Finding Nectar
September 6, 2016 by Rita Welch

Hummingbirds and monarchs feed on high-energy nectar to fuel migration. Why do they both migrate so early in the fall?

Although one is a bird and the other a butterfly, they are both heading south at the same time.
Image by Susan Mueller, Red Wing, Minnesota, August 25, 2016

Flower-fueled Migrations
Hummingbirds and monarchs must find blooming flowers along the entire migration pathway. They must travel while their food supply is readily available — before fall flowers go out of bloom or are damaged by a killing frost. This is why they are among the first to migrate in the fall.

Take a tour of your neighborhood. Where can hungry migrants find natural nectar sources now? Pay attention to how quickly will your habitat changes as the fall season progresses.

"This week I have seen Ruby-throated males, females and juveniles nectaring from Rose of Sharon, Hot Lips salvia, Cardinal flowers, Latana Landmark Rose Sunrise, Lonicera Major Wheeler honeysuckle and Cuphea Vermillionaire," reported Kate from Elkridge, Maryland on September 3rd.

Who's Seeing Red?
Bold red blossoms stand out in a lush green environment. Hummingbirds have a good sense of sight; they are able to see well in the red end of the color spectrum.

"A female has been hanging around for weeks. She prefers the firebush and firecracker blossoms," reported Mike from Palm Harbor, Florida on August 28th.

"A hummingbird nectaring on a Mandevilla."
Amy Evoniuk from Newburgh, Indiana on September 1, 2016


Featured Resources
Burning Food Fast
Nectar-fueled Migrations

Finding Natural Nectar
Photo Study
Fueling Migration
Report Your Sightings

Report at least once a week while hummingbirds are present during this fall migration season.


Hummingbird fall sightings
Map | List