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Common fall-time question
self portrait - circa 1996

 

Dear Friends:

Every year about this time people ask, “When should I take down my hummingbird feeder?” People are concerned that if they offer nectar late in the summer season hummingbirds not to begin their normal migration. Experts theorize it is the length of day not weather or temperature that stimulates hummingbirds’ desire to head to their wintering grounds. ruby throated hummingbirdFor our ruby-throated hummingbird wintering takes plant in south Texas, Mexico and Costa Rica. Most male ruby-throated hummingbirds actually begin their migration in August even when nectar-rich plants are still available.

I cannot remember where I read this but you do not need to be concerned with keeping glass hummingbird feeders out in freezing temperatures. It seems that because of the high sugar content (five parts water to one part sugar ratio being the most common nectar solution), the solution will not freeze until temperatures fall below 26 degrees. It is a good practice to keep your feeders clean and full even if you are not seeing a lot of hummingbird activity--last year people reported seeing hummingbirds until November! To quote the late Roger Tory Peterson, “Keeping your hummingbird feeder clean and full late into the season after natural nectar sources have diminished may provide the extra spurt of energy to help hummingbirds along their way.”
      Louise Dawson

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J.J. Cardinal's Wild Bird & Nature Store ®
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12830 S. Saginaw Street, Grand Blanc, Michigan   810-695-8733
originally posted 9/23/02 illustrations, text & fun © J.J. Cardinal's 2002
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