Bird Feeding

From Dawn Winker Cusson

Female Anna's Hummingbird at the Hummingbird Feeder.

We recently got this story from one of our customers, Dawn Winker Cusson. Dawn lives in the Portland, Oregon area where Anna’s Hummingbirds stay all winter. Enjoy her story!

We had such a nasty blast of winter last year, I fed three hummingbirds all winter at my kitchen window. We put a heat lamp inside our kitchen window and attached a feeder on the opposite side, outside. The feeder would freeze completely in a couple hours without the heat lamp.

So every night I’d bring in the feeder, fill/clean it if necessary and in the morning, at 7am I’d take the feeder back out. The hummer would be at the feeder before I hardly had it in place and had my backed turned to go back inside. He perched out there A LOT, just sitting, staying out of the elements. We’re just a couple minutes from the Columbia Gorge and the wind howls, keeping temps low and cold.

They are all “Annas.” He hardly ventured too far away because it was protected from the gorge winds, on the West side of the house, with food nearby!

The snow was about three feet (VERY unusual for the Portland Oregon area). He found a twig that sprang up high enough it was out of the snow. I saw him sitting here quite a bit too!

And lastly, my husband moved one of our other feeders from a suction cup window feeder, to a higher up location hanging from the eave, that is out of the wind more. Even 6 inches made a big difference in the hummingbird’s ability to stay perched and feed. You just can’t imagine the winds here until you’ve experienced them.

About three weeks after this little blast I wrote about, we had a wind storm that rivaled our notorious “Columbus Day Storm” here in Portland in October of about 1962. We were out of town, and came back to trees down, fences down, and as we came up one road, street sign after street sign were leveled! Intermittent gusts occurring at around 60MPH.

So the hummers are hard pressed to make it through a winter of these winds. Amazing that they don’t fly south, but the Annas stay through.

Thank you, Dawn, for your interesting story, and for taking care of these tiny birds during a bad winter. Our hummingbirds, the Ruby-throated, are long gone from the Northeast by the end of September. So seeing hummingbirds in the snow is very unusual for us!

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  • Gail January 20, 2010 at 1:34 pm

    We live in Lake Oswego, Oregon and had a similar story during that big winter storm of 2008. I had two hummingbird feeders. I would put one out and leave the other one inside. I switched them out when the outside one froze. It worked really well. The hummingbird sat on a tree branch under the eave and waited until I would change them out. I hope that helped get them through the winter.

  • Barbara January 21, 2010 at 9:11 pm

    What an awesome story and pictures! Kudos to you for taking such good care of those hummers.

  • sushma surin January 25, 2010 at 7:08 am

    i like the story along with the picture… what a cute Bird and what a cute gesture of taking care of them…
    liked it all & enjoyed going through…thkx,

  • pharmacy tech February 1, 2010 at 9:40 am

    What a great resource!

  • Cyndi September 18, 2015 at 7:58 am

    While it is true that Ruby-throated Hummingbirds are long gone by the time snow comes…if you leave your feeder out you may be one of the lucky who has a western hummingbird migrant visit your feeder in winter. Here in the southeast we have had many of these hummers show up and some even spend the whole winter. So consider leaving a feeder. Who knows who might stop by!

    • Dawn Coutu September 18, 2015 at 8:08 am

      Hi Cyndi, that’s sounds like a great idea for those of us who choose to make it work. What do you find works well for you when feeding the hummingbirds in winter? -Dawn