Best Ways To Attract And Feed Winter Hummingbirds

Today more people are keeping their hummingbird feeders full throughout the winter and attracting more of the hummingbirds that don't migrate during the winter months.

It may 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. All of this means you can be very successful at attracting and feeding Hummingbirds in the winter. Actually, it’s recently been discovered that hummingbirds can survive winter conditions in the United States very well and many times return to the very same winter feeding grounds year after year. 

Most hummingbirds only need to migrate because of lack of food, so by having nectar feeders, plants and some natural habitat available all year, you are helping hummingbirds during the fall and the winter months.

Tips for Feeding Winter Hummingbirds

Hummingbird feeders filled with the classic nectar recipe can help the hummingbirds during the cold winter and help the birders attract more hummingbirds.
A simple recipe of 1 part sugar and 4 parts water, mixed in a pan, then brought to a boil (if saving some to refrigerate), is the only proportion you should feed them, then set it out when cool. You may store extra in the fridge up to two weeks. Clean your feeder/s once a week during cold weather, and do so every 2-3 days during warmer weather.

Do NOT adjust the mix! Keep the mix at 1:4 ratio sugar to water. Though increasing the sugar may help to prevent freezing, many experts recommend staying consistent with a 1:4 mix. White sugar and water only! No honey, brown sugar, maple syrup etc. Pure sucrose is what they need to survive. Also it is recommend by many to NOT use Red dye.

Keeping nectar from freezing is essential for feeding hummingbirds in the winter, and there are other important steps to keep in mind to ensure these birds are healthy even through the coldest season.

  • Just like the summer, always keep feeders clean to prevent mold and fungus that can be fatal to hummingbirds.
  • Refill feeders frequently so there is always an adequate supply of nectar for all overwintering hummingbirds.
  • Make sure that any cords or lights you are using to warm feeders are not in danger of shorting out.

Ways To Prevent Feeders From Freezing

Hummingbirds can the winter to be very challenging at times, but backyard birders who keeping hummingbird nectar from freezing can help these small flying jewels thrive even in the coldest temperatures.

Here is a list of many ways you can keep Hummingbird nectar from freezing in the winter:

Heating the Feeder: A 125 watt infra-red light bulb: First get the white light and not the red type of light. Screw the into a clamp-on-light fixture. Place the light 1 to 2 feet from the hummingbird feeder. You can connect the light to a timer so that it only comes on during freezing temperatures. Make sure you check the temperature of the nectar to adjust the lamp distance. Be sure all cords and outlets are protected from moisture and potential short circuits. Do not use LED or other low-heat bulbs, as they will not be able to heat the nectar sufficiently to keep it from freezing.

Wrap the Feeder With Christmas Lights: You can also wrap the nectar holder of the feeder with Christmas lights. Please don’t use so many lights that the syrup gets too warm. What about the color of the lights? Using red, pink or yellow lights also adds a glowing welcome that can attract hungry winter hummingbirds. Be sure the light strand is in good condition before wrapping it around a feeder, however, and avoid using any lights that have frayed cords or any other damage. This technique is best used with glass feeders, just in case the lights are up against the surface of the feeder. Plastic feeders may melt or warp if the lights are too warm.

Place Feeder in Protected Areas: Feeders that are exposed to chilly breezes can freeze the nectar more quickly. Try to place your hummingbird feeder in a place protected from the cold wind, such as covered porch, an eave or next to any windbreak. All of these tips will keep your feeder from getting covered with snow and ice and unfrozen for longer periods.

Bring Feeders Indoors: When the nights get extremely cold, it may be best to bring your hummingbird feeders indoors where they won’t freeze. If you bring them indoors, remember Hummingbirds need to feed very early in the morning, even before sunrise, so it’s essential to return the feeders outdoors as soon as the birds are looking to feed. It is also recommended that on very cold days, try to keep several feeders filled with nectar so that the feeders can be rotated indoors and there will always be nectar available.
Insulate Feeders: To insulate the feeder you can wrap the reservoir of a nectar feeder with bubble wrap or other insulation that has the ability to keep it from freezing. Try to
cover as much of the bottle as possible but of course, do not block the feeding ports. Also, be sure that the insulating wrap does not have any dangling strings or loose fibers that could be harmful to hummingbirds.

Snow Baffles: By covering a hummingbird feeder, you can keep the feeding ports from getting clogged with snow, ice as well as help keep the nectar from freezing. Choose a
wide baffle and it’s best if you choose one that has room for small perches underneath where the hummingbirds can rest while waiting to feed. If you can find a dark-colored baffle, this can attract small amounts of heat that can help keep the feeder a little warmer.

Safety first! Lights and heating tape present fire and electrocution hazards. Use only products that are rated for outdoor use, including extension cords. Do not use electric heating pads outdoors! Don’t enclose Christmas lights inside a cozy or place a cozy-covered feeder too close to a heat lamp—it could start a fire. Heat lamps or Christmas lights may melt the flimsy plastic discount-store feeders.

So this year keep an eye out for hummingbirds in the winter. If you maintain your hummingbird feeders through the summer and fall, the likelihood of you attracting hummingbirds in the winter is very good. And the hummingbirds will also be thankful!