I have seen many posts in which folks have said they wished their hummingbirds would migrate south so as not to freeze. And many others have said they were taking their hummingbird feeders down so they wouldn’t stop them from migrating. Both are inaccurate–hummers are not wimps and food does not interfere with their migration.
As I noted in my blog ‘Keep-hummingbird-feeders-out-to-help-stragglers’ in September, the experts at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology state:
- “A number of factors trigger the urge for birds to migrate, but the most significant one is day length. When the days get shorter, the hummingbirds will move on, regardless of whether there are still filled feeders available for them.
- We do, however, encourage people to keep their hummingbird feeders full for several weeks after they have seen the last hummer just in case there are stragglers in need of additional energy before they complete their long journey south.”
And there are many documented reports of hummingbirds that survive the snow and freezing temperatures. In fact, Anna’s Hummingbird winter in the state of Washington where they endure cold periods well–as long as they have food sources. On their webpage about wintering hummers the Seattle Audubon Society states, “If you have been feeding the hummingbirds and they have become accustomed to finding food in your yard, we would encourage you to continue this responsibility of maintaining this food supply as much as possible through the cold snap. “
Here is a video that shows several hummers going to a hummingbird feeder during a snowstorm.
How do these little birds survive? Again, they are much hardier than many believe. And they have the ability to go into a state of ‘torpor’: “a type of deep sleep where an animal lowers its metabolic rate by as much as 95%. By doing so, a torpid hummingbird consumes up to 50 times less energy when torpid than when awake.”
If you do have a hummer coming to your feeder during snowy and very cold weather, be sure to either 1)take the feeder in at night and put it back out early in the morning so the hummer can get the fuel it needs to survive or 2)try one of the methods on the Seattle Audubon Society webpage for keeping the feeder from freezing.
Have you hosted hummers during the winter before?
If you have, what have you done to make sure there was unfrozen sugar water available for the hummer(s)?