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When to take down Hummingbird feeders

Posted by Linda Pittman on

hummingbird feeder  I've read numerous articles about how late to leave a bird feeder up, particularly hummingbird feeders or Oriole feeders. Some people worry that leaving plenty of food for birds that migrate might make them stay too late, jeopardizing their survival up north. I guess if humans were birds, we would make such a stupid mistake. But rest assured, that is not the case.

Birds migrate because of instincts, not their stomachs. They travel when the length of day, or angle of the sun, or whatever, trips their trigger. It tells them to fatten up and fly away. They may wait out a major storm on their journey for a while. Like a hurricane or something over the Gulf of Mexico could have all the southbound birds bottled up on the Gulf Coast. But when it finally blows over, they will all continue their flights. They are not dummies.

When you feel that the birds have all gone, or the hummingbirds you've watched all summer are ignoring your birdfeeder, leave it up a while. You are right, your birds have gone. But the birds from further north are still on the move. Stragglers will certainly appreciate a hearty meal to help them on their way. Leave those bird feeders up. There are even plenty of stories of variants straggling thru with subfreezing temperatures around. People have brought hummingbird feeders in at night, so they won't freeze, but when they set them out in the morning, they still had a customer, for a few days. It is rare, yes, but with the climate doing weird things, and weather patterns varying widely, some birds do end up in strange places.

If you end up with an out of the way bird in your yard, food will certainly help it a lot. But these birds have evolved taking care of themselves. Bird feeders are gravy, not a necessity. We all love to pamper our birds. So give them the gravy.

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