DO HUMMINGBIRDS SEEM TO BE LEAVING EARLY THIS YEAR?

        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.

17 thoughts on “DO HUMMINGBIRDS SEEM TO BE LEAVING EARLY THIS YEAR?

  1. My hummingbirds just in the past week dropped off to where I am only seeing 2-3 at a time and not as much sugar water consumption. I also had a male stay around a full day last week!
    Gwinnett county Lawrenceville

    • We live in middle TN. Our hummers numbered around 15-20 in August( after arrival in March) feeding heavily. That continued until around Sept. 15th. The Ruby males suddenly disappeared in the last week. We were down to 2-3 by the 25th. Now it’s the 27th and I will leave two feeders our for travelers. Sad to see them go. Last year they left by Oct 5th. The beat goes on. Safe travels hummers!!

    • Kim,

      That is fascinating. We here in Georgia are envious of you folks. In this neck of the woods the rufous is our most common winter hummer. Anna’s and Calliope are very rare.

      Terry

  2. I don’t know about leaving early … there have been 3 ruby throat females swarming around the feeder this afternoon. I suspect one is migrating and stopped in for a drink and the others are trying to drive her away. I walked out and stood almost under the feeder and they swarmed all around me, even hitting one another, getting right in my face. A very interesting situation to be in! We’ll see what tomorrow brings.

    • Vicky,

      Thanks for your report. I too have noticed that the birds seem tamer this late in the year. However, I have never have had them act like the ones you have described.

      Terry

  3. Terry, all of our adult males are gone. There are 4 left and still growing, getting ready to leave. We had a new male to stop in Friday, after the heavy rains cleared out. He has a different make-up to his feathers and habits, so I believe that he must be migrating and stopped in here for food, refreshment, and may give direction to the youngsters needing to leave. They are usually gone from us by the autumnal equinox each year. Thanks for the interesting observation.

    • Florence,

      I really appreciate your report. I can tell you closely watch the status and condition of your birds. I too have noticed in the fall they will often leave after a rainy front moves through.

      Terry

  4. Terry: Also seem to have far fewer hummingbirds than previous years, at least for the last couple of weeks. Were out of town from Aug 11-25 so missed the surge perhaps. Am in extreme NW Forsyth County at about 1200 ft elevation. Camm Swift

    • Thanks Camm,
      It really helps me better understand what is happening to our hummers when I get reports from folks like you.

      Terry

      • It would be interesting to me to know where all these reports (comments) are coming from and I guess you know the geographic location of everyone? For example despite the many reports of some hummingbirds all year and other hummer species occurring in winter, I haven’t seen any of this at my location noted earlier. Camm Swift

  5. Hi Terry! I think your hummers all came to my yard! We have more than I can remember right now. They are all over the Turk’s Turban bushes in front & back yards, as well as 2 feeders. Seeing a very few migrants–blackpoll, cape may, yellow throated vireo. Hope you are well.
    Janice

    • Janice,

      It is great to hear from you. I do agree, it sounds like my hummers relocated to your backyard. That is very interesting. It shows you can safely make a blanket statement about hummers in Georgia. What a great list warblers.

      Terry

  6. I live near St. Louis and we have had hummers hitting our feeders well into Oct some years. This year this week not seen a single one where as last week they were fighting over the feeders. Is this a indication that winter is coming early we’re going to be rougher than normal I’ve also found monarch caterpillars all over making cocoons.

    • Jackie,

      Thanks for the input. I am still holding at 2-3 birds/day. I find it interesting that you have had hummers into Oct. Most years we don’t have them around here. As for monarchs, I have not seen a monarch at my Middle Georgia home yet. We are holding out hope we will though. Typically we don’t see many around here until October.

      Terry

  7. Late report from South Carolina (Piedmont area, border of Greenville and Spartanburg counties): We had steady hummer numbers at our two feeders throughout September. I don’t know how many individual birds, but visitors all day, especially in the mornings and evenings, as many as four at a time fighting for position. It’s only in the last few days that the numbers have dwindled, with just a few sporadic visits. This may have to do with the weather, which has been cooler and wet.

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