August and September is the busiest time for hummingbirds at feeders. By now our summer population of hummingbirds has concluded the nesting phase which explains why in the past couple of weeks you have seen a surge in interest at your feeders. It will only get busier in the next four to five weeks.
Already, hummingbirds that have summered north of here are beginning their long journey back to central and South America to soon bring them through Tennessee. So, not only are our hummingbirds that nested here coming to the feeders but all the migrating hummers will be sweeping through and joining the feeding frenzy. This is the time when hummingbirds will be feeding heavily packing on as much fat as possible to sustain them during there long journey.
Food availability is thought to be the prime determinant of migratory routes. Hummingbirds will travel where food is most dependable. Many who study hummingbirds believe knowledge of food-rich migratory routes may actually be built into the genetic codes of these amazing little birds. This explains why people in rural areas tend to see a lot more hummingbirds than those in more populated urban areas. Hummers will feed heavily on late summer blooming plants like jewelweed, bee balm, and cardinal flower. Cardinal flower and a purple variety of Salvia seem to be the preferred flowers at my house. These native plants not only provide nectar but attract insects that are critical to a hummers diet.
Since tiny insects are a major part of a hummers diet you may be interested in trying something I’ve had success with. In the vicinity of your hummingbird feeders hang a mesh bag, or perforated container with a piece of fruit inside. As the fruit over-ripens the fruit flies will converge. Hummingbirds will find this “meat” feeder very interesting. You will, too, as you see hummers hover and snatch insects.
If you have put away your hummingbird feeders because you thought you missed them this summer now is the time to get them back out and get some fresh nectar made. The very best and busiest is yet to come. In just one week I have seen consumption at my feeders go from 16 ounces per day to 32 oz. Based on past years by mid-September I will likely see as much as a gallon of nectar consumed per day at my eight feeders.
Below is a video from a couple years back in September. We're compiling some new footage from this year so check back for a new video on down the line.