My pineapple sage plant is still in bloom. It’s a great backyard hummingbird plant due to the fact it blooms the entire fall season. Right up until the first freeze. As the picture below shows this type of plant with its tubular flowers is a hummingbird favorite. But even though on 11-3-2019, here in NE Georgia the plant is still in bloom the hummingbirds have left us for southern Mexico.
One of the advantages of owning the Wild Bird Center of Johns Creek is that I get constant up to the minute updates of backyard birds. This year, right on time, which is around the middle of October I started hearing from customers that their hummers had left the area. Every year right after the 2nd week of October I start listening closely to customers that still have the hummingbirds hitting their feeders. This year it was those customers in the mountains that had at least a week or two more with the birds than those of us in the suburbs.
Customers from the mountainous areas were still buying nectar and feeders all the way to the end of October. That rarely happens around here, my best guess is their location is probably right in the migrating hummingbird’s flyway.
I almost liken the hummingbird migration to a light switch going off. One day they are here the next they’re off. We are not really sure what triggers the migration for birds. If you were to jump to conclusions you might think the lack of food would drive them south. But that can’t be all of it… I can guarantee you could put 50 nectar feeders around your house and still not see a single hummingbird in Johns Creek, GA in November. So it can’t be just food, again as the 1st sentence said…”The pineapple sage is still in bloom” which is food. In fact so is my black & blue salvia, I was just looking at that plant this morning.
So what is it??? What causes or triggers the hummingbird, or any bird for that matter to migrate?
The short answer is… we don’t really know.
We can theorize why, in the hummingbirds case, they end up in Central America and Southern Mexico. It’s probably, food, shelter, and protection from predators. We can guess and study how they got there using stars, landmarks, prevailing winds, and the earths magnetic field. But when to move?
The fall migration is probably (my best guess) the result of average hours of daylight over a period of time. The shortening of the days also brings cooler temperatures and changes to weather patterns. All of these factors and probably many others unknown to us mere mammals cause the birds to migrate.
David Peterson is the owner of the Best Nest of Georgia, Inc. which includes in its corporate family a retail store called the Wild Bird Center of Johns Creek Georgia. The Wild Bird Center focuses on bringing nature to your backyard using bird seed, bird feeders, mealworms, and bird houses to attract wild birds to your yard. You can reach the Wild Bird Center at 770-418-1990 or by contacting David via email: firstname.lastname@example.org