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Cold Weather Tips for Hummingbird Feeders

It’s unusual for us to get the winter freezes and snow here in the Portland/Vancouver area, but when we do, the resident Anna’s Hummingbirds count on our feeders more than ever. I have three hummingbird feeders that I keep going all winter long. When we have freezing weather, they are more popular than ever. When the weather drops into the 20’s, keeping the nectar from freezing is a big challenge. Here are some ideas, with illustrations, that may make it easier!

... by Michele Dupraw

People have developed different techniques for the different models of feeders on the market.  Here are some of the ideas that might work for your feeder:

1.  Try using a feeder model that suction cups to the window. This will buy you a few degrees and works well until the temperature dips really low.

2.  Maintain several feeders and rotate them. As they freeze, move them indoors, then back outside when the nectar has thawed.

3.  Bring the feeders in at night, but be sure to get them back out at dawn, the hummingbirds will be hungry

4.  Bottle type feeders- Try wrapping the bottle with holiday lights or bubble wrap for insulation. (Best 1, Perky Pet, Nature’s Best)

5.  Saucer type feeders- There are a number of ways to use “Trouble Lights” or even Christmas lights to generate enough warmth to keep the nectar from freezing.  Here are a few:

a)  Erect a heat lamp under an eave or porch and direct it on the feeder. Place the feeder in a dish with holiday lights below it. (Humzinger models, Droll Yankee).  As always, use caution when you’re dealing with electricity!

b)  Here are a few sketches to help:


Don’t forget to keep the hummingbird nectar fresh. It’s easy to make your own nectar. Bring 2 cups of water to a boil, add ½ cup sugar to dissolve. Cool. You can store the nectar in the fridge for 2 weeks. Clean and refresh the nectar in the feeder every 4-5 days.

The extra maintenance may be daunting, but these feathered jewels are worth it!