My Hummer Didn’t Migrate

Read one man's story about when his hummingbird didn't migrate.

We recently received another email from a customer, “Mitch,” whose hummingbird hasn’t left his yard. Then another appeared. These are Anna’s hummingbirds and Mitch wanted to know how to keep them alive over the winter if they didn’t eventually migrate. I gave him this link to another article where Dawn Cusson kept a hummingbird over the winter and the techniques she used.

Then Mitch came up with a few ideas of his own.  Here’s the email he sent us–


I sent you an email on 10/3/11 regarding how to help a hummer that wasn’t going to migrate survive the winter. I have done some research and found little help, except for you and a local bird retailer.

I have come up with what I hope will make her stay more comfortable. In fact, we have had another arrival in the last few days. With this year’s exception, we have never had any Anna’s hummers. They have all been Rufous.

Anyway, I am enclosing some photos of what I have done to help these gals out. You will note that the feeder is sitting on a tray that I made. I used a bird bath deicer that is covered with felt to keep the nectar from freezing.

The “house” has a shielded light bulb to provide heat without the risk of burning her. I temperature-tested all heat sources to be sure no accidents would happen.

Will this work? I don’t know, but it’s worth a shot. We love our hummers.

Please feel free to give my e-mail address or this e-mail to anyone interested in the details of what I have done.

If you would like, I’ll let you know how well this as worked for the gals.

Once again, I appreciated your time and effort.

— Regards, Mitch

Thanks Mitch for your great ideas. Hopefully Mitch won’t be flooded with emails, but his address is if anyone has other ideas or needs details on what Mitch is doing. Good luck to the hummers!

UPDATE From Mitch!

The hummers are doing well. It has been about 20 to 35 F on average,  but haven’t had much snow.

Although I am far from an expert, I have learned much about hummer behavior and have been rewarded for my efforts to help them survive this winter.

They are much more social than I realized. When I check the feeder, many times they will land on the feeder and I will talk to them and they seem intent on listening (no, they don’t talk back to me). I have been as close as 1 foot. They seem to enjoy having the chickadees in the apple tree with them.

I have only seen them in the shed one time, but recently I saw one on the second feeder(as a backup) in the shed.

There is some important information for anyone who wants to use the system I have used.

1.) There is a substantial evaporation loss of the nectar over 24 hours with the de-icer coil on. I have reduced the evaporation in half by putting a 1/4 “natural fiber trivet  between the coil and feeder. By doing this I have reduced the nectar loss  from 3-4 oz. to 1-2 oz. per 24 hours.

Why is this important? As the evaporation process occurs, the concentration of the nectar will become too strong and may be hazardous to the hummer’s health.

I change the nectar every 3 days when I have to use the coil to keep it from freezing.

2.) You can use a thermo – cube to plug in the de-icer coil and turn it on and off in the constant cold weather. It turns on at 35 F and  turns
of at 45 F. Home depot carries these thermostatic taps. The  company’s # is 574-936-6688.

3.) I would recommend the aspects humzinger ultra 12 oz. feeder. They are an extremely well designed feeder and easy to clean.

4.) I would have a backup feeder ready if you need to replace the main feeder.

5.) Any one wanting detailed information about how I built any devices or other information you may contact me at: _septicplusinc@aol.com_ ( .

Please put ” Hummer Info.- M ”  in the subject line as I don’t open e-mails from people I don’t know.

I hope some of this information has been helpful.  I have derived  great pleasure and a much better understanding of hummers as a result of this experience.

Thanks for the update, Mitch!

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  • Martha Farris November 11, 2011 at 5:48 pm

    The hummers are fine outside and likely better off outside. They won’t freeze and won’t starve. They will either follow sapsuckers and drink from their sap holes or Mitch can just put out a feeder each morning for them or leave it out if it the temps are not going to freeze the nectar.
    I had one in ’94 which was one of the coldest iciest winters we had here in a while. I worried myself silly, but the hummer never missed a beat. They come to eat in snow or ice. We had a horrendous ice storm with temps reaching near 10 for over a week.. I about froze; the hummer did fine. I changed out the nectar every few hours when it was icy cold… and put new out each morning and brought it in each night to prevent freezing.
    It is a wee be time consuming.. but is it ever worth the effort!

    Let nature take its course with a little help from a feeder..
    They will be fine! Thanks for helping the little ones.

  • Richard O'Linn November 25, 2011 at 11:34 am

    I believe that I purchase my hummingbird feeders from you and also the hummingbird oriole feeder cleaner by IPSW-Carefree enzymes. If that is true I need to resupply.

  • Carolyn November 27, 2011 at 1:03 pm

    We live 45 miles southwest of Austin, Texas. With a severe drought and the wildfires, we saw an increase in the number of birds in our yard. In addition, we had to manufacture an oriole feeding station when we had three pairs in September. They went through a lot of oranges and tangerines the week they were here. Then earlier this month we had scrub jays for the first time as well as one yellow shafted flicker. Any suggestions on how to keep the new birds around if they show up again?

  • jamey January 1, 2012 at 11:14 am

    We have a hummer that didnt migrate this year. I bought a 1 qt heated dog dish and then took then resevoir off the bottom of my hummingbird feeder and top with the holes fits perfect on top of the heated dish. I added a few small bits of poster putty to keep it from blowing off. It works perfect!