Seeing Very Low Numbers of Birds

Seeing Very Low Numbers of Birds

Joined: June 21st, 2006, 1:24 pm

September 8th, 2017, 6:18 pm #1

As I have mentioned many times before, we have kept careful written records of our hummingbirds for almost 19 years. We are seeing UNUSUALLY LOW numbers of hummingbirds for early September (the slowest early September we have ever seen, with just an isolated sighting during the day and some sightings at dusk). The weather here has been exceedingly cool and overcast during August and September (40's at night and 60's during the day.) Needless to say, with our garden tour coming up on Sunday, we are panicking and almost considering cancelling the tour.

What are other members in the Upper Midwest currently seeing in terms of numbers? Any information would be helpful so we can explain to people attending the tour on Sunday what might be going on.



Madison, WI
Zone 5a
Quote
Like
Share

Joined: August 21st, 2012, 2:43 pm

September 8th, 2017, 7:49 pm #2

I have always been puzzled by the number of hummers you folks in the Mid-west have in Sep. but the reports you folks submit always indicate higher numbers than we, in MA, have at the same time in Sep.
Your low numbers this year are probably only a local anomaly this year, nothing to draw any conclusions from.
Your location in Madison is about a degree in Lat. north of Sturbridge (about 60 mi.) so one would think your numbers would be somewhat similar to ours but that has never been the case (you folks always seem to have more passing through). This year we will probably leave 3-4 hummers for the neighbors to feed when we leave on the 11th. We usually leave none or one.
If I were having "garden tours" I would be having them a couple of weeks earlier, if the presence of hummers was an important aspect of the event, Sep. is not a particularly good month to reliably expect hummers to be present just about anywhere in the US. Most have passed through by this time on their fall migration south.
Hopefully you experience a late surge and the garden tour will be a resounding success!

Joe M.
Lakeland, FL
Quote
Like
Share

Joined: July 29th, 2013, 2:35 pm

September 8th, 2017, 8:32 pm #3

As I have mentioned many times before, we have kept careful written records of our hummingbirds for almost 19 years. We are seeing UNUSUALLY LOW numbers of hummingbirds for early September (the slowest early September we have ever seen, with just an isolated sighting during the day and some sightings at dusk). The weather here has been exceedingly cool and overcast during August and September (40's at night and 60's during the day.) Needless to say, with our garden tour coming up on Sunday, we are panicking and almost considering cancelling the tour.

What are other members in the Upper Midwest currently seeing in terms of numbers? Any information would be helpful so we can explain to people attending the tour on Sunday what might be going on.



Man that's a total bummer. I remember when I was a kid growing up in Austin, TX it was a crap-shoot what kind of migratory season we would get. Some years my yard was filled with dozens of hummingbirds, other years there were only slightly more birds than during the breeding season. Some years we'd get a few Rufous and Black-chinned hummingbirds and other years none at all. In fact, the years I saw Rufous hummingbirds were years in which the migratory season was generally poor. In all the years I put out feeders in Austin, I only remember 2 being exceptional in terms of overall numbers. Sorry that this is an off year, I hate those too.
Quote
Like
Share

Joined: July 18th, 2009, 3:58 am

September 9th, 2017, 2:09 am #4

As I have mentioned many times before, we have kept careful written records of our hummingbirds for almost 19 years. We are seeing UNUSUALLY LOW numbers of hummingbirds for early September (the slowest early September we have ever seen, with just an isolated sighting during the day and some sightings at dusk). The weather here has been exceedingly cool and overcast during August and September (40's at night and 60's during the day.) Needless to say, with our garden tour coming up on Sunday, we are panicking and almost considering cancelling the tour.

What are other members in the Upper Midwest currently seeing in terms of numbers? Any information would be helpful so we can explain to people attending the tour on Sunday what might be going on.



I saw an uptick in activity today. This evening, a couple feeders that have been going unused were occupied simultaneously a few times. Hopefully, this is just the beginning of a trend upward.
Dan
East-central Iowa
Zone 5a
Quote
Like
Share

Joined: June 21st, 2006, 1:24 pm

September 9th, 2017, 6:32 am #5

As I have mentioned many times before, we have kept careful written records of our hummingbirds for almost 19 years. We are seeing UNUSUALLY LOW numbers of hummingbirds for early September (the slowest early September we have ever seen, with just an isolated sighting during the day and some sightings at dusk). The weather here has been exceedingly cool and overcast during August and September (40's at night and 60's during the day.) Needless to say, with our garden tour coming up on Sunday, we are panicking and almost considering cancelling the tour.

What are other members in the Upper Midwest currently seeing in terms of numbers? Any information would be helpful so we can explain to people attending the tour on Sunday what might be going on.



Thank you Nathan and Dan---I appreciate your kind comments and updates.

Joe, I couldn't agree with you more---what gardener in their right mind offers a garden tour in the fall? Of course, for us in terms of just the plants, all of the tender salvias are at their peak bloom and these are plants that most people never see at nurseries or in gardens. Well, we don't set this date based on plants (so many have finished blooming and look awful, such as Monarda or are in great decline, such as Jewelweed), but on our historical (based on almost 20 years of data) peak date for numbers of hummingbirds. A few people who come to our garden tour come to see the plants, or us, but most are coming to see (and many photograph) hummingbirds.

I know that someone like Nancy could explain this in detail, but the Upper Midwest and the East (even areas on the same latitude) are not on the same timeline for hummingbirds. People living in the East generally see their first hummingbird in the spring earlier than someone in the Upper Midwest and then the situation is then reversed in the fall (your peak numbers are earlier than ours). And, keep in mind, it is called "the fall migration", not "the summer migration"---fall does not actually begin until September 22.

I would see no point in hosting a Hummingbird Garden Tour in late July or early August when we are only seeing occasional hummingbirds.

This year we are facing some very unique challenges---week after week of cooler than average temperatures combined with overcast skies (and no rain either) has not helped our garden at all---many salvias and other tropical have still not bloomed (even those that have always bloomed in past seasons)and other plants are either fading earlier than normal or not blooming as well as they should. The worst though is that our number of hummingbirds is extremely low and we have never seen this few hummingbirds on this date in 19 years!

I guess there's always next year. Many people say they would come to our Garden Tour hummers or not, which is very kind, and that's what makes this situation bearable.
Madison, WI
Zone 5a
Quote
Like
Share

Joined: August 21st, 2010, 5:04 pm

September 9th, 2017, 6:54 pm #6

As I have mentioned many times before, we have kept careful written records of our hummingbirds for almost 19 years. We are seeing UNUSUALLY LOW numbers of hummingbirds for early September (the slowest early September we have ever seen, with just an isolated sighting during the day and some sightings at dusk). The weather here has been exceedingly cool and overcast during August and September (40's at night and 60's during the day.) Needless to say, with our garden tour coming up on Sunday, we are panicking and almost considering cancelling the tour.

What are other members in the Upper Midwest currently seeing in terms of numbers? Any information would be helpful so we can explain to people attending the tour on Sunday what might be going on.



Plenty of activity here in Green Bay as of today. A couple of weeks ago it seemed to tail off for about three to four days and then picked back up.

Hope some veer west/south/west for your party on their way south. Also still good activity at my sister's house up near Iron Mountain, MI in the U.P. So there are more coming south at some time.
Pete
Green Bay, WI
Quote
Like
Share

Joined: May 29th, 2015, 2:19 am

September 9th, 2017, 9:29 pm #7

As I have mentioned many times before, we have kept careful written records of our hummingbirds for almost 19 years. We are seeing UNUSUALLY LOW numbers of hummingbirds for early September (the slowest early September we have ever seen, with just an isolated sighting during the day and some sightings at dusk). The weather here has been exceedingly cool and overcast during August and September (40's at night and 60's during the day.) Needless to say, with our garden tour coming up on Sunday, we are panicking and almost considering cancelling the tour.

What are other members in the Upper Midwest currently seeing in terms of numbers? Any information would be helpful so we can explain to people attending the tour on Sunday what might be going on.



Kathi and Michael,

I am sure your activity will pick up soon!! I am glad for the news others have posted as Green Bay is not so far away and nice to hear Pete and his sister are still seeing lots of activity because I sure never have large numbers. But, I can tell you we have at least a few in our yard yet (most we have ever seen together in our yard is 4 and that was in past years). But, this year, I have four feeders and a camera on two of them. I check the cameras every three days and about a week ago, one caught over 400 photos in the 3 days and one had 239 captures in the same 3 days. Now, I am sorry for it does not tell me if the birds are the same....you know just multiple uses by the same birds? Just today, I cleaned feeders and again check the cameras, 252 for the one camera and 337 for the other camera.....the feeders do not swing and they are clear of other objects that could set them off. I usually find at least 25% of the photos do not have hummingbirds feeding from the feeders but pictures are dated and time recorded too and have multiple visits each day. I hear chatter and see chasing between hummingbirds but that is all I can report to you. I am SURE they are on their way to your beautiful gardens!!

Marilyn
Quote
Like
Share

Joined: July 18th, 2009, 3:58 am

September 10th, 2017, 1:54 am #8

As I have mentioned many times before, we have kept careful written records of our hummingbirds for almost 19 years. We are seeing UNUSUALLY LOW numbers of hummingbirds for early September (the slowest early September we have ever seen, with just an isolated sighting during the day and some sightings at dusk). The weather here has been exceedingly cool and overcast during August and September (40's at night and 60's during the day.) Needless to say, with our garden tour coming up on Sunday, we are panicking and almost considering cancelling the tour.

What are other members in the Upper Midwest currently seeing in terms of numbers? Any information would be helpful so we can explain to people attending the tour on Sunday what might be going on.



This evening was equal to the busiest of the season... although still a couple levels below typical peak action.
Dan
East-central Iowa
Zone 5a
Quote
Like
Share

Joined: May 18th, 2013, 9:33 pm

September 10th, 2017, 5:06 am #9

As I have mentioned many times before, we have kept careful written records of our hummingbirds for almost 19 years. We are seeing UNUSUALLY LOW numbers of hummingbirds for early September (the slowest early September we have ever seen, with just an isolated sighting during the day and some sightings at dusk). The weather here has been exceedingly cool and overcast during August and September (40's at night and 60's during the day.) Needless to say, with our garden tour coming up on Sunday, we are panicking and almost considering cancelling the tour.

What are other members in the Upper Midwest currently seeing in terms of numbers? Any information would be helpful so we can explain to people attending the tour on Sunday what might be going on.



To the best of my knowledge this evening I had 3 birds and the reason I say this is that I had one hummer at all 3 feeders at the same time, which are on opposite sides of my house, all supposedly immatures.
Steve W.
Martinsville IN.
Zone 6
Quote
Like
Share

Joined: May 18th, 2013, 9:33 pm

September 12th, 2017, 11:31 pm #10

As I have mentioned many times before, we have kept careful written records of our hummingbirds for almost 19 years. We are seeing UNUSUALLY LOW numbers of hummingbirds for early September (the slowest early September we have ever seen, with just an isolated sighting during the day and some sightings at dusk). The weather here has been exceedingly cool and overcast during August and September (40's at night and 60's during the day.) Needless to say, with our garden tour coming up on Sunday, we are panicking and almost considering cancelling the tour.

What are other members in the Upper Midwest currently seeing in terms of numbers? Any information would be helpful so we can explain to people attending the tour on Sunday what might be going on.



The last 2-3 days not seeing many but what I am seeing is a hummer sitting at the feeder for minutes at a time, not necessarily eating just sitting there biding its time.
Steve W.
Martinsville IN.
Zone 6
Quote
Like
Share

Joined: May 19th, 2013, 3:18 am

September 13th, 2017, 9:41 am #11

As I have mentioned many times before, we have kept careful written records of our hummingbirds for almost 19 years. We are seeing UNUSUALLY LOW numbers of hummingbirds for early September (the slowest early September we have ever seen, with just an isolated sighting during the day and some sightings at dusk). The weather here has been exceedingly cool and overcast during August and September (40's at night and 60's during the day.) Needless to say, with our garden tour coming up on Sunday, we are panicking and almost considering cancelling the tour.

What are other members in the Upper Midwest currently seeing in terms of numbers? Any information would be helpful so we can explain to people attending the tour on Sunday what might be going on.



Numbers down here seem to be lower than usual for mid September. That said, we generally see migration in waves, so it is possible that our banding days are falling into the troughs rather than at the crests.
Nancy L Newfield
Casa Colibrí
Metairie, LA
Quote
Like
Share

Joined: July 29th, 2013, 2:35 pm

September 13th, 2017, 2:42 pm #12

As I have mentioned many times before, we have kept careful written records of our hummingbirds for almost 19 years. We are seeing UNUSUALLY LOW numbers of hummingbirds for early September (the slowest early September we have ever seen, with just an isolated sighting during the day and some sightings at dusk). The weather here has been exceedingly cool and overcast during August and September (40's at night and 60's during the day.) Needless to say, with our garden tour coming up on Sunday, we are panicking and almost considering cancelling the tour.

What are other members in the Upper Midwest currently seeing in terms of numbers? Any information would be helpful so we can explain to people attending the tour on Sunday what might be going on.



Nancy, if I was closer ya'll could come out here and band. Biggest migratory season I've ever personally witnessed. Looked like Rockport, TX in my backyard this morning. For some reason, all I can think is "next year I'll probably have no birds at all." That's how it is sometimes.

It was weird, in California I had wonderful breeding season numbers but absolutely zero migration whatsoever. My black-chins would all just slowly disappear without any real increase in numbers due to migrants passing through. Here it's the other way around, modest breeding season numbers and a HUGE migratory influence.
Quote
Like
Share

Joined: July 18th, 2009, 3:58 am

September 14th, 2017, 12:43 am #13

As I have mentioned many times before, we have kept careful written records of our hummingbirds for almost 19 years. We are seeing UNUSUALLY LOW numbers of hummingbirds for early September (the slowest early September we have ever seen, with just an isolated sighting during the day and some sightings at dusk). The weather here has been exceedingly cool and overcast during August and September (40's at night and 60's during the day.) Needless to say, with our garden tour coming up on Sunday, we are panicking and almost considering cancelling the tour.

What are other members in the Upper Midwest currently seeing in terms of numbers? Any information would be helpful so we can explain to people attending the tour on Sunday what might be going on.



I saw ten hummers in my yard this evening, which isn't too bad, although the action is clearly still a couple levels below what I typically see in mid September. The big deal is I did not see a single hummer use one of the backyard feeders all evening. That is unprecedented. Every year, feeder use maxes out from September 10-24. I should be seeing two or even three hummers on a couple of the feeders just before dark. Seeing zero feeder use is very strange.
Dan
East-central Iowa
Zone 5a
Quote
Like
Share

Joined: May 19th, 2013, 3:18 am

September 14th, 2017, 3:16 am #14

As I have mentioned many times before, we have kept careful written records of our hummingbirds for almost 19 years. We are seeing UNUSUALLY LOW numbers of hummingbirds for early September (the slowest early September we have ever seen, with just an isolated sighting during the day and some sightings at dusk). The weather here has been exceedingly cool and overcast during August and September (40's at night and 60's during the day.) Needless to say, with our garden tour coming up on Sunday, we are panicking and almost considering cancelling the tour.

What are other members in the Upper Midwest currently seeing in terms of numbers? Any information would be helpful so we can explain to people attending the tour on Sunday what might be going on.



Today was a really long and productive day. I left home at 0530 to demonstrate banding for a LSU wildlife management class. Normally the drive is about an hour and 15 minutes, but traffic was so heavy that it took almost 2 hours for me to reach the site. The site is one that another bander, Dave, has been working. The yard has very little in the way of enticing shrubbery, but the host hangs 50 or more feeders in September.

The yard was really hopping by the time I arrived and Dave was already hard at work. Since Dave already had traps out and had a number of birds waiting, I just laid out my tray of equipment and got started. In an hour and a half, I banded 15 Ruby-throateds. Most were pretty fat, but a couple carried no fat.

We finished by 0900, when the students had to return to their classes on campus. So, since the day was still pretty young, I wended my way home, stopping to visit at several of my winter sites. Because I had missed most of last winter banding, I wanted to let the hosts know that I am back in business and ready to work hard. Every yard had a lot of action.

My yard was very busy with about a dozen hummers when I arrived home at 1430. Because I have a lot in flower, most birds ignored the feeders. I saw no adult males, one female [age unknown], and the rest were scrappy immature males. I don't have to go anywhere tomorrow, so I will be up and outdoors early to enjoy the show.
Nancy L Newfield
Casa Colibrí
Metairie, LA
Quote
Like
Share

Joined: May 29th, 2015, 2:19 am

September 14th, 2017, 6:02 pm #15

As I have mentioned many times before, we have kept careful written records of our hummingbirds for almost 19 years. We are seeing UNUSUALLY LOW numbers of hummingbirds for early September (the slowest early September we have ever seen, with just an isolated sighting during the day and some sightings at dusk). The weather here has been exceedingly cool and overcast during August and September (40's at night and 60's during the day.) Needless to say, with our garden tour coming up on Sunday, we are panicking and almost considering cancelling the tour.

What are other members in the Upper Midwest currently seeing in terms of numbers? Any information would be helpful so we can explain to people attending the tour on Sunday what might be going on.



Nancy,

I am so glad to read your news and to learn you are "back in action"!! Although I know you have been doing some banding in the past it's good to know you seem to be feeling better than last season and able to do more this year. I am happy to learn your area is filled with hummingbirds and hope some may have come from my yard. What a thrill it would be to see a banded hummingbird in my garden! I still see a few in my yard and hear lots of chatter. Last few days have been warm for our area so I hope to see more before season end. Those I see appear to be young females but I really am not sure. Wishing you great success in capturing and banding large numbers of hummingbirds this year.

Take care and try not to do too much,

Marilyn
Quote
Like
Share