Hummingbirds may need extra help during winter weather. (Facebook/Dreulani Dupuis)

Hummingbirds may need extra help during winter weather. (Facebook/Dreulani Dupuis)

Keep hummingbird feeders filled over winter, says Wild ARC

Consistent feeding important to tiny birds’ survival in Great Victoria

Humans aren’t the only ones shivering through B.C.’s cold snap.

After the recent temperature drop, some of Greater Victoria’s smallest critters are adjusting to the colder weather – including a B.C. favourite, the over-wintering Anna’s hummingbird.

Generally, the BC SPCA does not support feeding wild animals, but Meghan Hatch, assistant manager at the Wild Animal Rehabilitation Centre (Wild ARC) in Metchosin, said hummingbirds become reliant on feeders they already frequent, especially during the winter months.

“Hummingbirds are the one sort of wild animal that might be more impacted by the cold weather because we have altered their habits a little bit with our offering of hummingbird feeders in the winter,” Hatch said.

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“We don’t always recommend feeding wildlife, but in the winter months especially, if you’re someone who feeds hummingbirds … it’s almost a responsibility to continue to do so, ensuring they still have access to that food source especially when the temperatures dip below zero.”

As for the sugar water, Hatch recommends a formula that is four parts water and one part white sugar – a mixture that most closely resembles the tiny bird’s natural diet.

Hatch said there’s no hard evidence against slightly increasing the sugar levels in the winter, but she still recommends against it.

Tina Lynne posted this picture to Facebook of her warmed up feeder. “In really cold snaps, I cover it with bubble wrap,” she said.

“With freshwater sources potentially being frozen over, the sugar water that people provide for the hummingbirds is also their source of water,” she explained. “If you add more sugar it dilutes that fresh water for them.”

More sugar can also increase the stickiness of the solution, which can harden on hummingbirds’ beaks or feathers.

Another winter dilemma for hummingbird lovers? Liquid solutions can freeze. Hatch said locals use everything from incandescent light strings and chicken coop heaters to thermal socks and large bulbs in order keep their feeders warm.

She also recommends regularly cleaning the feeder or switching it out with a second feeder to avoid bacteria buildup.



nina.grossman@blackpress.ca

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