This is a common question every year as the summer wraps up and pumpkins seem to appear everywhere overnight: When should you take your hummingbird feeder down for winter?
The hard thing about this question is that there is not a blanket answer for everyone. There are general patterns in hummingbird migration that we can observe, but these vary by region and by year. However, there are several general principles that you can apply, to know what time is right for you to take down your hummingbird feeder for winter!
1. A week or two from the last time you saw a hummer.
If you notice, in the Fall, that you haven’t seen a hummingbird in a while (even though you’ve kept your feeder cleaned and filled), note the date. If you still haven’t seen a hummer for a week or two after you first missed them (again, keeping the feeder full and ready for any migratory stragglers), you can safely take it down.
2. At the first frost.
Sometimes, it’s hard to remember to track when you last saw a hummer. The first frost in late Fall is a good, objective measure for when to make the change.
3. Never, for some special areas!
In some regions of the USA, hummingbirds can actually stay year-round, due to the mild winter weather! This is true particularly of southwestern border and coastal regions. These areas are pretty unique, however. For example, even though we live in North Central Texas, our winters still get cold enough that hummers leave late in the Fall and typically don’t return until mid-March. What a treat for those of you who have milder winters!
Since giving specific date ranges for specific regions is out of the scope of this blog, here are a few links to articles we’ve found helpful for researching this topic:
- “When to Stop Feeding Hummingbirds” by The Spruce
- “Where do Hummingbirds Migrate in Winter?” by Birds and Blooms
- “Help or Hindrance? The Best Time to Take in Your Hummingbird Feeders” by U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
- “Do Hummingbirds Migrate?” by American Bird Conservancy
Just remember, leaving feeders filled and ready until the markers mentioned above is important. This ensures that migrating birds are able to “tank up” as much as possible before their journey south. We hope this has been helpful, as you consider when should you take your hummingbird feeder down for winter!