The nesting season can delay hummingbirds' arrival to your feeders.


Where are my hummingbirds?

29 Jul , 2010  

I’ve heard comments from a lot of hummingbird lovers out there, asking “Where are my hummingbirds?”  Loyalists, who are used to seeing swarms of hummingbirds at their feeders, feel like they are coming up empty this season.  So I talked to a few expert resources, too see what their opinion was on the lack of hummingbirds.

Their answers led me to believe there is nothing to worry about!

Population changes

The Cornell Lab of Ornithology in Ithaca, NY, is a terrific reference on all things birding, and they had this to say about the hummingbirds, “As you know, bird populations can fluctuate considerably from year to year.  Only if this trend were to persist on a much wider scale for multiple years would it likely indicate a larger problem for the species.  It is also true that what is happening in one location isn’t necessarily indicative for the species overall.”

This is a great sign!

Weather patterns

They further say, “When birds migrate, where they stop is highly dependent on weather patterns.  Because they’re in such a hurry to get to their nesting area, if they don’t need to stop, they won’t.  And that means that sometimes they’re not in a particular area.”

With that in mind, consider the what the weather pattern has been in the past few weeks. Were their large storms to the south? What about temperatures — has it been too cold?

Nesting time

We also took this question to Scott Weidensaul, who is an expert of bird migration.  He gave us the following explanation, “Most of the emails I get in June and early July about ‘where are my hummingbirds?’ stem from the females being tied up with incubation and chick-rearing, the usual early summer lull that always makes people panic. They remember the hordes of hummers they had last year (not realizing it was in late summer, after the chicks had fledged and the migration was underway) and compare that with the normal, low-intensity activity at their feeders in early summer and assume the worst.”

Food availability

Another factor to consider is the quality of natural food in your area. Is it a time of abundance of flowers and insects? If so, your hummingbirds may be gorging themselves on those tasty treats before they fall back on what you provide.

So in the end, we’ve concluded that all hope is not lost.  Keep those hummingbird feeders full of the good stuff and your much anticipated visitors will show up.

Feed them… and they will come!

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The WBJ Blog Team By

The Wild Bird Journal Blog Team's primary goal is to provide you with all the information you need to feed and assist the birds that visit your backyard. If you have a question, don't hesitate to leave a message for us in the comment section. We're always happy to help you and your feathered friends!

25 Responses

  1. Joyce says:

    I filled two of my hummingbird feeders and no luck at all, I’m about to give up. Please help.
    Thank you.

  2. Ruby Ruby says:

    Joyce, Don’t give up. As our blog entry stated, the moms and babies might not be ready to feed just yet. Do you have any hummingbird-friendly plants in your garden? They love trumpeting, nectar producing plants (honeysuckle, zinnia, hibiscus, butterfly bush). If you have anything like this, you might want to move your feeders to this area until you start seeing more activity.

  3. Sharon says:

    I think they all went to Colorado this year! When I was there are vacation, I saw hundreds, if not thousands on the feeders in the little ghost town of St. Elmo!

  4. Charlie says:

    I’m looking for the hummingbird feeders with the wide mouth at the bottom for filling. The ads fail to point out this feature, but I know that they are available. Anybody know where?

  5. Ashley says:

    I have 3 feeders up and have about 3 or 4 birds. I think I have them too close together, b/c they are spending most of thier time “fighting” each other????

  6. Cirina says:

    I also had fewer birds this year and those I did have left earlier the they usually do.

  7. The WBJ Blog Team admin says:

    Thanks for the comments! Check out this article on hummingbird count patterns… very interesting.

  8. Kathleen says:

    We had 8-12 hummers this summer, which is twice as much as other summers. We live in eastern NC. Most have them have left but we still have 3-4 stragglers.

  9. larry says:

    I have 2 feeders in my yard and there are so many birds, they are going through 4 feeder full a day. Must be 30 humming birds out there. Yesterday I held the feeder and they sat on my fingers to drink the nectar. Is this some kind of rare event?

  10. Tressa says:

    Do any humming Birds come to northwest Oklahoma?

  11. Nadine Huard says:

    I have had 2 hummingbird feeders kept all summer. I have 2 hummingbirds and as far as I can tell they are the buffed belly birds. They are such a treat to watch because they chase and ply with each other all day. They will sit for hours in one of our trees in front of our porch and sometimes the bees will chase them away to get to the feeders. They have been my greatest joy this summer. My camera is not the best to get pictures with they barely can be seen because of so much movement. I dream of having a really nice camera someday.

  12. Kelly Schartz says:

    I’m so thinkful for This blog I was so worryed about my hummingbirds not coming I do have two that are at my feeder but last year I had 30 or more I lost count at 30. My hummingbirds are my joy.

  13. Michelle Roberts says:

    I love watching the hummingbirds too but I only caught sighings of one so far and that’s it. The squirrels have been near and above the feeders so I bought a baffle in hopes it will work and keep the squirrels away. I still have time…it’s the beginning of July.

  14. Ann Kelley says:

    This is my first time on the blog; just wanted to join in the conversation to say that here in East Texas the hummers were late this year, but now they are everywhere. I have 5 feeders out and some are being guarded by one bird but one is up for grabs and I have to refill it every day.

  15. Irene Brightwell says:

    Hummingbirds have been my loves for many yrs. At one time I had 12 feeders & way over 100 birds. They allowed us to stand or sit among them for hours. I never add red food color; it is not healthy for them. I religiously clean & refill to avoid other problems. I lost my lg home with big deck & protective trees & many flowers. Still I live within 10 miles of My House. Here’s the real reason for my blog. First the male scout arrived. The second day arrived two females. Then there were about twenty. We had two bad storms and cold fronts about the time the first new babies were learning. I put out fresh feedwers with warmed nectar to help them and they seemed to really appreciate it–enough to line up all around the feeders and wait in my small oak for their turn. One morning (May 15, ’13) there were only 4-5 remaining. I’m very concerned the bad weather killed the new babies and chased the remaining adults somewhere else–but farther north weather was worse. I keep the water clean and fresh daily & I am despondent. Please tell me they are safe somewhere. Sincerely. Irene

  16. Nuxeo says:

    I suspect your hummingbirds are where my fireflies are. This is as late in June that I’ve gone without seeing any. I think (and hope) it’s just an artifact of the cold, wet, spring and we’ll be seeing them all shortly. hummingbird

  17. judy walters says:

    I have not seen the first hummingbird this year. I don’t understand why. I have my feeder out as I always do. I would only have maybe 3 to 4 birds but I enjoyed watching them. I live in Hattiesburg, Ms and I have asked several of my friends that have feeders out if they had had any this year and they have told me they haven’t seen any either. I love the little birds I wish they would come back. we sit on my back porch and watch them dart in and out. I appreciate any comments.

  18. KATHY says:


  19. cheri says:

    My neighbor and I are so perplexed about lack of hummingbirds. I have checked myself on fresh sugar water and cleaning feeders thoroughly to only seeing one every now and then. Last year watching them fight over feeders and buzzing us was delightful. Want the sugar bombers back…..please come back!

  20. Mrs Dixon says:

    We live in Fort Smith, Arkansas and have seen very few hummers this year, normally they are going thru a full feeder every day, starting to worry/wonder where they are and what’s happened to them. Thank you.

  21. The WBJ Blog Team admin says:

    They may have already started migrating south. But to be safe, keep your feeders clean and filled until freezing temperatures begin!

  22. Karrie says:

    For the last 8 years we have had our typical amount of hummingbirds. This year we had to add a large glass feeder to my existing 4 medium and 2 large feeders due to the massive number of birds we have. For the first time ever (eight years), I’ve had to literally fill each feeder 3 times a day. I live in Vienna, IL; 25 miles west of Paducah, KY; halfway between St. Louis, MO and Nashville, TN. I’m receiving new birds daily to eat who are migrating south. So many of you should be seeing our little friends arriving hungry soon. Keep the food fresh!

  23. Samantha says:

    I had several hummingbirds and 3 feeders I had to refill almost daily until last week then suddenly they disappeared. I’m in Oklahoma. Last year they were still feeding with ice on the ground. What happened??

  24. Lesley says:

    The first year I put them out,had two sets of Ruby Hummingbirds, and they hatched out their babies, the second and third year have only seen maybe one set, and it is like they have disappeared, and they hardly come around anymore. They are so fun to watch!

  25. Eric says:

    I live in southern Illinois, near st.louis mo. When do I stop feeding them so they can head south?? Eric

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