Should We Take Our Feeders
Down in the Autumn?

Asked by Barbara,  Michigan, USA

should-bird-feeders-come-down-in-fallPhoto Courtesy of Jeff Sanders

Should we take our feeders down in the Autumn? We are afraid that if we leave them out then the birds won't fly south. Is this true? I would hate to be responsible for making some of them late and then they can't go. Please let me know what you think.

Hello Barbara,

Thank you for submitting your question!

Your question is often asked by people who feed birds in their backyard. Should we take our feeders down in the fall?

The answer is, no.

All your feeders whether they are seed or nectar feeders should be left up for your feathered friends.

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6 Reasons to Keep Your Feeders Up in the Fall:

To answer the question -

Should We Take Our Feeders Down in the Autumn?

  • 1. Birds Are Preparing By Stocking Up: All wild birds who are preparing to migrate will be stocking up on food to get ready for their long trip. It is often observed by people who feed wild birds that birds are at their fall feeders more often and for longer periods of time. They need to do this to stock up on food, which is their energy source, for their long flight. A food source such as a feeder, that is all of a sudden missing one day, could cause the birds a great deal of stress and hardship. 

The Instinct to Migrate is Very Strong in Wild Birds

  • 2. Strays: Autumn and spring can bring turbulent weather with the change of season. This can sometimes make it difficult for wild birds to keep on their migration path. Some birds may choose to pause their travels and wait out the storm. Others may be blown off their path and end up at your feeders and choose to stop and dine. They may even stay for a few days or longer until they have stocked up on energy supplied by your bird food.


  • 3. Migrating birds also stop at regular feeding stations along their migration path both in autumn and spring, if of course the source is dependable. You don’t want to miss out on this exciting event. This is our experience. We have had a male Indigo Bunting stop by our feeders every spring and fall for the last three years. He will stay for two or three days and then be off. It is very exciting to see this beautiful bird for his bi-annual visit.

  • 4. Winter Station: When you leave your feeders up all fall, it gives the birds who stay all winter an opportunity to find your feeders and know where a good source of food is when the freezing weather sets in.
  • 5. Build Trust: We leave our feeders out all year. This builds trust with the wild birds and we have a virtual bird highway in our back yard as a result. Hummingbird feeders are the only feeders we take down in the fall 2 to 3 weeks after none have been sited. Read more about what to do with nectar feeders in autumn.

Wild Birds Have A Strong Instinct To Migrate

A wild bird’s instinct to migrate is very strong. They will definitely leave when they feel the urge.

Usually, only the injured, sick, very young or old, stay behind.

Most wild birds only need to migrate because of lack of food in the winter and they need to find more food because they require more energy to stay warm through the cold night. 

Hoping you enjoy your feathered friends!


I hope this helps to answer your question "Should We Take Our Feeders Down in the Autumn?.

You can find more information by following the links below.

Bird Watching Guide For All Seasons


  • Spring Bird Feeding An exciting time when wild birds return to their northern breeding grounds after their long migration.


  • Summer Bird Feeding A very rewarding season to feed and house wild birds. There is such a variety of bird life and feathered family activity to enjoy.
  • Where Have My Backyard Birds Gone?   Any time of year the birds in our backyards sometimes seem to disappear. It may not be a usual time for migration, which makes us wonder what happened to them. Discover the reasons.


  • Fall Bird Feeding Some people think that bird feeding in the autumn is not a good idea. They mistakenly believe that their feeders will keep the birds from migrating. Find out the truth.


  • Winter Bird Feeding  Bird watching in the winter months provides many rewards for us. We can’t help ourselves from wanting to assist them by putting out a bird feeder.
  • Where are they in Winter?  A question often asked is answered: "I have been getting more birds each summer, but why do they still completely disappear each winter?"
  • Bird Watching Guide December  The first month of hard winter season is here. This guide provides direction through the busy holiday season to ensure our backyard buddies have the supplies they need to have a good winter.
  • Bird Watching Guide January  Bird feeding in the depths of January is wonderful to enjoy and a perfect time to plan for the coming year.

> > Should We Take Our Feeders Down in the Autumn?

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