CLEVELAND - Hummingbirds truly are a marvel of nature. These little birds, about 4 inches tall, are Mother Nature's helicopter. They beat their wings between 50 and 70 times per second. To the human eye, it looks like a blur. Because they beat their wings so quickly, these little creatures are the only bird that can fly backwards. They can also hover and move side to side.
Ohio and areas east of the Mississippi River have one species of hummingbird. The Ruby-throated hummingbird can be found almost everywhere in the state -- especially where there is a sweet, sugary food source. They feed on the natural sugars found in the nectar of many flowers. Because they beat their wings so quickly, they need an almost constant food supply. Because they love sugar, they come fearlessly to man-made backyard feeders full of sugar water, often times competing amongst themselves for the prime perch.
There is some dispute about when to take down the hummingbird feeders in late summer or fall. The common thought is you should take your feeders down around Sept. 1 to encourage the birds to migrate south for thee winter. But is this really necessary?
In the fall, there is an instinctual clock that tells the hummingbirds when to head south. People still disagree over the precise mechanism within the bird that causes this. Most sources say that that food supply is NOT a factor and there is no reason to take down hummingbird feeders to stimulate migration.
Actually, the mature male Ruby-throated Hummingbirds begin to migrate south for the winter in early August. It's the females and the newly hatched youngsters that hang around for a few extra weeks. Even though your resident hummingbirds may disappear by early September, there are still migrants from farther north that will travel through your yard through October. These travelers will appreciate your available food source.
That's why many experts recommend you leave your Hummingbird feeders out and filled through late October. By then, all of these summer visitors should be safely south in warmer climates. Just in time for the arrival of winter.