Iowa Purple Martin Forum

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PostPosted: Mon Oct 01, 2018 6:33 pm 
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Joined: Tue Apr 30, 2013 8:02 am
Posts: 127
Location: Nevada, Iowa
When should I take down my feeder in the fall?
All good things, as they say, must come to an end. Unless you live in California, that usually includes hummingbirds, at least until next spring. Depending on where in North America you live, the southward migration typically occurs between July and November. Here in St. Louis, the last birds are seen around October 15, unless an earlier hard frost drives them south ahead of schedule.

Hummingbirds migrate in response to hormonal changes, which are triggered by decreasing length of daylight; nothing you can do will make them stay too long, so it's not necessary to stop feeding them to force them to go south. On the contrary: they will need to fatten up to nearly double normal body weight to survive the journey, and thus appreciate your feeder more than ever up until literally the last minute before they depart.

I recommend continuing to maintain at least one feeder for a week or two after seeing your last hummer of the season. Remember, that unless you are spending hours watching for hummers; they may be visiting while you are inside watching TV. Just because you think they should be moving on doesn't mean they have left. Sometimes an individual bird can't migrate on schedule, due to illness or injury: these late migrants in particular will appreciate having a reliable source of food at a time when few natural flowers are still in bloom. There's no need to risk your feeder freezing solid, though, so you needn't get carried away with the concept.


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