How keeping Hummingbird nectar from freezing is very possible.
I have some great info that will help you do this successfully.
There are a number of ways that this can be implemented.
But first you might be asking this question...
Let's look at why anyone would want to feed Hummers a liquid in the below freezing weather of the north.
Hummingbirds typically migrate from North America in the winter, for the most part, to south or central Americas.
Several types of Hummingbirds also inhabit the southern regions of Arizona and Texas all year where the temperatures are sufficiently warm enough.
There are exceptions though to those Hummers who travel to spend their winters in warmer climates . One is the Annas Hummingbird.
The Annas Hummingbird lives all year on the western coast of North America along
the shores of the Pacific ocean in California, Washington, Oregon and southern
British Columbia. Here the temperatures although cold only dip below zero occasionally so that dedicated bird watchers can be successful at keeping Hummingbirds at their feeders all year.
But occasionally stragglers occur in colder areas. And, there are also some Hummingbirds, who for whatever reason choose not to make the long migration trip.
Whatever the reason for not leaving it seems indifferent to us to not make an attempt to help these “hanger-ons”.
But what can we do?
On the west coast of North America as far north as Vancouver British Columbia, Hummers have stayed all winter for decades.
Enjoy this amazing video of one households winter chores in NW Oregon!
Isn't that amazing to us Hummingbird Lovers in the eastern half of the continent. I would love to be busy with taking care of those feeders all winter!
Here is a list of ways for keeping Hummingbird nectar from freezing:
1. Wrap a short string of outdoor Christmas lights (not LED as they will not get warm) around the nectar holder of the feeder. Keeping in mind not to use too many lights making the syrup too warm.
Would it matter about the colour of the lights? Studies show that Hummers do like red, orange or yellow the best, but not in exclusion to other colours.
2. The picture above shows a version of keeping syrup warm which worked well for the creator. Only one small light bulb is used and a foil plate to reflect the light back onto the feeder. This may not be enough if you live where the temperatures are typically below zero to keep the syrup from freezing, but worked well for this bird watcher.
3. Purchase a 125 watt infra-red light bulb (not the red type) and screw it into a clamp-on-light fixture. Place the light 1 to 2 feet from the feeder. You can connect it to a timer to come on during freezing temperatures or leave it on all the time. (Check the temperature of the syrup to adjust the distance. This information came from birdchaser.blogspot.ca)
This is what this set-up looks like below:
Normally it is recommended to mix the syrup solution to a 4:1 ratio. You can even make it weaker to a 5:1 ratio during the summer months and the Hummingbirds will not notice.
Many experts believe that mixing the syrup solution stronger to a 3 part water to 1 part sugar solution when it is colder will help the Hummers in cold temperatures. Giving them extra fuel to produce heat and energy at this needy time.
The stronger solution also has a slightly lower freezing level so it will also be helpful in keeping hummingbird nectar from freezing.
To sum it up, in cooler weather in early spring, late fall and all winter, a stronger syrup solution will assist in keeping nectar free of ice and give the birds more needed energy. Click here for a more in-depth discussion on syrup strength.
It will surprise you how well Hummingbirds will thrive even in the coldest temperatures. Their high rate of metabolism and the fact that they are designed to go into a deep sleep called “torpor” to conserve energy will make feeding Hummingbirds in winter a great success.
Most wild birds only need to migrate because of lack of food. Keeping warm is not a problem unless there is severe cold conditions or lack of available food sources.
If you would like to learn more about how Hummers have adapted to survive in winter and have greatly expanded their areas over the last few decades, here is a very interesting article from Birds and Blooms.
I hope this information helps you in keeping hummingbird nectar from freezing if you have little birds visiting your feeders in frosty weather.
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