Watching tiny, glittering hummingbirds dart up to nectar feeders to refuel is one of the greatest joys for bird enthusiasts. But timing is important when putting out these sugar-water dispensers. Get the schedule right in your area and you’ll be rewarded with busy feeders all season long.
Read on to learn exactly when you should put out hummingbird feeders based on your location.
If you’re short on time, here’s the quick answer: In most regions, put out hummingbird feeders in early spring when flowers start to bloom and hummingbird migration begins. In warmer climates, leave feeders up year-round.
Follow Natural Nectar Blooms and Migration
When deciding when to put out a hummingbird feeder, it is important to consider the natural nectar blooms and the migration patterns of these beautiful birds. Hummingbirds rely on nectar as their primary food source, and they are attracted to brightly colored flowers that produce sweet nectar.
Put out feeders when native plants first flower
A great way to determine when to put out a hummingbird feeder is to pay attention to when native plants in your area start to flower. Native plants often have a symbiotic relationship with hummingbirds, as the birds help to pollinate the flowers while feeding on their nectar.
When you notice the first flowers blooming, this is a good indication that it is time to put out your feeder. This will provide the hummingbirds with an additional food source while they wait for more flowers to bloom.
Coordinate with northward migration in spring
Another important factor to consider is the migration patterns of hummingbirds. These birds typically migrate northward in the spring to breed and find food sources. By coordinating the placement of your feeder with the arrival of hummingbirds in your area, you can ensure that they have a reliable food source as soon as they arrive.
You can find migration maps and data on websites like Hummingbird Central to help you track their progress and know when to put out your feeder.
Supplement but don’t replace natural food sources
While putting out a hummingbird feeder is a great way to attract these amazing birds to your yard, it is important to remember that it should be a supplement to their natural food sources, not a replacement.
Hummingbirds require a diverse diet that includes insects and spiders, in addition to nectar. By providing a feeder filled with a homemade nectar solution (4 parts water to 1 part sugar), you can help ensure that they have enough energy to thrive, especially during times when natural nectar sources may be scarce.
Remember to keep your feeder clean and refill it regularly to prevent the growth of harmful bacteria. By following these guidelines and paying attention to natural nectar blooms and migration patterns, you can create a welcoming environment for hummingbirds and enjoy their beauty in your own backyard.
Mid-March to Mid-May for Most Areas
Putting out a hummingbird feeder at the right time is crucial to attract these beautiful creatures to your backyard. In most areas, the ideal time to put out a hummingbird feeder is from mid-March to mid-May.
This is the period when hummingbirds start migrating back from their wintering grounds in the south and are in search of food and nesting sites.
Early March for southern coastal states
If you live in southern coastal states such as Florida, Texas, or California, you can start putting out a hummingbird feeder as early as early March. These regions have a milder climate, and hummingbirds may make their way back earlier than in other parts of the country.
By having a feeder ready, you can provide them with the much-needed energy after their long journey.
April for Pacific Northwest through Midwest
In the Pacific Northwest and Midwest regions, it is recommended to put out a hummingbird feeder in April. This is when the weather starts to warm up, and the flowers begin to bloom, providing a natural food source for hummingbirds.
By supplementing their diet with a feeder, you can attract them to your yard and enjoy their presence throughout the spring and summer months.
Early May for northern tier states
If you live in the northern tier states such as New York, Michigan, or Minnesota, it is best to wait until early May before putting out a hummingbird feeder. The colder climate in these regions means that hummingbirds arrive slightly later than in other parts of the country.
By waiting until May, you ensure that the weather is warm enough for these delicate creatures to thrive.
Remember, these timeframes are general guidelines, and the exact timing may vary depending on your specific location and climate. It’s always a good idea to keep an eye out for the first signs of hummingbird activity in your area, such as the sighting of a male hummingbird or the blooming of specific flowers that they are attracted to.
For more information on attracting hummingbirds and creating a hummingbird-friendly environment, you can visit Audubon or Hummingbird Central, two authoritative websites that provide valuable insights and tips for hummingbird enthusiasts.
2-3 Weeks Before Hummingbirds Arrive Locally
If you want to attract hummingbirds to your backyard, it’s important to time the placement of your hummingbird feeder just right. Putting out a feeder too early may result in wasted nectar, while putting it out too late may mean missing out on these delightful visitors altogether.
So, when exactly should you put out a hummingbird feeder? The general rule of thumb is to have it ready 2-3 weeks before the hummingbirds arrive locally.
Males scout locations first in spring
Hummingbirds are migratory birds, and their arrival time can vary depending on the region. However, in most areas, the males tend to arrive a week or two before the females. These tiny birds are known for their incredible navigational skills and will scout potential feeding locations before the females join them.
By putting out your feeder a couple of weeks before the expected arrival time, you give the males a chance to discover and establish your feeder as a reliable food source.
Females follow a week or two later
Once the males have established their territories and found suitable feeding spots, the females will follow. They are attracted to areas where there is an abundance of nectar-producing flowers and a reliable food source, such as a well-maintained hummingbird feeder.
By having your feeder out early, you increase the chances of attracting both the males and females, making your backyard a hummingbird hotspot.
Check local birding sites or clubs for sightings
If you’re unsure about the exact timing of hummingbird arrivals in your area, a great way to stay updated is by checking local birding sites or joining birding clubs. These resources often have dedicated bird enthusiasts who keep track of the first hummingbird sightings in your region.
By staying informed, you can ensure that your feeder is ready and waiting when these charming creatures make their appearance.
Remember, providing hummingbirds with a reliable food source is not only enjoyable for bird enthusiasts but also plays a crucial role in supporting their migration and survival. So, mark your calendar and get your hummingbird feeder ready 2-3 weeks before the expected arrival time to welcome these tiny, vibrant visitors into your backyard.
Leave Feeders Up Through Fall Migration
If you’re a fan of hummingbirds and have been enjoying their presence in your backyard, you may be wondering when it’s the right time to take down your hummingbird feeder. While it’s tempting to pack it away once summer ends, it’s actually beneficial to leave your feeders up through fall migration.
Keep freshly made nectar until regular frosts
Hummingbirds rely on nectar as their primary source of energy, especially during migration. By keeping your feeders up until regular frosts occur, you’re providing these tiny birds with a much-needed source of fuel before they embark on their long journey.
Regular frosts typically signal the end of the season for hummingbirds in many regions.
It’s important to note that as the temperatures start to drop, the nectar in your feeder may freeze. To prevent this, consider using a heated feeder or regularly replacing the nectar with freshly made warm nectar to ensure it remains accessible to the hummingbirds.
Late August through September for northern states
In northern states, hummingbirds begin their fall migration earlier than in southern regions. Late August through September is the prime time to keep your feeders up and filled with fresh nectar. These tiny birds need to build up their fat reserves to prepare for their long journey south.
During this time, you may notice an increase in hummingbird activity as they fuel up before heading south. It’s an exciting and rewarding experience to witness these remarkable creatures as they prepare for their migration.
October to November for southern regions
In southern regions, hummingbirds tend to stay longer before starting their journey south. October to November is the ideal time to keep your feeders up and provide them with a reliable food source. This will help them build up the necessary energy for their migration.
By leaving your feeders up during this time, you may also have the chance to attract different hummingbird species, as some species from further north may pass through your area during their migration.
Remember, migratory patterns can vary depending on the specific region and climate, so it’s always a good idea to consult local birding resources or websites like Audubon for more information on when hummingbirds typically migrate in your area.
So, if you’re wondering when to put out a hummingbird feeder, the answer is to leave them up through fall migration. By providing these magnificent birds with a reliable food source, you’re contributing to their successful journey and helping to ensure their survival.
Special Considerations for Warm Climates
Some hummingbirds remain year-round
In warm climates, it’s not uncommon for some species of hummingbirds to stay in the area year-round. Unlike their counterparts in colder regions who migrate south for the winter, these hummingbirds have adapted to the warmer temperatures and can find enough food and shelter to survive throughout the year.
Some common species that are known to remain in warm climates include the Anna’s Hummingbird and the Costa’s Hummingbird.
Clean and refresh nectar every 2-3 days
In warmer climates, the heat can cause the nectar in hummingbird feeders to spoil more quickly. It is essential to clean and refresh the nectar every 2-3 days to ensure that the hummingbirds are getting fresh and safe food.
The hot temperatures can accelerate the growth of bacteria and mold, which can be harmful to the birds. To clean the feeder, simply rinse it with hot water and use a small brush to scrub away any residue. Refill it with fresh nectar and hang it back up for the hummingbirds to enjoy.
Switch to sugar only in hotter months
During the hotter months in warm climates, it is recommended to switch to a sugar-only solution for the hummingbird feeder. The high temperatures can cause the nectar to ferment more quickly when mixed with other ingredients like honey or artificial sweeteners.
A simple mixture of four parts water to one part sugar will provide the necessary energy for the hummingbirds without any extra additives. Make sure to boil the water to remove any impurities before mixing it with the sugar.
For more information on attracting and caring for hummingbirds in warm climates, you can visit the Audubon website, which offers valuable tips and insights from experts in the field.
By understanding the routine of hummingbird migration and natural bloom seasons, you can time putting out your feeder to provide essential energy during active periods. With a well-stocked feeder in the right place at the right time, you’ll enjoy a flurry of feathered activity.