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When Do I Take Down My Hummingbird Feeder in the Fall?

September 15th, 2011

If you put up a hummingbird feeder in the summer you may wonder when you need to take it down. It has been rumored that if you leave it up the little birds will stick around delaying their migration, but this is not the case. There is no need to worry that you’re keeping them around. It’s actually a good idea to keep the feeder up well into fall for the opposite reason. Even though the hummingbirds that frequented your feeder all summer may have left already, migrating birds from farther north may use your feeder for a quick pit stop on their way south.

Here at Chiot’s Run we leave the hummingbird feeders up until mid to late October (I wait 2 weeks after seeing the last hummingbird). They get taken down and washed in a non-toxic soap every 3 days and then they’re filled with homemade organic nectar. Making your own hummingbird nectar is quick and easy.

Simply mix 1/4 cup organic sugar with 1 cup of filtered water in a cup or bottle. Mix until combined, fill feeders, store any extra in the fridge (although I make just enough to fill the feeders each time). Contrary to popular theories, you don’t need to boil the water or use hot water.  The nectar does not last longer if it is boiled since bacteria is introduced the first time a bird drinks.  It is also not necessary to add red food coloring either.  In fact the red coloring can be detrimental for the little birds.  I make sure I use organic sugar and filtered water because birds are more sensitive to toxins (read through your oven manual and they say to never clean your oven with a bird in the house and think about the canary in the coal mine).

To give the little hummingbirds a helping hand you can also make sure you have some late blooming flowering in the garden. Nicotiana, or flowering tobacco does very well at seeding down and blooming through frost here at Chiot’s Run. I also have Cardinal Climber vines and a few other nectar rich flowers for them.

Keep those feeders up and have some late blooming flowers in your garden for the little birds traveling the LONG way down for the winter!

Do you feed the hummingbirds in your garden? When do you take down your feeder?

Free Pollinator Plant Guide

July 30th, 2009

While reading through my current Organic Gardening magazine I came across a small article about pollinators. The Pollinator Partnership is offering a free guide: Selecting Plants for Pollinators.
If you’re interesting in downloading this free guide, just type in your zip code when you follow this link and they’ll give you the guide that’s specific for your region. I happen to be in the Eastern Broadleaf Forest Oceanic Province and NAPPC Including the states of Connecticut, New Jersey, Rhode Island and parts of: Delaware, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Tennessee.
Pollinators also include butterflies and hummingbirds, along with beetles, flies and bats. Who wouldn’t want to attract more of these to their gardens?
I downloaded the guide yesterday and have been looking through it. I’m always looking for new plants to introduce to my gardens that will be beneficial for pollinators and other insects.
I love that this buide includes a chart of flowers and their bloom time so you can stagger the blooms so that somethings always providing pollen and nectar for the beneficial birds and insects in your gardens.

Have you incorporated any new plants this year specifically for pollinators?

Crazy Little Birds

August 13th, 2008

We seem to have a few new male hummingbirds around chasing all the young ones away from our feeders. I think they may be ones that are migrating through, since they just appeared today. There are 2 of them as far as I can tell. One sits on top of the feed in the back and chasing away any other birds that come and the other one sits in the maple tree on the side of the house and chases away any birds that try to go to the side feeder. They’re so crazy!

They will probably be leaving soon, the males usually migrate mid-august and the females follow in a couple weeks. The young may stick around through October.

New Hummingbird Feeders

July 21st, 2008

My old hummingbird feeder started leaking nectar and after falling off the window several times the glass tube broke and is much shorter than is once was. I have been looking for a nice hummingbird feeder for while now, but it seems like they’re all pretty ugly (I’m not sure why they all need plastic yellow flowers on them?). I finally found a simple one at Best Nest. I bought 2 new iron hooks to hang them from. So far the hummingbirds prefer their old feeder better. I’m hoping they’ll start using the new ones soon!

Update – They do love the new feeders! I think they love that there are 2 feeders now. They often eat from the one on the side of the house and then fly to the one on the back of the house for seconds.


June 17th, 2008

We have a few hummingbirds that come back each year. Last year we put up a small feeder on the kitchen window, our cats love to sit in the windowsill waiting for the hummingbirds to come. I’m hoping to plant a few more flowers for them in coming years. They sure are hard to get a photo of, I managed to get this one yesterday, maybe I can get the ruby-throated one as well!

Reading & Watching

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This is a daily journal of my efforts to cultivate a more simple life, through local eating, gardening and so many other things. We used to live in a small suburban neighborhood Ohio but moved to 153 acres in Liberty, Maine in 2012.