Removing hummingbird feeder for winter

Asked October 11, 2015, 3:46 AM EDT

This is the first year we have had hummingbirds as regular visitors to our garden near the S. Yamhill River and near our house; so we put out several feeders. My neighbor removes her feeders mid Oct. to force migration; however, I have read some hummers will winter in the Willamette valley anyway and feeding them might help them through the cold, wet months. My question is, if my close-by neighbor removes her feeders should I also?

Yamhill County Oregon

1 Response

This is always a tough question, it would be best if we never feed them at all, but that said we do like to have them come around our outdoor living spaces. The first thing is we have more than one type of humming bird here in Oregon and some of them are migratory and others are native.
Getting through the winter is tough on all the animals and having a feeder would help them, the problem is they become dependant. Once the birds, or any other animal really, become dependant and you fail to feed them. The birds suffer more than they would have had you not feed them at all
The best way to help our native humming birds is to plant shrubs that provide a natural food supply.
Here is a snip-it from a Oregon State publication

In Oregon, the most commonly seen hummingbird species are the rufous hummingbird and Anna's hummingbird, said Dan Edge, wildlife biologist with the Oregon State University Extension Service.

Rufous hummingbirds, found in all but the southeast corner of the state, migrate south for the winter, returning north to most regions of the state in late February and March. Anna's are year-round residents in Oregon's Coast Range. There are also small summer populations of three other species of hummingbirds that barely make it into Oregon - the black-chinned, Allen's and calliope hummingbirds.

Given the right plants, hummingbirds will frequent your yard, zooming around, beating their wings at 70 to 80 times or more per second. Hummingbirds need to eat about half their body weight daily in nectar and insects. Plant nectar provides instant energy and insect prey provides protein for muscle growth. As these tiny birds feed on nectar plants they also pollinate the blossoms.

Hummingbirds love nectar-rich flowering plants with bright red, orange or red-orange tubular-shaped blossoms. By planting a succession of nectar flowers, shrubs and trees that will bloom from spring to fall, you can give hummingbirds a continual source of food through the seasons.

Spring and early summer blooming flowers good for hummingbirds include: bleeding heart, columbine, fuschia, lupine, petunias, phlox and sweet William. Later in the summer into fall, hummingbirds feed on bee balm, butterfly bush (Buddleia), dahlia, hollyhock, four-o-clock, zinnia, cardinal flower, beard tongue (penstemon), scarlet gilia and sage (salvia), to name a few.

Flowering shrubs hummingbirds feed on include azaleas, wild Indian plum, red elderberry, red flowering current and flowering quince. Hummingbirds also feed on the nectar of hawthorne, horse chestnut and flowering crabapple trees. Vines they prefer include twin berry, morning glory, clematis, trumpet creeper, honeysuckle and scarlet runner bean.