When to Put Out Hummingbird Feeders
Spring is a wonderful time of year to begin with – made even better by the arrival of our tiniest feathered friends! You’re probably excited and wondering: when should I put out my hummingbird feeder?
You’ll likely see your first hummingbird of the season quite a while after the first hummingbirds have actually come through. Putting out feeders before you see your first hummingbird can help those just passing by grab a quick snack – and lead to an early sighting for you! Read on to learn all about when to put out hummingbird feeders.
When to Put Out Hummingbird Feeders
Put out hummingbird feeders two weeks before their estimated arrival date in your area. For most of the northeast, that’s late March or early April. Many northeast residents will see their first hummingbird of the season sometime between mid-April and early May, but putting feeders out well before then helps (literal) early birds get a snack and gives you a greater chance of seeing hummers.
Check out the interactive spring migration map to learn when the common times have been in the past for your area, and consult Hummingbird Central‘s map below for this year’s reported sightings. These two maps will give you an idea of when to expect them where you live, and thus give you a good idea of when to hang hummingbird feeders.
In addition to consulting migration maps, you can get an even clearer idea of when your first hummingbirds will arrive by looking at the world around you. Hummingbirds often appear when the trees first begin to bud and multiple spring flowers start blooming.
Try to stay ahead of their arrival each year. Migrating hummingbirds can remember where they found feeders and are likely to revisit ones they found last year. If the feeder is missing, they’ll move on and may not return.
More on Migration Patterns
Keep track of your earliest sightings each year. You’ll likely notice a fairly consistent time for the particular area you live in, and you can follow this as your guide every year. As mentioned before, try to begin setting out your feeder early in the season rather than late.
Research indicates that hummingbirds historically migrated based on available daylight hours (called “photoperiod”) in both spring and fall. It’s not known yet just how much hummingbirds adapt their migration patterns due to weather differences each year; however, one interesting study found some pattern changes based on the weather in ruby-throated hummingbirds. This suggests that there may be gradual adjustments to their migration patterns and arrival dates, particularly if the current global warming trend continues.
Early Spring Feeding Tips
Since you’re unlikely to have very many visitors the first few weeks after you hang your feeder, consider just filling it partway. This could be a quarter, a third, or halfway – whatever you’re comfortable with based on your feeder’s size.
Filling only partially saves time and money, since you’ll be throwing out less sugar water when you do your weekly cleanings. And yes, you should still clean your feeders and throw away the cloudy sugar water at least once a week, even if it’s still cold out!
There are many freezing periods in early spring, so bring the feeders inside when the forecast predicts temperatures below 32°. This will prevent the feeders from freezing and breaking. You can set them back out as soon as temperatures rise again.
Curious about what happens during other seasons? Find out when to stop feeding hummingbirds in fall and what hummingbirds eat in the winter.
Enjoy Your Hummingbirds!
You should now have a good plan for when to put out hummingbird feeders. Remember to keep them (partially) full and thoroughly cleaned, starting around two weeks before you expect to see the first hummingbirds of the season!
When do you put out hummingbird feeders? Let me know in the comments!
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