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Hummingbird Feeders | JOAN CARSON | Wintering With Hummingbirds

Posted By: junmar

We may not like change, but it’s amazing how rapidly we adapt to it. This occurred to me while I was washing out one of the hummingbird feeders. Yes, the hummingbird feeders.

We’re going to have hummingbirds around all winter and that is something very new in recent years. Gone are the days when the hummers started leaving our yards in late summer. The rufous hummingbirds still head south even though I hear of occasional sightings during the winter. Our rufous left weeks ago and the hummingbirds we will enjoy throughout the winter are the Anna’s. They have become a year-round resident hummingbird throughout much of the Northwest.

Feeding hummingbirds became popular in the sixties. The rufous was the only one that visited our yards, but there was talk about the Anna’s hummingbirds that wintered on Vancouver Island. They also migrated up our coast in the spring. Knowing what we know now, perhaps they were out on the coast all year-round. It’s just that we weren’t expecting them or looking for them in the winter.

Their winter presence on the Olympic Peninsula became better known when residents living in the community of Diamond Point began reporting hummingbirds in the middle of the winter. I remember driving around the area in December or January, hoping for a glimpse of one. Tales of wintering hummingbirds were few and far between but they did occur almost every winter. Anyone visited by one was thrown into a sense of responsibility that wasn’t always pleasant. In good old people-fashion, we felt we had been given charge for the bird’s well-being, even its survival.

One story is unforgettable. I think the incident took place in either Vancouver, Washington, or Portland, Oregon. The homeowners involved literally opened their doors to the bird and it moved in. They had to make sure there was always food in the form of sugar-water syrup available. How long this tiny boarder stayed I don’t know but would assume that the first warming trend in the weather sent it outdoors.

Now, we’re old hands experienced in the care and feeding of hummingbirds ” aren’t we? I don’t think so. I’m not looking forward to freezing temperatures and frozen hummingbird feeders. “Our” birds have done very well the last two or three winters even when we take off and leave them for several weeks. There is natural food available or they wouldn’t be here. These birds stay the winter because there are plants and tiny insects for them to use as food. Just the same, I worry about them. The sugar-water mixture we put out is a welcome treat. There’s no denying that. When it is cold and freezing, they stay close to the feeders.

Cold weather is on the way and I am mentally gearing up for seeing the Anna’s through another winter. We will have three perhaps four feeders to work with. Most of the time, we keep two outside because there is less arguing and more feeding. When everything freezes, I will try keeping it thawed by leaving a light on above it, or wrapping hand warmers around the glass. I also know we will be rotating frozen and unfrozen feeders regularly, especially in the early morning. It may be a bit of work but these birds do add beauty, color and entertainment to our lives.

Even so, I’m wondering when a commercial “feeder stall” will come on the market. It will be something that will hold a feeder, supply heat and you should be able to plug it in to a porch light or other outdoor source of electricity. Don’t forget ” you heard about it here first. If you create one, be sure and let the rest of us know about it.

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