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Could you please tell me when I should take down my hummingbird feeder.I live in the Pocono Mountains of Pennsylvania. It is getting a lot of traffic, but autumn comes early to the mountains. I don`t want them staying around longer than they should, and getting hurt by the impending cold weather. Thank you.

A There is no evidence that leaving your feeder out too late will delay hummingbird migration. Most hummingbird experts say that migration is triggered by the changing length of daylight hours and/or by the availability of insects. (There is a minority opinion: some people in Canada and the northern U.S. have argued that when feeders are left up beyond normial migration time it can delay hummers while food supplies to the south diminish.)

We would advise you take down your feeders when it becomes apparent that there are no more hummingbirds in the neighborhood. For you, that may be some time in September. For people farther south it would be later.

In recent years, many hummingbird lovers near the Gulf Coast have been leaving their sugar-water feeders out all winter long, and they have been rewarded with a remarkable variety of western hummers. Even though at least one expert thinks this is not a good idea--since there are, in some years, spells of bitter cold weather--the excitement and enthusiasm for winter hummingbirds in Louisiana and other Gulf Coast States is enormous.

Where you live it is unlikely, but not totally out of the question, to have a Rufous Hummingbird or some other western vagrant show up in the fall, then linger indefinitely. If any hummingbird stays beyond the usual time, keep feeding it.. It may sick, injured, lost, or have cataracts on its eyes. It may think it is in Mexico. The tiny bird's survival could depend on your generosity.

Good luck!

-- Larry & Terrie



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