Ruby-Throated Hummingbirds leave their northern breeding grounds during the second half of August and the first week of September. The males migrate first, followed by the females and the juveniles. They return in the same order in spring, during the last two weeks of May. Data from bird banding (tracking birds by placing numbered aluminum bands around their legs) has shown that birds return to the very same place the next spring.
By mid August, increase the sugar water content in your feeders.
The usual mixture of 4 parts water to 1 part sugar is now 3 parts water to 1 part sugar, a mixture much closer to what nature intended.
The summer sugar levels in your feeders will have your hummingbirds feeding more often, but at this time of year, you want to help fatten them up. Hummingbirds must double their weight before their migration and higher solutions can only help.
Don’t worry about your feeders keeping the hummingbirds from heading out. The southern migration is dictated by the length of daylight hours and falling temperatures. Cool weather may dictate an early exit by a day or two and warmer days may bless you with an extended visit, but you can be sure they will leave.
Keep your feeders out for an extra few weeks after you’ve seen your last hummingbird. There is always the chance of a last passer by.
Ruby-Throated Hummingbirds can migrate more than 2,000 miles one way and some make the non stop trip of 500 miles across the Gulf of Mexico.
Their marvelous adaptations enable them to live an extraordinary life and the ability to return to the exact same yard and feeder the following spring.