When Do I Take Down My Hummingbird Feeder For The Winter

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A Wild Bird Scoop visitor asked, what time do I take down my feeder?

A picture of two hummingbirds with bubble boxes depicting a conversation between the two. One says


Patricia from Colliers, WV asked this question:

My neighbor tells me in early September, so that is when I do it, but sometimes my little Hummingbirds still come back, and I know they need this food for the flight to go where they go for the winter.

My little friends bring me peace, I have them coming back for the 3rd year, and I am sure its the same female and male and I spotted a little one with them.

So do they stay with the same mate year after year?

(I answered that question here.)

When to take down your hummingbird feeder?

I keep my feeder by my deck and I have a flower hanger close by. The female will sit for a few seconds and look at me and today the male did it.

They often play hide and seek. They come fast and buzz by me.

I love these little birds. My grandkids are amazed and they love these little wonders as much as me.

Quick Facts:
About Taking Hummingbird Feeders Down In the Autumn

1.   Leave your feeders up until 2 – 3 weeks have passed without seeing any birds feeding from them or until freezing weather sets in.

2.   Keep your feeders full and clean.

3.  Taking feeders down to force them to leave, will bring Hummers great hardship as they need to gain body fat for their migration travels.

I know just where they go in the pine tree and my neighbor’s tree is close. I spot them watching me, I believe.

So any info about hummingbirds is appreciated. I do not have any pictures.

When Do I Take Down My Hummingbird Feeder?

hummer feeding at nectar feeder photo taken by Jeff Sanders
When Should You Stop Feeding Hummingbirds
In The Fall?

The Answer to When Do I Take Down My Hummingbird Feeder?

You should not take down your feeders to tell the Hummingbirds it is time to leave.

Birds are guided by many factors that signal them that it is time to go.

Ornithologists who study bird migration are still not exactly sure what the factors are that trigger migration, but they are fairly certain it has something to do with temperature, daylight changes, food supply changes and their natural internal clock.

One of these influences or a combination of more than just one is still not completely understood.

But whatever the triggers are, we should not interfere by trying to make them leave.

Keeping your feeders up and full, with fresh clean nectar, until you have not seen them at the feeder for 2-3 weeks, is the best practice for helping them.

Wild birds will migrate when it is time and having feeders full of fresh food will not keep them from leaving.

And you are right that they need the food you are providing to stock up for their long journey.

Just before they go they will visit feeders more often in an effort to build their energy reserves.

I have witnessed a lone male, Ruby-throated Hummingbird at a feeder every fifteen minutes for a couple of days before he disappeared.

All birds that migrate will fatten up for the journey for several days before they leave.

In doing this, they store the required fuel they need to make the trip south.

RELATED: How to Clean a Hummingbird Feeder

A picture of a hummingbird resting on a branch. Picture by Jimmy Aroade
When Is the Right Time
To Take Down Hummingbird Feeders?

So glad to find this!

by: Wendy

I am so glad to know for sure not to take the hummingbird feeders down. I did once because someone said to do it and the poor things came back for days looking for their nectar feeders. So I finally
put them back up because I couldn’t stand to see the little darlings searching for their feeders anymore. They left a couple of weeks later and came back in the spring.

And my answer to Wendy:

Thank you Wendy for sharing your experience with us!

It is very important for the Hummingbirds to have lots of good fresh food right up until they leave.

And they are the best ones to decide when it’s time. They will not stay because your feeder is there.

They are compelled to go for other reasons. It could be the diminishing sunlight, magnetic pull from the poles changing as the earth tilts or cooler temperatures, even the scientists are not completely sure why.

Just enjoy them until they leave!

Factors Affecting Best Time To Take In Your Hummingbird Feeder

1.    Daylight hours changing.

2.    Temperature falling.

3.    Natural food supplies diminishing.

4.   A birds internal body clock.

A couple different pictures of hummingbirds and flowers. Text reads when is the best time to take in hummingbird feeders?
When Is The Best Time To Take In
Your Hummingbird Feeder?

Please enjoy this selection of feeders and when you are done looking, there is more about when do I take down my Hummingbird feeder, further down this page.

Best Nectar Feeders & Accessories

Nectar Feeders With 1-5 Gold Star Ratings

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Perky-Pet 8116-2 Red Square Antique Bottle Glass Hummingbird Feeder
  • Square, red antique style glass bottle
  • Elegant base accents with brushed copper finish
  • 4 flower feeding ports

Last update on 2024-04-20 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Hummingbird Feeder for Window Small Handheld Bird Flower Feeders with Perch Cleaning Brush (2 Pack)
  • Unique Design:Hand-held hummingbird feeder included wire and red bead with can attract more hummingbirds to your window. and hold...
  • Easy to Clean:The Small hummingbird feeder included two Cleaning Brush,which is easy to clean hummingbird nectar after using it.
  • Easy to Use:The bird feeder is light and handy,you can hold it with your hand or sitck it on window.The hummingbirds eat the...

Last update on 2024-04-20 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Perky-Pet Looking Glass Hummingbird Feeder
  • 32 fl oz nectar capacity
  • Copper base cover and 4 flower feeding stations
  • Easy to fill and clean

Last update on 2024-04-20 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

How Long Should You Leave Hummingbird Feeders Up in the Autumn?

It really does matter where you live. Only you can determine when the best time is for your area. As long as your feeder is well maintained it can stay up until the risk of freezing sets in.

I had an email from a man who lives on the west coast of Canada. He kept their Hummingbird feeder full all winter with a light bulb beside it under a pail because a Hummer did not leave. It was likely too old or
injured and could not make the flight.

Although, many Hummers have changed their migration habit and now stay all winter on the west coast of North America, in the northwestern United States, and in British Columbia, Canada.

Some Ideas On How To Keep Hummingbird Feeders

From Freezing here.

I am considerably farther north than you are and our Hummingbirds stay until mid-September.

I will keep my feeders up until there is a risk of freezing which will not be until mid-November.

I do this in case there are some stray birds who are traveling late from farther north.

Just relax and enjoy your little visitors until they decide it is time to leave!

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