date. Only after two weeks of no sightings do I bring in the feeders for cleaning and winter storage. Marking the calendar insures you don’t lose track of time. I may go four or five days without a sighting, then I’ll see one!

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