Feeding Hummingbirds in the Winter {12 Easy Tips}

Feeding Hummingbirds in the Winter {12 Easy Tips}

Looking for additional information about feeding hummingbirds during the winter?

You must be among the fortunate people who reside in a state where hummingbirds spend the winter.

That’s excellent, but it’s crucial that you are aware that over the winter, your hummingbird feeders require a little bit more attention.

Hummingbird species including the Anna’s, Allen’s, Costa’s, ruby-throats, rufous, and others don’t always move south. Some people choose to spend the entire winter in the United States.

Hummingbird survival is significantly hampered by the numerous climate variations that the winter season brings. Let’s examine these problems.

Why feeding hummingbirds in the winter is important

Cold weather

We are all aware that winter weather typically consists of bitterly cold temperatures, snow, and blizzards.

The outdoors must be able to support tiny hummingbirds. They must have sufficient energy to enter a regular state of torpor in order to be able to do this.

By leaving your feeders out, you’ll give local hummingbirds that overwinter in your neighborhood access to energy.

Lack of flowers

All the magnificent nectar-producing plants and blooms have withered away in the winter. Hummingbirds rely on these plants as a major source of energy.

Hummingbirds feed in order to continue looking for tree sap as a source of energy in the absence of nectar from natural plant sources. They expend more critical energy during the day as a result of this hunt.

Hibernating insects

You may already be aware that hummingbirds do not primarily eat nectar. Insects are what it is.

Hummingbirds could definitely use some assistance in the winter to have more energy to discover them. The hummingbirds merely need to search harder for them because there are still plenty of insects in the area.


It appears odd for birds to breed in the winter. However, certain hummingbird species do, including the Allen’s and Anna’s.

The female hummingbirds will need to find even more insects to feed the young once they hatch. Your feeders will assist in giving the females a reliable energy source in that area.

Shorter days

The days will be shorter during the winter. That indicates that there are a lot fewer hours of daylight left each day for hummingbirds to look for food.

Hummingbirds have to work harder to gather enough energy to enter torpor without the assistance of your feeder. Always keep in mind that hummingbirds need torpor to survive.

You’ll probably agree that the winter months can be very difficult for these little hummingbirds.

the positive news There are a few things you can do with your hummingbird feeders to greatly simplify their wintertime lives. And in this guide, I’ll demonstrate how to do that.

Like how that sounds? So let’s begin straight away.

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12 Tips for Feeding Hummingbirds in the Winter

1. The right design

Using a high-quality bird hummingbird feeder is the first step in assisting your hummingbird through the winter.

The bank balance will thank you for those $1 feeds. In actuality, though, it’s a false economy because you’ll need to keep buying them.


They’re composed of subpar plastic, which is simply not durable over the cold.

Your hummingbird feeders should not leak, crack, or otherwise be damaged. When they have to endure extremely cold wind, snow, blizzards, and ice, that is simple to do.

In the winter, I would strongly advise utilizing a glass hummingbird feeder rather than a plastic one.

Plastic is far less resilient than glass during the harsh winter months.

Additionally, you need a feeder with a manageable size and few portholes.

What makes me say this?

Well, ideally, frozen nectar should be able to defrost fast, and this can be accomplished with fewer amounts. Additionally, unlike throughout the summer, you won’t be feeding hummingbirds by the hundreds. For your winter hummers, a smaller feeder will keep your nectar fresh.

Consider using some of these fantastic hummingbird feeders during the winter.

2. Use window feeders

In the winter, you might think about switching to a window feeder from a hanging one.

You may get a close-up view of any visiting hummingbirds thanks to the window feeder.

Depending on where you live, you might also discover that a window feeder will offer some warmth and safety for the feeder.

Hummingbirds will find it simpler to feed in the early morning hours if your feeder is kept free of snow or protected from freezing temperatures.

Additionally, a glass feeder will make it simpler to determine how much nectar you still have and whether it is tainted. By doing this, you may keep the nectar for your hummingbirds considerably fresher.

One of the most popular window feeders on Amazon is this one. Even in the morning, you can add some warm water to the ant moat. Any nectar that froze overnight will benefit from this to defrost it.

3. Take it in

Bringing your feeder indoors for the night is one of the simplest methods to provide your hummingbirds access to unfrozen nectar.

If you reside in a region where the temperature goes below 40°F at night, this is your best option.

To ensure that your hummingbirds always have access to nectar, you might even want to rotate a few feeders.

The plan is to replenish the feeders every morning with a fresh supply of nectar that hasn’t been frozen. The hummingbirds won’t have to wait for the nectar to defrost when they arrive at a feeder that isn’t warm.

However, the biggest disadvantage of this approach is the early morning wake-up call. That’s because hummingbirds awaken with the sun and begin searching for nectar right soon.

4. Change Location

The location of your hummingbird feeders is one of the things you’ll need to think about in the winter.

This is bad for the hummingbirds and your feeders if you have it hanging in an open place.

The extreme weather conditions will have to be overcome via an exposed feeder. While they feed, your hummingbirds might also have to deal with blowing snow, wind, or ice.

To hang your feeders, try to find a location that is sufficiently protected. This will give your hummingbirds safety and extend the life of your feeders.

5. Cover it up

Use a weather guard if moving your hummingbird feeders is not an option.

These plastic objects resemble the tips of umbrellas for your feeders. Your hummingbird feeders and your birds will be shielded from the harsh winter cold.

Rain, sleet, and snow will just roll off the top of your feeder, leaving it clear so that the hummingbirds may eat in peace.

A weather dome is a worthwhile investment all year round. In the summer, it might shield feeders from the sun. Additionally, it aids in keeping pests like ants and squirrels away from your hummingbird feeders.

6. Heat it

The logical thing to do with frozen nectar would be to heat it up to defrost it.

There are methods that birdwatchers employ in an effort to prevent frost from forming on their hummingbird feeders.

Several well-liked options include:

  • the use of hand warmers
  • Holiday lights are coiled around the feeder.
  • illuminating the feeder with a bright light
  • the use of heated feeders
  • heat cable for plumbers

We must not hurt any migratory birds while birdwatching.

The problem with these remedies is that if they are applied improperly, they could endanger the hummingbirds’ safety.

Using wires and attachments on your feeders requires extreme caution. The hummingbird running the risk of being tangled.

If you want to take this route, make sure to utilize outdoor outlets and plugs to reduce the risk of electrical shock.

7. Insulate

Heating your hummingbird feeders might not be an option for reasons of safety. However, you have the choice to reduce the rate at which the nectar freezes by maintaining an insulated feeder.

You can wrap your feeder bottle with a bubble wrap jacket covered in aluminum insulating tape. You may use anything like this to prevent your pipes from burst during the winter.

Because this tape is very sticky, try to avoid using it directly on your feeders. If you try to take it off again, your feeder will probably be damaged.

The bubble wrap acts as an additional layer of insulation when placed underneath. It may be simply removed in time for spring cleaning and the feeder.

A knitted or crocheted feeder cover is an additional adorable technique. These look very cute, but I’m not sure how useful they are. If you’re not crafty, you can just cut the toes off an old pair of thick socks. Utilize pure wool wherever possible to assist your feeder stay warmer.

8. Don’t adjust the ratio

8. Don’t adjust the ratio

It is advised to mix 1 part sugar with 4 parts water.

In the winter, some hummingbird observers advise adopting a 3:1 ratio.

Sugar water doesn’t freeze as quickly as regular water, which explains why. Therefore, the nectar will freeze more slowly the more sugar there is in the water.

Additionally, there is the theory that the additional sugar will give the hummingbirds greater energy.

And while all of that makes sense, I don’t suggest adjusting the ratio throughout the winter.

why not

The nectar solution that most nearly resembles the nectar that birds consume from flowers is produced by a 4:1 ratio.

Additionally, the Seattle Audubon group claims that hummingbirds find it more difficult to consume sugar water that is more concentrated. Want you know what’s worse, though? The kidneys and liver of a hummingbird may be harmed.

While it’s important to make every effort to assist the hummingbird, going above and above may endanger them.

Wintertime sugar ratio changes are only better for you, not the hummingbirds.

9. Provide shelter

Providing local hummingbirds with nearby refuge is one of the best methods to draw them to your feeder throughout the winter.

If the hummingbird has a place to hibernate and doesn’t have to move far, it’s possible that they’ll use your feeders all winter long.

Hummingbirds choose a protected tree that shields them from the elements and potential predators as their ideal habitat.

You can hang a woven hummingbird housing close to your feeder to assist the hummingbird. This will serve as their nighttime shelter.

10. Keep it clean

Remember that in the winter you need to maintain your hummingbird feeders clean.

Though it’s possible that your nectar won’t go bad as rapidly as it does in the summer. Remember that during the winter, your feeder may not empty as quickly.

No matter how frequently hummingbirds visit your feeders, it’s best to clean them every 3–4 days.

If you don’t maintain your feeder properly, birds can carry a number of diseases that swiftly spread to other birds. Even throughout the winter, these bacteria and viruses are still active.

Wintertime is a bad time for illnesses like salmonella in the avian population. The easiest way to stop an infection from spreading to your hummingbird visits is to use clean feeders and fresh nectar.

11. Keep topped up

Hummingbird feeding takes longer in the winter than it does in the summer. It could take longer to empty your feeders if only a few hummingbirds are utilizing them.

Simply make sure to monitor your nectar levels. If you forget to refill your feeder, your hummingbirds can be without a consistent source of nectar. If they are unable to find another food source, this may cause them to starve.

Your hummingbird feeder could be used by other species as an accessible food source in the winter. So keep an eye out in the morning for empty hummingbird feeders.

Every day, check the nectar levels in your feeders. It only takes a few seconds to complete this. Take down your feeder, clean it, and then replenish it if it’s low or empty.

12. Offer Water

Your hummingbirds’ water source is one item you might not have stored over the winter.

There may be snow and ice everywhere, but they are useless once frozen.

Even throughout the winter, hummingbirds require access to fresh water. You are able to provide them this for them.

Using a gadget like this to heat your birdbath is a quick and easy way to guarantee a steady supply of water that doesn’t freeze over. To get rid of any frost layer on the surface, you may also top off any water source in your yard with warm water.

Feeding Hummingbirds in the Winter – FAQs

Can hummingbirds drink cold nectar?

Whether or not you should provide hummingbird nectar when it’s cold is a hot topic of discussion.

You’ll come across a lot of anecdotal advice that says, “My hummers eat cold nectar, and they’re OK.”

And it could be the case. But think about this.

The National Audubon Society advises against providing your hummingbirds with cold nectar.

This is due to the possibility that the colder temperatures could result in a cold-stunned state. I like to make the comparison between this and the mental fog you get after eating ice cream too rapidly.

For hummingbirds, this cold stun can be lethal. Additionally, if the hummingbirds take off, you might not immediately notice the impact.

I advise you to bring in your feeders at night so as not to disturb the hummingbirds. Particularly if you reside somewhere where the nectar freezes almost completely.

Can you buy heated hummingbird feeders?

Yes, heated hummingbird feeders are available. These have a tiny electrical heat box attached to the feeder’s base.

To use these feeders, you’ll need a weatherproof electrical outlet.

Should you leave hummingbird feeders out in winter?

As long as a hummingbird is present in your yard, you may leave the hummingbird feeder out.

Some states on the west and south coasts have hummingbirds that remain there all year round.

Leaving a hummingbird feeder out won’t prevent hummingbirds from migrating, so don’t be concerned. This is a misconception, because hummingbirds can only travel south when their hormones and sunshine instruct them to.

You can read my guide to removing your hummingbird feeders to find out when you’ll probably see the last of them.

Can you leave hummingbird feeders out in winter?

Hummingbird feeders may be left outside throughout the winter. However, you must be certain that you are equipped for further upkeep.

Winter hummingbird feeder maintenance can be much more involved than summer maintenance.

Make sure the nectar doesn’t freeze and is accessible to the hummingbirds first.

Hummingbird feeders that are left up over the winter are more vulnerable to damage from inclement weather.

Additionally, you’ll need to keep cleaning them frequently. This prevents the hummingbirds from contracting any diseases.

Final thoughts

Final thoughts

Make sure your hummingbirds have easy access to any food you have available if you carry anything with you.

Make your yard as inviting for them as you can. In the bitter winter weather, give refuge and fresh nectar.

Keep in mind that hummingbirds that remain local are well suited to survive the winter. But if you want to make sure they make it through the winter, you should always lend a helping hand.

In the event that you found this post useful, please spread the word to your loved ones.

If you have hummingbird visitors over the winter, please let me know in the comments section.


When should I take my hummingbird feeder down for the winter?

As long as they are coming to your feeder, keep feeding them. Hummingbird adult males typically depart in the summer, months before the females and young. As long as hummingbirds are around, keep your hummingbird feeders up. After you’ve seen your last hummingbird, wait two weeks before removing your hummingbird feeders for the season.

How can I help my hummingbirds in the winter?

–  Bring your feeder in at night to prevent freezing. Hummingbirds do not feed at night. … For hummingbirds, this freezing shock may be lethal. If the hummingbirds fly away, you might not immediately notice the impact.

How often do you change hummingbird feeder in winter?

I advise you to bring your feeders inside overnight so you won’t hurt the hummingbirds. in particular if you reside somewhere where the nectar drops to almost frozen.

Should I feed hummingbirds in the winter?

Hummingbird feeders that are heated are available to buy. A small electrical heat box is included with them and is attached to the feeder’s base.

When should you stop feeding hummingbirds?

These feeders can only be used if you have a weatherproof electrical outlet.


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Sarah Green

Wildlife and Nature Fan & Author