Hummingbird migration occurs in both the spring and fall each year. Many people believe that some of the best hummingbird watching can occur during fall migration because the birds seem to pass through in more concentrated numbers. This doesn’t mean that the spring migration will be dull, just that you may see fewer hummingbirds. That will depend largely on what area of the country in which you live.
Contrary to what many people believe, keeping your feeders up and full will not keep the birds from migrating. Hummingbirds need lots of protein in their diets too and that doesn’t come from sugar feeders, but is gained when the birds eat insects! Shortened days, not lack of food, will tell the hummingbirds when to begin their journey. Hummingbird feeders should be left up at least three weeks after seeing your last bird. This will help migrating birds that pass through your area.
It is important to leave your feeders up and full. Migrating birds need all the quick and easy nourishment they can find to sustain the incredible energy demands of migration. It is vital that hummingbirds fatten up for their extended trips, particularly those crossing the Gulf of Mexico.
By the time fall migration comes, many hummingbirds are relying on worn-out feathers. They will begin to molt anytime from September to November, while out of view of most U.S. and Canada hummingbird watchers. Each feather will take several weeks to regain its size and shape.
Different hummingbird species migrate at different times and to different locations. By leaving your feeders up until you are absolutely sure the hummingbirds have left your area of the country, you will be providing these birds with a vital food source that will help sustain them so they can make their migration journey.