The ruby-throated hummingbird weighs less than a nickel. Every spring, they migrate up the east coast and as far as into southern Canada, feeding on the nectar of flowers as they go.
In the fall, they’re usually gone from New England by Thanksgiving. These tiniest of birds take to the air and with their hearts beating as fast as 1,260 beats per minute, fly to the Gulf of Mexico, stopping for sustenance along the way.
They gather in Florida and Louisiana to continue increasing their body weights for the final push to Mexico and Central America. While some follow the land down into these areas, others fly straight across the Gulf. These fragile but mighty creatures can fly in stretches of 2,000 kilometers (over 1,200 miles) in one go.
What does this mean for us with hummingbird feeders? Keep them going through the fall, but it’s safe to bring them inside at Thanksgiving. Hummingbirds are not spurred to migrate by a decrease in food, but a decrease in daylight hours. So you can safely provide sugar water for these birds as they travel south.
If you’d like to keep track of hummingbird migration, check out this site! https://journeynorth.org/hummingbirds
To safely feed hummingbirds, use a 1 part sugar to 4 parts water ratio, without any need for food coloring. The red dyes are unnecessary. Be sure to clean the feeder every 3-4 days and replace the liquid within, or you risk making the birds ill.