When Should I Stop Feeding Hummingbirds?

I have heard that I need to take down my hummingbird feeder to make the hummingbirds migrate.  I live in Minnesota and my brother lives in Alabama.  Should I take my feeder down before he does?  Can you suggest a good date to remove the hummingbird feeder for both of us?

Hummingbirds at 12 ounce saucer hummingbird feeder

Hummingbirds will migrate even if you continue to offer nectar in your hummingbird feeder.

All birds, even hummingbirds, migrate when it is time to go.  What triggers the need to migrate in birds is still a mystery to us, but even the best kept bird feeding station will not stop the migration.  You may notice a decline in the number of hummingbirds at your feeder but still have a few stragglers.  Don’t worry about this.  The late birds may be females that had a late nest and need to acquire extra body fat before leaving.  Another possibility is that the last of the birds are young that need to improve their muscularity and beef up before migrating.  Another fact you need to know is that the nectar you make only provides the carbohydrates the birds need.  They rely on small insects for the protein in their diet. You are not their sole source of food nor can you be.  My guess is the lack of insects also encourages migration.  So, leave the hummingbird feeder up until you are sure there are no more hummingbirds visiting it.  Your feeder may make a difference between life and death for some of these hummers especially if a frost in Minnesota kills many of the flowers.



  1. Please let me know what happens to hummingbirds when you move away and can’t feed anymore. I feed about 20 or more birds but our house sold and I don’t think they will take care of them

    • Donna,

      What many people do not realize is that a majority of the hummingbirds food is small spiders and insects. Hummingbird feeders are only supplemental food for them. Nature has provided the nectar they need for energy within their natural habitats. They will do alright when you leave. If it would make you feel better, you can scale down your feeding gradually until you have to leave your home. This will allow the hummers to find alternative food sources. Also, in many areas hummers will frequent several well separated feeders within their territories during the course of a day, so they may also be getting food from other feeders or gardens. Thank you for feeding the birds and I hope you will continue at your new home. Tom

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