You Won’t Believe How Many Hummingbirds Visited This Backyard

Updated: May 05, 2022

Last winter, multiple Anna's hummingbirds, dozens upon dozens, decided a Washington woman's backyard was the ultimate place to be.

Most bird enthusiasts are thrilled to see multiple hummingbirds in their backyard. Even just one brilliantly colored, fast-flying hummingbird sparks a smile. But last winter, Birds & Blooms reader Judy Cline experienced a phenomenon: Up to 100 Anna’s hummingbirds in her yard, all at once.

Dozens of Hummingbirds

HummingbirdsCourtesy Judy Cline
Judy saw multiple hummingbirds feeding two to a port, and sometimes standing on top of each other.

While most types of hummingbirds migrate south, Anna’s hummingbirds are known to stay across their western range year-round. Judy says she normally has 10 to 30 hummingbirds in her yard every day, even in cold weather! But when the crowd of multiple hummingbirds descended at the end of December 2021, she estimates there were up to a hundred of the buzzy birds. She had five feeders out that were drained dry every day. There were so many hummingbirds that she went through “two and three bags of sugar.”

Here’s how to feed and attract hummingbirds in winter.

We can’t know for sure why the large flock of hummers decided Judy’s yard in Washington was the place to be, but she has a theory. “I’m not sure if all of our neighbors who occasionally feed hummingbirds had frozen feeders or took them down,” she says. “But I’ve never, ever had that many in the wintertime. I think the word got out that the Cline residence was open for business, and the bar was open!” She said she believes the hungry birds were desperate, and there wasn’t enough food in the area for them. “So, they all came to my house,” she says.

Get answers to frequently asked questions about feeding hummingbirds.

Judy’s Advice for Feeding Winter Hummingbirds

Hummingbird Photo 2Courtesy Judy Cline
Judy wrapped her hummingbird feeders in layers of newspaper to keep the sugar water from freezing.

While many would keep their feeders inside in 7-degree weather, Judy solved the freezing problem. How? She wrapped the tops of her feeders with several layers of newspaper. She also made use of a heated hummingbird feeder. As for filling the feeders, Judy used the simple “4 to 1” sugar water ratio that we know hummers love. “I was mixing it up, sometimes, twice a day,” she says. She took her feeders down when the birds left for the night, then she’d set an alarm for 5 a.m. and put them out again.

Psst—your winter birds need a heated bird bath.

Equally essential as feeding the birds was keeping the feeders clean. Judy took her feeders in every other day to wash them, check closely for mold and replace the sugar water mixture. “You have to make sure that it’s clean,” she says. “Clean feeders are very important, and clean food is very important.”

Judy’s been feeding hummingbirds for more than a decade. She takes steps to ensure her yard is safe and provides well for the birds. “I do things like having a fountain bird bath — I have two or three of those that Anna’s will get in,” she says. “I call it ‘getting in the pool.'” She has also planted hummingbird-favorite flowers including salvias and fuchsias. “Anything with a trumpet,” she says of her flower choices.

Next, find out if hummingbirds will use a birdhouse.