For days, the United States Weather Bureau has been warning us that severe cold weather in about to blanket Georgia. If these prognostications prove to be correct, this weekend temperatures will plummeted into the teens. For those Georgians that are currently hosting, or hope to host, a hummingbird in their backyard this winter, this is disturbing news. Obviously, hummingbirds cannot feed on frozen nectar. In addition, if the nectar in feeders freezes the feeders often break. A hummingbird feeding solution of four parts water to one part sugar typically does not freeze until the temperature dips below 25ºF. If the temperature drops lower, feeders can be taken in at night and replaced the next morning. Another option is to use a light to keep hummingbird food from freezing. Many folks use a 150-watt bulb mounted in a light fixture attached to an alligator clip placed near a feeder to provide the heat needed to keep nectar from freezing on a cold winter night.
If the temperature remains freezing for a few days, you might find that you have to change out feeders during the day. In this way, hummingbirds will have access to an uninterrupted supply of sugar water.
Good advice, Terry. Many years ago we forgot to bring feeders in and the next morning we had a bird trying to feed from a frozen feeder. We’ve had two birds since mid November with flowers still blooming but of course that will soon change. Maybe I can contact a bander soon.
Aside from sapsucker holes, small insects or a warm winter day and feeders, most winter hummingbirds in this neck of the woods have slim pickings right now.
I took my feeders down after no birds for several weeks. Recent articles such as this one have me second-guessing my decision.
Should I have not taken down my feeders?
Should I put them back up?
Harbins Community, Dacula, Gwinnett County, GA
We keep one or two up each winter as we have for over 30 years. As stated, we keep spares for freezing weather to interchange. As Terry stated,one can use high wattage bulbs to warm the feeders, etc. We have had several birds banded over the years. It’s an enjoyable hobby. This extreme upcoming weather will present a challenge, no doubt.
I am happy to know you have been successful in attracting wintering hummers and that you have had positive experiences when folks have come to band them.
If you want to have a chance, put up one feeder. Fill it about a quarter to one-third full of nectar. Watch the level of the fluid in the feeder. That will tell you if a bird has found it. Chances are you will not see one, but you never know.
PS: Don’t let the food freeze.