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Monday, November 21, 2011

HUMMINGBIRDS AT HOME THROUGH A NORTHWEST WINTER



Dear Readers,

I am republishing this blog post because after two years, I'm still getting comments on this useful and timely information. 

Special note: A reader left a comment hoping an expert would "chime in" on whether or not it is wise to leave hummingbird feeders up during the winter. I would welcome comments from an expert, because I am not one, but I do have the words of an expert from the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, answering this question. Here's the link.

My friend Chris sat up in her bed and pointed out the window. “Look quick,” she said. “There he is again.”

I turned to see a hummingbird at her feeder. No big deal, except for the fact that he appeared on a cold, snowy day in the middle of winter in Tacoma, Washington. Chris just came home from the hospital after hip replacement surgery. Her many visitors help alleviate the boredom and frustration of being stuck in bed, but none of her usual guests seem to perk her up as much as this little fellow. It pleased me to see her look so excited.

Before the surgery, a hummingbird surprised Chris near a hardy fuchsia bush where a few tough blooms still remained, so she hung the up the feeder again, after she had taken it down for the winter. Many people believe feeding hummingbirds in the late fall and winter creates an unnatural situation that discourages them from migrating to warmer climates and could cost them their lives. I’m no expert on this subject, but since I’d seen them in my yard too I decided to do a little investigating. I learned a lot.

First of all, here in the Pacific Northwest it is common for hummingbirds to spend the winter, especially Anna’s hummingbirds. They seem quite tolerant of cold temperatures. Some scientists believe the practice by homeowners of feeding them nectar during these months has actually allowed this very successful species to expand their territory because of this adaptation. Experts see no harm in keeping the feeders up. When very low temperatures mean the nectar in the feeder could freeze, some people hang heat lamps close by or have several rotating feeders so they can replace a frozen one with a warmer one from indoors, as needed.

The use of commercial food is discouraged because it contains dyes and sometimes preservatives that could be harmful. Homemade sugar water solution works fine and the normal ratio of one part sugar to four parts of water is recommended by most experts, or only slightly stronger. They need the water it contains too, not just the sugar. I also learned that hummingbirds don’t live on flower nectar alone and eat a lot of insects even in the winter. Avoiding pesticides remains as important as ever.

But what about shelter? Once the leaves have fallen from deciduous tress where they’d normally nest, hummingbirds often find shelter in evergreens. Here in the northwest we have plenty of those. Maybe you have these little winter visitors right in your own backyard without even knowing it. Putting out some nectar now might make it much easier for them to get through this cold season. And remember that any effort spent will come back to you in the form of hours of enjoyment watching them. It also helps to keep us in touch with nature during months when we stay indoors much more.

If you happen to be confined to the house, or even to your bed, remember how the world of nature still holds many delights if you just think about them and keep your eyes open. The thought of crocus bulbs waiting in cold soil under a blanket of snow can remind us that even during the bleakest days of winter we can be assured that spring and better times will come again. So does the thought of hummingbirds hiding in my trees. Just as my friend Chris is helping her hummingbird to survive, he is helping to cheer her every day.


Note: The photo used in this blog post was taken by Janet Allen and shared with me through her generosity and the help of Anne Marie Johnson and Pat Leonard of Cornell University's Project Feederwatch.


Here are some great links if you want more information on this subject:

Project Feederwatch (co-sponsored by Cornell University and Audubon)
National Audubon Society
Birds and Blooms Magazine
Suite 101
Garden Web


You might also be interested in a book called Peterson's Field Guide to Hummingbirds of North America, by Sheri Williamson

67 comments:

  1. Wow, it is really amazing what they can live through. Thats great that some of them chose to stay through winter and experience that. I really love watching hummingbirds at the feeder. They are so graceful and peaceful.
    Thanks for the comment on my page. Sharing links would be just fine with me.

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  2. Thank you Candace! I've been struggling with whether to keep feeding my hummers now that fall/winter in approaching. You've just answered my question! :) Catherine (the schooner Adventuress)

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  3. Thank You for this information.
    We have 2 female Anna hummingbirds.
    I was so worried this morning because of our extremely cold morning. Sure enough the nectar was frozen. I took it in and cleaned it well and put in some new "warmed" nectar. One of the hummers was waiting there where the feeder was!!! Poor little thing!!
    I am going to have to keep a closer watch and have more ready in case of more freezing.
    Kim
    Tacoma WA

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  4. I've been hanging the feeder next to the outside light on my deck. It keeps the nectar warm all night and they are there even before the sun starts to rise. I did this last year for those two weeks of snow and had such fun watching them just hang out at the feeder next to the light.

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  5. I live in Portland Oregon and last year we had a very cold winter, we kept two feeders going at all times for three or four hummingbirds. One morning we woke up to find two hummingbirds laying atop the snow cover, one was dead;however, you could still feel the vibration from the second hummingbird. We immediately gathered an old shoe box and placed twigs, grass and a clean cloth inside. We scooped him up and covered the top with a lid to kept him in a warm dark area. I then called the University of San Diego were they have a hummingbird hot-line. They walked me through necessary steps on how to help the hummingbird regain his strength. We kept him over night and in the morning as went to uncover the lid he flew out buzzing around my room. I opened a window and placed an extra feeder between the window sill and eventually he flew out and rejoined his other friends.

    I too just wanted to share my story with everyone. Hummingbirds are amazing little creatures- and to watch them brings much enjoyment to everyone.

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  6. We've never had our hummers stick around after say late July. But this year we have 2 that are still here. One obviously has something wrong with his wing because his flight is slow and sounds horrible. I call him Kawasaki Guy because he sounds like an obnoxious motorbike. Not all of his pals abandoned him because a female is sticking around too. So I will keep my feeder out as long as they are here.

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  7. We have been enjoying the humming birds for about a year now and recently went on vacation. Our brother in law kept the feeders with sugar water in them but we only saw them a couple times since we have been back. In this last week we have'nt seen any and yesterday put out new juice. Any thoughts on if they leave and come back,sure miss the activity.

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  8. Last fall was our first time to have Anna's stay with us through the winter. I bought 2 humzinger feeders because their base perfectly matches the top of a cottage cheese carton. I then cut a hole in its side and inserted a 7 watt night light on a lightweight extension cord. Some people use duct tape but I used paperclips to snugly hang the carton from the feeder.
    It got very cold during the winter but the sugar solution only had a few crystals of ice at the edges on one occasion. The Anna's were regular visitors and survived the winter in apparently good condition.

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  9. Dear Readers,

    I want to thank everyone who has commented and shared their great stories and ideas. Here in the Pacific Northwest fall is once again in the air, and before you know it, three years will have passed since I published this blog post about hummingbirds. And yet people keep discovering it and writing.

    Let's keep this going! None of us knows yet what kind of winter we'll have, but I'd love to hear how people are maintaining their feeders and what they observe.

    Thank you for reading Good Life Northwest!

    Best wishes,
    Candace

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  10. I was so excited to find this blog. I couldn't believe that late in the summer/early fall I had a hummingbird or two still here. I asked down at my local Wild Birds Unlimited and was informed that they were Anna Hummingbirds. I have been keeping syrup out there as well and have one faithful guy. Sometimes I don't see him but I know he is around as the syrup goes down, albeit slowly. Like everyone else here I just love to watch them.

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  11. Hi Hannahbanana,

    I'm excited that you're excited to discover my blog AND my most popular post ever. Please come back and visit again.

    We have a good, steady crowd at our feeders right now, in November, and hope to keep them here.

    Thanks for reading and commenting on Good Life Northwest.

    Candace

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  12. Dear candace,
    THank you for your info on wintering over hummingbirds. My friend in Bellevue, WA has had success for a few years now, but I live in Carnation, which can be colder, and your info was quite timely. I'll have to devise some sort of light bulb situation but for the time being, I'll rotate the feeders. Good luck to you, and thanks again.
    Pam B.

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  13. Thank you so much foe this post! It helped very much!

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  14. We are new to the coast and have one feeder out now. We have at least two pairs of hummingbirds that are regular visitors. We seem to have a pair of Anna's and another pair that has irridescent red and green coloring. I am so glad to see this post - since I would not want to feed them if I was harming them. Thank you for the timely information.

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  15. Dear Unknown,

    I'm so glad you found this post helpful. Welcome to the West Coast, and my blog. I hope you will keep visiting Good Life Northwest. I appreciate all my readers so much.

    Best Wishes,
    Candace

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  16. I have been "wintering" Hummies for 6+ years - I live in Vancouver WA. They definately stay all winter and it is super important to keep feeders out, fresh and unfrozen all year round. In winter, I have 2 feeders that are "heated". One is under a covered patio with "boot dryers" duct taped to the bottom of the feeder. The other is under an eve in the front with plumber's electric tape wrapped around and taped under the base. These 2 "contraptions" keep the syrup fluid even at low temps. Presently I have at least 6 individuals who are staying this winter. I do use a Premium food in winter that is sold in FredMeyer stores. It is by Mills Bros. - comes in a box that has 3 packets. The ingredients are simple: sugar and the "red" part is a crushed beetle called Cochineal that is actually used in many human grade products like lipsticks, and also food coloring. It is not a chemical, and actually provides a trace of protein in the hummy food as we know they eat bugs, spiders etc as their main food source. Thanks to all out there who are responsible caretakers of these little jewels!

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  17. Dear Colleen,
    Thank you for offering such excellent suggestions! I'm sure many people, and hummingbirds, will benefit. I'm so glad you discovered this post and shared your knowledge so that we can all do a better job of keeping those feeders going.

    As I write this, on Jan. 13, 2012, the weather forecast calls for cold and snow, so your comment is very timely.

    Thank you for reading Good Life Northest and please come visit again soon.

    Best Wishes,
    Candace

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  18. I Love this blog. I currently have one little guy and occasionally he chases a visitor away. He is fealess and has gotten as close as a foot from me, drinking his nectar while I hold the feeder. This is the third year of them wintering over in our home. I wonder if it might be the same hummingbird from previous winters.

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  19. Dear Anonymous,
    Thank you for the nice compliment! I'm so glad to hear that you enjoy my blog and I thank you for sharing your own interesting observations about hummingbirds. It sounds like you have quite a bold little character visiting your yard.

    Today it is snowing like crazy in Tacoma and I'm haven't seen any customer at my feeder. I need to impliment some of the ideas suggested by readers, to keep the nectar from freezing. I think I'll go bring it in to thaw right now!

    Thanks for writing,
    Candace

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  20. I Live in Kent, WA and discovered the fun of placing hummingbird feeders out after seeing a number of visits to my yard during the summer. It has resulted in considerable research on line ultimately finding this blog this morning.

    As you here in the Puget Sound -Western Washington area know, we have had some snowy icy weather the past few days. This morning we have a sizable ice storm in place that has really caused severe conditions.

    I bring in my feeders at night when there is a possibility of freezing. I put new nectar in the feeders this morning and warmed it up a bit. I decided to put them out a bit earlier this morning due to the conditions, not being sure if the hummingbirds would be active at that time this morning. I usually wait until near daylight.

    I was obviously concerned with the conditions with regard to the little guys spending the night in these conditions. We have at least four hummingbirds that we know of that visit our feeders, although one male is very aggressively protecting what he must consider his territory. The others almost sneak in and out trying not to be noticed.

    Anyway, this morning I placed the one feeder out which hangs under the deck cover and seems to be the most popular of the two. The second feeder took a bit longer due to the treacherous footing conditions involved just trying to walk over to the tree to re-hang it. By the time I worked my way back to the deck and into the house the little guy was already at the feeder on the deck. It was barley light out. I noticed that he was struggling to perch in his favorite tree due to it being covered in nearly one inch of ice.

    I donned my winter clothing and ventured out with a yard rake and proceeded to knock the ice of the branches and as I turned around to see the results guess who showed up?

    As I type this, he seems to be adapting just fine under these extreme conditions. Hope So!

    Great Stuff.

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  21. Hello Reader from Kent!

    I'm so glad you discovered my blog and I thank you for writing. I think we all love hearing about other people's experiences with feeding hummingbirds. We have kept our feeders up all year with no problems but at times like this it's a challenge. Here in Tacoma it's still just under 30 degrees at 2 p.m. on Thursday Jan. 19, 2012, with freezing rain. We just refilled our feeder and those little guys were back on it in about two seconds.

    Before I took it down, I snapped some close-up pnotos of our hummers at the ice coated feeder, with the snowy trees in the background and I'll be posting them in my blog tomorrow. I have yet to impliment some of the good ideas one reader shared, for using heat tape and other methods to keep them thawed. I'm just hoping thing will warm up! Aren't you?

    We've had a huge pine tree in our yard lose three thick branches (as in about 6 inches thick!) At least we have our power and I'm grateful for that.

    Thanks for writing. Stay safe and warm and please visit Good Life Northwest again.

    Best Wishes,
    Candace

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  22. I live on an island in B.C.s Gulf islands and I have had at least 2 species of hummers coming every day to my feeder since the first days of november I now know that they also like to feed on pure suet,not the kind w/seeds as one was observed bill firmly planted in a suet ball happily feeding away while being harrassed by all the normal winter resident birds.also my syrup is much stronger than 4/1 I use 2/1 and they love it dosen't freeze as quickly and I bring it in every night.

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  23. We have five Anna's that stayed for the winter. For the last 4 years we had just one male. He is cute and still here. He hogs the feeder so we put two more up out front so he can't see them.We were concerned when the snow and ice hit but like the rest of you we constantly make sure the feeders are thawed and have put a light up before. We put them under the deck covers. They are so fascinating. We love watching them and so does the grandkids.

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    1. We are in Portland Oregon and have and about a dozen hummingbirds feeding regularing throughout the winter. The last three weeks we have only had one show up. I cleaned the feeders and put new fresh nectar out - still nothing. In talking to friends through out this area they have said the same thing. Most all of the hummingbirds and many of the other small birds have gone away. Does anyone know why??

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  24. Wish a expert would chime in... Someone told me that I was doing the humminbirds a dis-servce by keeping a feeder out during the winter because it encourages them to stick around when they would normally fly south for the winter? True? I have a few coming to my feeders her in Portland and its Jan 29th.

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  25. It's nice to read about other people as facinated as I am with these little birds.:) I also rotate feeders when it's possible they might freeze. I'm usually out in the yard in my bathrobe just before the sun comes up to put out a warm feeder - the hummer shows up right after I walk away. My friends tease me about the effort I put into taking care of the little guys. The hummers make my day! :)

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  26. From Pamela the NW Bird Feeder Lady:

    Hi there y'all!! I love feeding my birds throughout the Winter months too. I have 2 hummingbird feeders that I alternate of freezing days.
    I put one in a spruce tree & one by my back door hanging. I have been feeding them for 3 winters now. I love them. My other birds also love their 4 feeders. I saw about 12 quail in my yard a few days ago. Be sure to not buy bird food with filler in it. Not good for birds. Check with your local Feed store. Never use store bought hummingbird food. Not good for them & they don't like it much either. I think the hummingbirds live in my arboles (about 10 trees) or spruce. I do know that I saw rats last summer because of all my bird food. But the neighbors cat scared them away I hope. Haven't seen them for awhile. My father used to have hummingbirds living in his house. I think he had 2, and then spring came & they flew out. They haven't returned since. Very cute though. My dad loved it. BE SURE TO CLEAN YOUR HUMMINGBIRD FEEDERS WITH VINEGAR WATER & RINSE WELL. CLEAN EVERY WEEK OR 2 WEEKS AT THE MOST. The mold grows & it will kill the hummingbirds, so please clean your feeders often. Don't add too much sugar. 1/4 cup sugar to 1 cup water. Boil. Cool down before putting into your feeder. Don't want the plastic to melt into the food. Not good for birds. Love those hummingbirds. ENJOY. Pamela

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  27. this is the first time I had left the humming bird feeder hanging outside by my kitchen window, Hoping to see the humming bird even in winter time.....I did .....I was very excited to tell my husband about it and he himself help me to change the water especially when it is frozen and empty...Lately I have seen the Anna's humming bird which is very beautiful, and Ruby throat humming bird... I really get excited each time I see different kinds of humming birds in my yard...Tess Yelm, WA.

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  28. Alice in BellinghamMay 20, 2012 at 10:21 PM

    This was my first year to attempt to feed my hummers through the winter. There were at least 2 Anna's who spent the winter in my Bellingham neighborhood. They especially fed at the feeder under the eave near the front door, which was out of the wind and snow. The plumbers' heat tape worked well when I was at work all day and could not swap out warm & cold feeders. What a treat to see them all year.

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  29. Hi Alice,

    Thanks so much for writing and sharing your experiences. It's good to know that the plumbers' heat tape worked so well for you.

    I appreciate everyone who has contributed to this discussion.

    Best wishes,
    Candace

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  30. Wow and thanks for all of this! I live in Woodinville and just getting ready to get my first feeder! I know its May, but I am actually looking forward to the winters now that I know they feed then! Would not have known unless I came across your blog. Thank you Thank you! P.S. I think this is really helpful here in the NW to educate each other and keep it going. And NO PESTICIDES! xoxo Thanks!

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  31. Hi Sandy,
    I'm so glad you found this blog post to be helpful and informative. I hope you'll come back to visit again! Maybe next winter you will let us know how your hummers are doing.

    Thanks for commenting,
    Candace

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  32. My feeder is up year around on west side of my deck! During the summer I change it approx every 4 days as solution(1/4 part sugar to water) disappears quickly,making sure to clean carefully around the openings as a mold can develop and small insects are sometimes trapped. During the winter our hummingbirds visit daily, including the snowy days this past winter! Anna hummingbirds are seen most frequently and I've learned to make their sound so they sit across from the deck in the laurels and we chit chat, I can sit still and they will come to the feeder. The most amazing piece of trivia is the high pitched sound they make as they dive down-that sound comes from the tail feather at the high rate of descending speed. Thanks PBS television!

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    1. Hello hummingbirdfriend,

      Thank you for sharing your tips and fascinating trivia. This summer we have one certain hummer visiting us who makes a very loud sound (from the wings, I guess) as he buzzes up to the feeder, much louder than any others. I wonder why. Any idea? He sounds like an electric razor!

      Thanks,
      Candace

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  33. Just north of Seattle, WA I have faithfully put up feeders for 6 years but only had minimal sightings of hummers. This winter however has been amazing. I started with just one little guy through November, 2 in December and now in January I have so many I cant keep track. I've been keeping the feeders fresh and thawed. I have one in the front yard and two on the back deck. Every morning I have my coffee and I watch them zip back and forth over the house, chasing each other around. We have flashes of purple, red, pink and green all day long! One hint, I bought a new feeder this year, it is shallow and round with a built in ant catcher reservoir on the top. My other songbirds drink out of the ant catcher and it sits so close to the eves that even in the 25* weather it didn't freeze solid.

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  34. Hello Feathers, and thank you for sharing your experiences with these delightful little visitors. Since you live in Seattle, you might be interested in today's post on my blog. I republished photos from the ice storm that we had around here one year ago this week, including some closeups of hummingbirds at a frozen feeder (which I promptly thawed out). Here's the link: http://goodlifenw.blogspot.com/2012/01/ice-storm-art-winter-garden-tour.html

    Thanks for writing!

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  35. I am having a computer glitch and cannot seem to publish a comment that came in on March 16, 2013. A reader from Portland, Oregon is wondering why the hummingbirds are no longer appearing at their feeder, even though it is clean and has fresh nectar. Has anyone else in the Portland area had this problem? We still see plenty of hummers here in Tacoma.

    My only thought is to contact the local Audubon Society folks to see if they might know of a reason.

    Thanks for writing!

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  36. I will chime in. I live in the Seattle area and we recently had a fairly impressive wind/rainstorm come through here a few days ago, on the first day of spring I think. Anyhow, I have not seen my usual visitors three Anna's, two females and one male since that time. I would imagine that the nest did not survive the storm, one of the females I believe had a nest nearby. The folks at the Seattle audubon society say the local hummers are pretty resilient so not sure where they have gone. I know it's not my nectar as I change both my feeders every five days. These birds have been coming regularly since last November. So, I will wait and see if they show again.

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    Replies
    1. I live in the Salem area in Oregon and during the most recent wind/rain storm we had in September, I was truly amazed and surprised to see our little hummers come to the feeder. I took all of my hanging plants down as to not have them thrown about the porch and left our hummingbird feeder up. I was truly surprised to see our little friends buzzing up to the feeder in the wicked rain coming down. They got smart though, they were first sitting on the outside of the feeder, but moved to the inside closest to the house. It seemed as though they were not getting as wet as sitting on the outside of the feeder. They came throughout the day even in the pouring rain and blowing wind. It truly amazed me. When night fell, they went home. I wondered how well they could fly in such heavy rain coming and going all day to the feeder.

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  37. Hi There "Anonymous" - I happened to be driving from Tacoma to Seattle, on I-5, when that "impressive wind/rain storm" came through. I wouldn't have wanted to be a hummingbird right then! Thanks for sharing your interesting comments and personal experience.

    And if "Anonymous" from Portland is still following this, I tried again to publish your comment but for some unknown reason it doesn't work. But I do thank you for writing and starting this discussion.

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  38. We live here in Portland and my humming bird appeared out of the blue on Jan 1st 2013 - trying for 4 years to attack them so this was amazing , up until now end of April they came and went but now I haven't seen one for over a week , is this normal in our spring blooming season - worried they won't come back --- I do keep feeders up and clean --- :(

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    1. Hello! Thanks for writing. All I can tell you is that my husband and I keep our feeders up year 'round, and we do notice that with the first big surge of blooms in the yard (like right now), traffic at the feeder does tend to drop off. But they always come back.

      I'll see what I can find out and try to provide more information about this. Maybe I'll write a whole new post. If I do, I'll put the link in the comments here, so people will be sure to find it. I've appreciated all the interest in this one. I guess it proves how much we all love those tiny birds.

      Best wishes,
      Candace

      P.S. Maybe some other readers will offer thoughts on your concern.

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  39. Candace...thank you for this great blog. I live on South Hill, in Puyallup and I had an Anna's hang out with us all winter. What a joy to see it on Christmas morning! I have 2 regulars now in my yard and I thought with all the fir trees and flowers I would get more, but I don't. The 2 I have are pretty bold. One came down to about 5 feet of the cat last night and gave it the evil eye.

    My parents "counted" 17 (that is how many they could actually count, but there were more) on the feeders on their back deck in Nisqually. They have been visiting for more than 20 years. My mom has seen them nest in the fir trees in the back yard, but they are transients...they never stay through the winter. She has a couple of annual pots, but that is it. I can't seem to attract more than the 2 I have now.

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  40. Hi Amy! Thank you for the compliment and for sharing your own hummingbird stories.

    It's so interesting to hear about people's different experiences, like comparing yours with that of your parents. I suspect that we have nests in our trees too, but I haven't been able to spot any.

    Thanks again for reading and sending this interesting comment. I hope you'll visit Good Life Northwest often, and if you have any story ideas about beautiful Puyallup, feel free to send them to me.

    Best wishes,
    Candace

    Candace

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  41. Hi Candace. I happened to find your site when researching about hummingbirds in the Pacific Northwest. I live in South Salem. We have been putting our home feeder out for the past several years and always receive a few hummingbirds. This year we have succeeded in attracting many varieties I believe as I have never seen many that are venturing to our feeder. This year we have about 10+ hummingbirds that are constantly visiting daily. We have some that have a black head, red ring around the neck; 1 has a green neck, 1 has a golden neck, 1 has a orange color on it, many different colors that I have never seen in our area. Many have had babies and they are very small coming to the feeder what looks like with their parents. There are some that are plain coloring just brown tones. This morning while sitting at the computer we saw one that was only about 2 inches in length. I cannot believe how fast they can go through homemade hummingbird food. We have to fill about once a week as they practically live on the feeder. They also seem to like all of the flowers we grow in our yard. I have seen several of them hanging on my husbands fire stick flowers. Sometimes when they come to the feeder, they will actually sit on the feeder for a period of time before the buzz away. We have actually stood on our front porch when they come to the feeder and eat, but if you move they will fly away. Sometimes in the evening when we are watering our yard, we see them sitting in the nearby trees waiting for us to move away from the feeder before they will come and eat. I know my husband and I have enjoyed many hours watching them come throughout the day.
    Thank you for your website and all of the information you provide.

    Lori H.

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    Replies
    1. Thank you for writing, Lori. It's always fun to hear people's stories of their experiences with hummingbirds. Sorry for the late reply. I missed this in my inbox. I'm curious... when you say "fire stick flowers" could you possibly mean what I call "red hot pokers?" I don't know the botanical name. If they attract hummingbirds, I might want to plant some!

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    2. Red Hot Pokers or Torch Lillies have attracted both hummingbird and Western Tanagers to our yard in Portland. It is especially fun that the male tanagers resemble the flower. Great humnmingbird blog you have here!

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  42. I live in Arlington WA.I have 2 Hummers for the first time that stayed past August. They appear to be female and juvenile male Anna's hummingbird.I will keep my feeders out and see what happens.I have been feeding birds for years so we are very excited to see what develops. Will keep you posted.

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    1. Please do let us know how it goes. Thanks for commenting and good luck!

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  43. i live in Olympa,WA since 1973. This is the first time i have ever seen hummingbirds this time of the year. This info was so helpful because i was really worried about them being here so late in the year. I have 2 Anna hummingbirds. I think they may have a nest with babies in my noble fir. This morning one came to the feeder. Sat on the rail of the feeder and drank for along time. Then flew into noble and lots of noise started coming from the tree. Like a bunch of hummingbirds flying around. It is so cool. I love watching them in the summer now i get to watch them in the winter.
    Thanks for your information.

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    1. Hello there! I'm glad you found this helpful. Thanks for writing and for reading Good Life Northwest. I hope you will visit again.

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  44. I live in Everett, Wa. , and I've had hummy's every year since I moved here from FL.in the winter if it freezes, they look at me, as if hurry up and get it de-frosted...but
    I love watching them...I rigged up a holder right outside my kitchen window...they are very territorial, tho...I have 2 right now, and one always chases the other away....

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  45. I live in Sequim, WA. Our usual hummingbird visits start around St Pattys Day and end around the 4th of July. If I don't get the feeders out in time the hummers hover outside my picture window scolding me until I service them. This summer I left my feeders out well past early July because there were still hummers around. In the almost 16 years I have lived here, I had never known them to stay this late. I have a pair of Anna's that come every day, several times. It thrills me every time I see them. Year 'round hummers, who would have guessed I would be so blessed!

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    1. It thrills me too! I'm glad you have these little visitors to brighten your days, Nancy. Thanks for writing.

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  46. We still have several around. I was SO worried, as temps got down to 34 this morning, and it's supposed to get into the twenties the next few days. So THANK YOU for your advice!
    Now, is there any type of shelter we can provide for them? Being in the desert here, we don't really have any good, evergreen trees in town. I DO have a very thick vine of cat's claw along the walls, that *I* think would make perfect shelter, but I'm not sure our hummers have realized that yet...

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    1. It was in the low 20s here in Tacoma this morning and I thought about our hummers too. Your question about shelter is a good one! I'm going to consult with my friends at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology and see what they have to say about this. Maybe I need to write a whole new blog post on this topic. Thanks for bringing up this point. Stay tuned....

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    2. Thank you, that would be great! I'm thinking I could turn this into a great project for my Cub Scouts... :)

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  47. We live in Milwaukie Oregon. I've noticed hummers hanging out so I got my feeders up post haste. We live on the fourth floor of the building with a beautiful view of Mt . Hood. Our balcony is about 25' long so I put feeders at each end. Your blog has helped relieve my mind about winter shelter for them. We bring the feeders in at night to keep them warm and put them out again in the early morning, usually before the sun comes up all the way, I guess dawn would best describe it. All the comments here have been so helpful and it's obvious these little guys have a faithful following. Thanks again for having this here for we hummer fans. Best holidays to all. MaryLou

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    1. Hello Mary Lou,

      Thank you for sharing your experience. I'm glad the post was useful to you. This post has brought in SO MANY comments since first published that I've decided to write a new one, this time specifically about how these tiny birds survive the cold. I have some new information from someone at the Cornell University Lab of Ornithology. What I haven't had is the time. I've been on deadline for a magazine article. As soon as I turn that in I'll be writing about hummers again! Please stay tuned.

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  48. I haven't heard of Ana's hummingbirds surviving extreme cold, but I wanted to report that our Ana's have made it through 3 or 4 nights of 5-17 degree temperatures this winter (we're near Oregon City, but our temps have been running 5 degrees colder in the early morning the past week). We may have lost one when it hit 5 degrees but I am hoping it will come around today. I have been putting out warm sugar water around 8-8:30 so I don't think they even need it before dawn. I might try the heated feeder trick someday but increasing the sugar to 1/3 the volume of water looks like it is it more resistant to freezing at extreme cold temps.

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  49. Any recommendations on shelter? I am in Portland OR and it is snowing like crazy right now-my hummer is hanging out on the deck on a small tree. I have changed 2 feeders that were frozen. Is there anything I can provide for more shelter?

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    1. Hello Angie,

      We all cringe, thinking about these little creatures out in the cold, but I have learned that their bodies enter a state of torpor. Sometimes they shelter in little cracks and crevices. Here's an interesting science blog post I just read: http://scienceblogs.com/grrlscientist/2006/04/09/hummingbirds-and-torpor/

      I hope you folks thaw out soon. It's been very cold here in Tacoma, but we've only had a light dusting of snow.

      Thanks for writing,
      Candace

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  50. Check out this web page. This person sells heated humming bird feeders. We have struggled with frozen feeders. This looks like a solution. http://www.hummersheateddelight.com/

    Andy

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    1. I did check it out, Andy. It seems great! Thank you for sharing this information.

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  51. I've just discovered this blog, and have a question for those that have some knowledge regarding my dilemma. For the past year I have been feeding the hummingbirds, and have been enjoying them immensely. I even went out on an hourly basis, when the temperatures in winter were below zero, to swap out the feeders before the nectar would freeze. We had one Anna stay through the winter, and she's still hanging around. Now we are planning to move in one month, and I don't want to cause any hummingbirds to stay especially the one Anna I've become attached to. Anybody have any suggestions?

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  52. We live in Eugene, OR and have the the pleasure of a male and female Anna's hummingbird coming to our feeder over the past month. Really enjoying them, especially when they have fed and sit in our birch tree and take the time to sing their "scratchy" songs to us. Was interesting to find out that they will winter here in the Pacific Northwest. I plan on keeping the feeder going for them if they stick around. Hoping they will use our 10' dwarf blue spruce for their nightly nesting spot. I was wondering if anyone knows of a "winter" shelter type box that they use or might use? I have done some searching and so far, only nesting materials and nesting open type boxes come up. Hopefully, they will roost in the spruce and I might try experimenting with some types of enclosures to see it they will use it.

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  53. Hi. What a great amount of sharing. I live in Graham, Wa This year I have several Anna's hanging around our feeders. I was concerned so came across this blog and am thrilled to know some of the Anna's stay throughout winter. We will continue to keep the feeder thawed out and supply water as well. We have a bird feeder under our canopy and 2 hummer feeders. They are heavily frequented. Thanks for some of the great tips to keep feeders from freezing. I am trying them tonight. These little guys are helping me stayed cheered up through the winter. They make me smile and realize what a great job God does with all these little creatures and their ability to make living worth while.

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Your comments, ideas and suggestions are welcome.