Question: I have heard that I need to take down my hummingbird feeder to make the hummingbirds migrate. I live in Minnesota and my brother lives in Alabama. Should I take my feeder down before he does? Can you suggest a good date to remove the hummingbird feeder for both of us?
Answer: All birds, even hummingbirds, migrate when it is time to go. What triggers the need to migrate in birds is still a mystery to us, but even the best-kept bird feeding station will not stop the migration. You may notice a decline in the number of hummingbirds at your feeder but still have a few stragglers. Don't worry about this. The late birds may be females that had a late nest and need to acquire extra body fat before leaving. Another possibility is that the last of the birds are young that need to improve their muscularity and beef up before migrating. Another fact you need to know is that the nectar you make only provides the carbohydrates the birds need. They rely on small insects for the protein in their diet. You are not their sole source of food nor can you be. My guess is the lack of insects also encourages migration. So, leave the hummingbird feeder up until you are sure there are no more hummingbirds visiting it. Your feeder may make a difference between life and death for some of these hummers especially if a frost in Minnesota kills many of the flowers.