No more frozen hummingbird food
It's been a learning process for us when it comes to accommodating our hummingbirds who stay in our area year round. They're Anna's hummingbirds, and such a joy to watch. We even have one that squeaks very loud for some reason. I don't know for sure if it's the same one we've had for years, but it was quite a shock to hear that loud chirp the first time. If you click on the link in this article it tells you more about their lifespan, etc.
Male Anna's hummingbird
In past years, when it has gotten very cold at night we just brought the feeder in at night and kept it from freezing that way. Then, we'd just put it back out early in the morning and hope it would stay clear of ice. This year though, my husband devised a way to keep the air around the feeder warmer and above freezing. Here's what he did:
He added a socket extender with a plug receptacle to our front porch light. This also has a pull chain to turn off the porch light if necessary.
Then, the cord for the heat lamp was run from the porch light socket up and over the light and over to the feeder, which in our case is a short distance.
The distance from the bottom of the brooder light to the top of the feeder is maybe 5 inches. Far enough away to not "cook" the nectar, but close enough to ensure the food stays unfrozen. We still do bring the feeder in at night, but that's only because it doesn't make sense to run the light all night if the birds are in their nightly torpor. In winter, here in Washington state the birds begin arriving for breakfast around 7:30 AM. They don't fly until it's light enough for them to navigate.
The heat lamp we purchased cost $15.99; the clear lamp inside (125 watt bulb) cost $4.99; the extra light holder that went into the light socket was $$3.99. The feeder has been retrofitted with a heavy wire strung through the lid, but it doesn't heat up even though it's close to the heat lamp.
Obviously, we have the feeder hung in front of the window we we can see them come to eat and enjoy their antics. Please keep in mind that what works best, and is advised by hummingbird experts, is to not put red food coloring in the water/nectar. They don't need it and it could be harmful to them. We have two feeders in order to be able to soak one and put fresh food using the second one.
Also, please do clean the hummingbird feeders thoroughly to keep them from getting moldy inside. That mold can be very harmful to the hummer and actually cause physical damage to their tongues which eventually keeps them from eating and results in an early death.
The ratio we use for the nectar is ¼ cup granulated sugar to 1 cup of water. We warm the water in a measuring cup for 2 minutes in the microwave. We then add the sugar and stir until the sugar dissolves. Let it cool completely so as not to burn a little hummer tongue. Anna's hummingbirds are pugnacious little critters and it seems their days are spent fighting each other and eating. Mating season is a hoot too.
© 2017 Carol Wilkerson - All rights reserved.