It appears that hummingbirds are leaving my yard early this year.
Throughout most of August, my wife and I made lots of hummingbird food. During these hot days of August, we were preparing and feeding the birds 20-25 cups of nectar every day or two. This was because we were feeding more hummingbirds than during any previous August. Based on the maximum numbers of birds we were seeing at any given time, I calculated that we were feeding 100 or more hummers daily.
These numbers remained steady until September 4 when the nectar consumption dropped significantly. Suddenly we were feeding the birds 20-25 cups of nectar every three to four days. This was surprising because, in a normal year, we don’t see a significant decline in hummingbird numbers that early in the month.
On September 12, I was surprised to see an adult male ruby-throated hummingbird dining at our feeders. The bird also returned the next day. While seeing an adult male that late in the summer was big news, what was even bigger news was the male was one of only three hummingbirds using our feeders daily.
Since then, the male has moved on, however, we are still feeding only two or three hummingbirds. This is in spite of the fact that we are still providing the little migrants with plenty of sugar water and flowerbeds and containers are awash with the blooms of a number of nectar plants.
The seemingly early departure of the birds has reinforced my realization that, in spite of studying these magical birds for decades, there is so much I still do not know about them.
I sure would like to know whether you have noticed that rubythroats seemingly left your yard early this year also. It would help me understand if this is a local or widespread phenomenon.