When Do I Feed Hummingbirds?

That’s a good question. Hummingbirds are migratory birds. That means they travel to warm weather in order to find their food sources and nesting sites.

There are two types of migrations – northern and southern. Hummingbirds will start traveling from Central America to North America in January. It usually takes three months for them to reach the southern states of North America. It is advisable for southern states to set out hummingbird feeders the first of March. Hummingbirds do not migrate in one flock or all at the same time as other bird species may do. Instead, they make their flight in March, April and May. Then begin their southern migration as early as mid-July from Canada and the northern states when the weather starts to cool. It is advisable to keep the feeders out as long as the weather permits. Southern migration will take just as long to travel as it did for the northern. Many people have the misconception of putting hummingbird feeders away at the first sign of the fall season. As you may know, we still can have warm days after the first early frost. So keep those feeders out until the temperature stays consistently colder. Hummers need that extra boost to make the long trip over the ocean.

It is worth noting that not all hummingbird species migrate at the same time. Some species can tolerate the cooler weather better than others. The Ruby-throated Hummingbirds are the most sensitive to cooler temperatures and are the first species to begin migration.

A hummingbird’s diet consists of nectar and insects. Nectar gives them high energy needed for flying, while insects give them protein. An interesting note to make is that hummingbird parents feed only insects to their babies. Babies do not feed on nectar while in the nest.

As a final note, put hummingbird feeders out early and leave them out until danger of freezing. You may see a slow increase at your feeder in early spring and a decrease in the fall. However, a hummingbird will remember feeding stations from year to year. So enjoy those hummingbirds as long as you can and they will reward you year after year!