Bird Stewards

When Should I Stop Feeding the Hummingbirds?

Hummingbirds Still Need Food

While it may seem like summer has come to an end, hummingbirds are still around, with some coming from up north and slowly making their way down south. Our experts are recommending keeping feeders out until early-mid October.

(Photo by Andrea Reiman)

Whether they’ve been summering here or are passing through, hummingbirds still need you to feed them.

The Audubon has concocted this hummingbird recipe using refined sugar only.

While the temptation is to feed hummingbirds “natural” sugars, alternatives such as honey, natural and raw sugars can kill hummingbirds. Honey promotes toxic fungal growth and natural sugars have levels of iron that are toxic to hummingbirds. Plain white table sugar is the ONLY recommended sugar you should use.


What you will need:

  • 1/4 cup refined sugar
    Plain white table sugar is sucrose, which, when mixed with water, very closely mimics the chemical composition of natural nectar.
  • 1 cup boiling water
  • Bowl
  • Spoon

Note: There's no need for red dye here. Red coloring is not necessary and the chemicals could prove to be harmful to the birds.


  1. Mix sugar and boiling water until sugar is dissolved.
  2. Cool and fill feeder.
  3. Hang up your feeder outside and wait for the hummingbirds to come.

Why We Need to Feed Hummingbirds Before Their Fall Migration

  • The smallest of birds, they can travel 3,000km or more in one migration season, usually crossing the Gulf of Mexico (845km) in one go.
  • The Ruby-throated Hummingbird beats its wings about 53 times a second.
  • Their heartbeat is About 250 times per minute while at rest, about 1,220 per minute while flying.

Because they have such long beaks, hummingbird window strikes are often deadly, that is why feeders must be placed very far from windows so that there is no reason for them to approach the house. If you cannot get a feeder 30-40+ feet away from the house then put the feeder right up next to your window so that the hummingbirds stop at the feeder instead of flying into the glass. If your garden shed or garage has any reflective glass, please cover it with decals or hang items right in front of the windows so that they do not see the reflective surface of the window. Please do this with house windows as well. Even hanging some old CDs or DVDs from a string in front of your reflective glass will deter birds from striking windows. There are many decals and window tapes that you can also use: Feather Friendly Solution and Zen Curtains.

Replace the hummingbird food in your feeder every week, more often in hot weather. Lastly, it’s very important to keep hummingbird feeders clean, so please review our Bird Steward article on bird feeder and bath hygiene: Bird bath hygiene.

Enjoy the birds, for they will enjoy your feeders!