I was back out at Granite Basin again last week on my day off. I had a great day of birding, adding two additional species to my 2014 State List for the second week in a row, bringing me to 270 species for the year.
The weather was downright unbeatable: sunny, in the low 70s and no wind. It was about as nice of a day as you could ask for in November. As I hiked Trail 261 I was surprised to hear the sound of a singing Anna’s hummingbird. I stopped in my tracks to see if I could find it – and I did.
It is one thing to see an Anna’s hummingbird in your yard or at your feeder this time of year, but finding one in the middle of a natural, forested habitat, far from any homes or residential areas, was, in my opinion, a really good find. Most people wouldn’t consider an Anna’s hummingbird a rare bird, but for this time of year, I consider it pretty unusual.
On Saturday a customer who lives in the Forest Trails subdivision off Iron Springs Road told me she still has two hummingbirds coming to her feeder. The very next day, I heard a male hummingbird singing in the top of an elm tree in our cul-de-sac. I grabbed my binoculars to confirm that what I was hearing, and what I was seeing, was in fact the same thing – and it was.
On Monday, another customer shared with me that he still has two hummingbirds coming to his place. All of these hummingbird sightings indicate that perhaps there are an unusually high number of Anna’s hummingbirds in the area.
It is not unusual this time of year to get scattered reports of a hummingbird here or there, but it does seem like a lot of our customers still have hummers. I suspect that in each case, the hummingbirds being observed are ones that never left. It is not likely that these hummingbirds migrated south earlier this fall, and have come back already.
It is a dilemma each year to know what to do. Do you leave out a hummingbird feeder, or do you take it down? And, if you are going to take it down, when should you do it? I don’t think there is one right answer. I personally take mine down usually around Nov. 1, but I know there are many folks who leave at least one hummingbird feeder up all winter.
If you choose to leave a hummingbird feeder up in winter, my advice is to be consistent every single day. When you make the commitment to keep a feeder out, you need to be serious about maintaining fresh nectar on a regular basis, and you need to make sure the sugar water solution is accessible to the birds in times of freezing temperatures and inclement weather.
A lot of folks who keep a feeder out all winter also keep a backup feeder in the house and they swap out the feeders throughout the day if the sugar water freezes. If you are in the habit of bringing your feeder in at night, you need to get up early and put it out at the earliest sign of light.
Having endured a long, cold night, hummingbirds are anxious to eat first thing in the morning. If the feeder is not where they expect to find it, they will expend a lot of precious energy flying around the spot where the feeder is normally hung.
Until next week, Happy Birding!