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Birding Myths: No Hummingbird Feeders after Labor Day

6 Sep

It’s Labor Day, folks.  The traditional end to summer.  The day we all pack up our white shoes and prepare for the dark days of winter.

Not all rules about Labor Day should be followed though.  While everyone knows that white shoes after Labor Day might call the fashion world to implode and bring back a return of the worst fashion heresies of all time.  Hoop skirts?  Go-go boots?  Need I go on? Sure, that’s one we can all agree on.  I’m putting my white shoes into storage and hitting the rest of my “get ready for winter” list.

One item that must be taken OFF the list is packing up the hummingbird feeders.  In most parts of the US, hummingbirds are beginning their migration south.  Many people believe that they must pack up their feeders or the hummingbirds will stay too long and won’t survive their migration.

Nope.  Myth.  Not true.

Hummingbirds head south when their little hummingbird instincts tell them to do so.  They will go whether there is food available or not.  They are tough little birds.  They can survive some below freezing nights.  But, they will go when they are ready to go. More important is that they are able to eat enough food to build up their reserves so that they can survive the migration flight.  Having a ready food source is essential. The best rule of thumb is to keep your feeder up for about 2 weeks after you see your last hummingbird.  That way, the latecomers can stop in for a drink on their way . . .

Furthermore, on the West Coast, where I live, we have hummingbirds year round.  Our local Anna’s Hummingbirds stay year round.  They will benefit from a ready source of food all year.  In California, keep your feeders up year round, please!  In fact, in the depths of winter, I’ll often bring the feeder in at night and put it out first thing in the morning . . . that way the hummingbird juice is warmer than the air temperature giving the hummers a warm start to their mornings.


Make sure your friends who feed the birds know to leave their feeders up.  The hummers will thank you!