You may know that Anna’s hummingbirds are year-round residents in many North American regions, mostly in Washington State. Since these hummingbirds don’t migrate to the south, they need enough nectar to survive in the coldest temperatures. In the dead of winter, finding a natural source of nectar is out of the question.
You may want to offer them artificial nectar, but your feeder tends to get frozen in dropping temperatures. So, how to keep hummingbird feeder from freezing? String some outdoor-rated incandescent lights around your feeder to keep the nectar warm. You can also keep a couple of feeders and rotate them regularly, bringing them indoors at night.
Apart from that, several ways are out there to protect your hummingbird feeder from freezing. In this article, we’re going to talk about those methods, along with some frequent queries people want to learn from us. So, let’s dig a little deeper.
How to Keep Your Hummingbird Feeder from Freezing
Here’s how you can keep your feeder nectar from freezing in harsh weather conditions.
- #String Outdoor-rated Incandescent Lights around Your Hummingbird Feeder
- #Place a 125-watt Clamp-on Infrared Light Adjacent to the feeder
- #Attach Hand Warmer Close to the Feeder Ports
- #Use Two Feeders and Rotate Them
- #Bring the Feeder Indoors at Night
- #Put the Feeder in the Protected Area
- #Use a Dome Baffle to Protect the Feeder from Snow
- #Insulate the Feeder with Any Cozy Fabric
- #Use Heat Tape with a Thermostat
- #Change the Ratio of Nectar into 3:1
- #Buy a Heated Hummingbird Feeder
- #Use Window Feeders Adjacent to a Heated Room
#01. String Outdoor-rated Incandescent Lights around Your Hummingbird Feeder
Outdoor-rated incandescent lights can generate enough warmth to the air to keep the nectar from freezing. However, energy-efficient LED lights are not helpful to warm your feeder because they cannot make enough heat.
Besides, hummingbirds prefer red, yellow, orange, and pink much more than other colors. So, make sure the Christmas lights are of these colors. On top of that, this method only works during a sudden cold snap but might not be effective in the bitter cold.
Anyway, you should keep in mind that the electric cord you’re going to use should be made for outdoor use. Again, if you’re using too many lights to heat your feeder, it might make the nectar too warm and wrap your plastic feeder.
You can read about ” How Do Birds Survive in the Winter? ” Details here
#02. Place a 125-watt Clamp-on Infrared Light Adjacent to the feeder
You need to buy a 125-watt infrared bulb with a clear envelope (not the red-glass type bulb). Then, screw it into a clamp-on fixture just one foot or a couple of feet away from the feeder. Check both the distance and wattage by testing the temperature of the nectar.
This means if you think your mixture becomes too cloudy due to much heat, you can use a different distance, lower wattage, or fewer lights. You can also connect the light to a timer to know what the right time is to increase temperature.
#03. Attach Hand Warmer Close to the Feeder Ports
Hand warmers are pouches that come with chemicals inside them. They can emit enough heat for around 6 to 7 hours. If you attach them nearby to the feeder ports, the nectar of your feeder will remain liquid for hummingbird feeding.
So, how to attach hand warmers close to the feeding ports? Use duct tape to place them near your feeder ports to keep the nectar from freezing. Don’t cover the ports with hand warmers. Hummingbirds won’t be eager to drink nectar from your feeder.
#04. Use Two Feeders and Rotate Them
If you keep two feeders and rotate them regularly, the nectar of the feeders won’t have enough time to get frozen. Typically, nectar starts freezing at approximately 29° Fahrenheit (-1.667° Celsius). Rotating the feeders will help keep the fluid liquid for hummingbirds all day.
To do this, you need to keep one feeder in your house overnight, filled with fresh nectar, and ready to go when you wake up in the morning. Bring the frozen or semi-frozen one back to your home and make it ready for the next night shift. Continue this process until late winter.
#05. Bring the Feeder Indoors at Night
Typically, hummingbirds don’t drink nectar on the very coldest nights. In harsh winter, they consume enough sugar water before sunset and go into torpor mode. In general, hummingbirds have nectar early in the next morning, however, before sunrise.
If you bring your feeder indoors to defrost it, it will be quite helpful to them. The next morning, hummingbirds can get enough liquid nectar available to drink.
#06. Put the Feeder in the Protected Area
You should hang your feeder in the place where it can get the most sun of the day. However, this is not enough for them. At the same time, you have to ensure that you keep your feeder in a protected area from cold winds and snow.
Choose a comfortable place, like under a deep eave or next to a windbreak, to keep your feeder nectar unfrozen for a long time. Consequently, the feeding ports of your feeder are not clogged with heavy snow or ice.
#07. Use a Dome Baffle to Protect the Feeder from Snow
To protect your feeder from snow, you can use a dome baffle above the feeder. Make sure you’re using a wide baffle with some additional space for small perches underneath it. As a result, hummingbirds can rest for minutes while having nectar.
Purchase a dark-colored baffle because it can keep the feeder much warmer. Instead, you can mount an umbrella above the feeder to protect it from ice and snow. If you’re really using an umbrella, don’t clean ice and snow off it. Let them melt naturally.
#08. Insulate the Feeder with Any Cozy Fabric
If you want to keep your feeder warm, you need to crochet, knit, or quilt a feeder cozy made of fabric and insulate the feeder with the cozy. You can also use a stitched wool sock to cover the feeder. Even a part of a discarded sweater or blanket can do the same job.
When you’re insulating the feeder with a cozy, make sure that you don’t block the feeding ports of your feeder. If the feeder is spacious enough, you can put a hand warmer inside the feeder to make extra warmth, especially on harsh winter nights.
#09. Use Heat Tape with a Thermostat
Wrapping your feeder with plumber’s heat tape can be one of the excellent methods to keep your feeder from freezing. Heat Tape is a flexible electric tape, which is similar to a flat extension cord. They can easily be taped to a wide variety of hummingbird feeders.
These electric tapes usually have very low wattage, and therefore, they don’t draw much energy. Most of them in today’s market come with a built-in thermostat that helps to keep the nectar at the right temperature. Always try to choose heat tape with a thermostat.
#10. Change the Ratio of Nectar into 3:1
You may know that the standard ratio of water and sugar is 4:1. A solution of water and sugar by following this ratio starts freezing at a temperature of 27° Fahrenheit (-2.778° Celsius). If you change the mixture to 3:1, it’s likely to remain liquid for more time.
The more sugar you add to the nectar, the less frozen the nectar will be. However, you shouldn’t increase the amount of sugar more than that. Hummingbirds cannot digest the nectar well. Anyway, 1 part sugar with 3 parts of water is the right recipe for hummingbirds in winter.
#11. Buy a Heated Hummingbird Feeder
Many Bird shops sell heated hummingbirds feeders. They’re actually birdbath heaters located below the feeder, which can generate enough heat. Not only will they be helpful to you, but they will make life much easier for your backyard friends.
We recommend a ‘Hummer Hearth‘ that you can find on Amazon. Simply hang it below your feeder and keep your feeder from freezing in the dead of winter.
#12. Use Window Feeders Adjacent to a Heated Room
If you’re using a window hummingbird feeder attached to a warm house, chances are the nectar is likely to freeze more slowly. This method works well on any windows, but single-paned windows can provide the best results.
Not only does it keep the nectar from freezing, but it also brings hummingbirds close to you for excellent views. We’ve used many window hummingbird feeders, but the Juegoal Window Hummingbird Feeder from Amazon has been the best for us due to its strong suction cups.
Will Changing the Ratio of Water and Sugar Help to Keep Hummingbird Feeders from Freezing?
Changing the ratio of hummingbird nectar is really useful for keeping your feeder from freezing. Typically, the ideal ratio of water and sugar in nectar is 4:1. You can make it stronger to a 3:1 ratio during winter months, especially in the dead of winter.
The stronger mixture can slightly lower the freezing level and provide overwintering hummingbirds with extra fuel to generate heat and energy in their body at this critical period. All in all, a stronger syrup solution can keep the nectar from freezing all over winter.
What Safety Precautions Should You Take to Keep Hummingbird Feeders From Freezing?
When you’re following a method to keep your feeder from freezing, you must keep safety precautions in mind. Here we’re going to show you some useful safety measures you should consider before getting down to the business.
- Heating tape, incandescent or infra-red lights, or other electrical devices can cause fire accidents. So, make sure the electrical products and extension cords are made and used for outdoor use.
- Don’t place your feeder near a clamp-on fixture, or don’t put heating lights inside a cozy. They could ignite a fire or melt the flimsy plastic feeders. So, avoid using plastic feeders rather than glass feeders.
- Don’t make the nectar stronger than the 3:1 ratio. This is because the stronger syrup is harmful to hummingbirds’ health and their digestive system. Nectar with a higher portion of sugar may damage the kidneys and liver of hummingbirds.
Some Useful Tips for Feeding Hummingbirds in Winter
Regardless of keeping hummingbird nectar from freezing, it’s necessary to learn what to consider when feeding hummingbirds in winter. Here we’re going to talk about some essential feeding tips that help you feed hummingbirds during the winter months.
- Make sure the nectar of your hummingbird feeders always remains liquid so that hummingbirds can drink nectar from your feeders throughout the coldest season.
- Keep your feeders clean to prevent the growth of fungus and mold inside them. These things can create obstructions in the feeding ports of your feeders. Most importantly, they can be pretty harmful to hummingbirds’ health.
- In the winter season, natural food sources for hummingbirds are not available like summer months. That’s why overwintering hummingbirds, such as Anna’s and Costa’s, depend on your feeder nectar. So, you should refill your feeder frequently to ensure an adequate supply of nectar to them.
- Don’t cut trees and shrubs near feeding areas before winter. Many hummingbirds use these trees and shrubs as shelters to perch and rest between cold winds.
- Anna’s hummingbirds are territorial, and therefore, they’re not willing to share their favorite feeders with other hummingbirds. So, when winter comes, make sure you’re hanging multiple feeders in your backyard or around your house to ensure nectar to all your tiny friends.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
1. Why do hummingbirds need nectar in winter?
Answer: Unlike other birds, hummingbirds have high metabolisms. They want to keep themselves warm, especially when they go into torpor at winter night. They preserve energy to protect themselves from a sudden, deadly cold snap.
2. What temperature is too cold for hummingbirds?
Answer: About 27 degrees Fahrenheit (-2.778 degrees Celsius) is the too cold temperature for hummingbirds. In this time, nectar also starts getting frozen.
3. Does hummingbird sugar water freeze?
Answer: Hummingbird sugar water freezes if the temperature is around 27 degrees Fahrenheit (-2.778 degrees Celsius). If you want to keep it liquid for more time, you have to change the nectar ratio of 4:1 to 3:1.
4. Should you leave hummingbird feeders out in winter?
Answer: In some areas of North America, Anna’s and Costa’s hummingbirds stay there, which means they don’t migrate to warmer regions. There might be some young, old, or injured hummingbirds. To feed these overwintering hummingbirds, you should leave your feeders out in winter.
After all, these are a few ideas that you can apply to your feeder in winter to keep it from freezing. In our opinion, the best way to prevent your feeder from freezing depends on your common sense and judgment. Hopefully, your flying, tiny friends will appreciate you.
However, the methods mentioned above will help you keep your feeder unfrozen even in harsh winter weather. If you have any queries regarding our post, or you have a unique idea that people don’t know, you can share it with the world through us below in the comment section.