I thought the lone hummingbird I observed on October 5th would be my last observed hummer this year, which is about average for my yard. After that date, I went four days without seeing a hummer in the yard. The cold reality of a nearly seven month period without the entertainment the little rascals provide was beginning to set in.
Yesterday afternoon, October 10th, I was gazing idly out the dining room window and was surprised to briefly observe a juvenile female visiting the two feeders I still have out. I saw another hummer this evening (October 11th) perching on a dead branch above my flower beds. It might have been a different bird, as this one ignored the feeders and visited only flowers. There may well have been hummingbirds in my yard during that four day gap without observed hummers. This time of year, the flower beds in the yard are still full of blooms producing nectar, and without much if any competition, hummingbirds are much more discreet as they feed. Hummingbird squabbling and chasing is almost non-existent.
Every year at this time I’m struck by the contrast between the beginning of the hummingbird season in May and the end in October. In May, I have ever-increasing numbers of hummers from the very beginning of the month and I struggle to have sufficient numbers of plants in bloom to feed them all. Feeders are necessary to have enough nectar available in the yard to feed all the birds because so little is in bloom. At the end of the year, however, the hummingbird population dwindles until the last bird leaves, but unless there has been an early frost there is still a wealth of blooms available for the birds. Many of the Salvias, in particular, continue peaking until frost finally cuts them down, usually after the last hummingbirds have departed.