Eugene, Oregon

Barbara & Dan Gleason

Barbara & Dan Gleason

We’re passionate about birds and nature. That’s why we opened a Wild Birds Unlimited Nature Shop in our community.

Eugene, Oregon

2510 Willamette Street
Eugene, OR 97405

Phone: (541) 844-1788
Fax: (541) 844-1732
Email: Send Message

Store Hours:
Mon - Wed: 10:00 am - 5:00 pm
Thurs - Thurs: 10:00 am - 6:00 pm
Sun - Sun: 11:00 am - 4:00 pm

Comments:
Eugene's Wild Bird and Nature Experts... Call us about monthly seminars, bird walks, and any wild bird questions...we're all about the birds!

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Hummingbirds

Anna's Hummingbird male
 Male Anna's Hummingbird, photo © Dan Gleason

Hummingbirds are among the smallest of creatures...but don't let that fool you into thinking they're fragile! Found only in North, Central and South America, hummingbirds weigh less than an ounce (about the weight of a penny!), migrate immense distances, and are the only birds that can hover and fly backwards.

Our summer-visiting Rufous Hummingbirds breed here in summer and leave in late summer. They are the only male hummingbirds that are a rufous-brown and white with a red gorget. But year-round we have the Anna's Hummingbird, and they have adapted to tolerate very cold weather!

Hummingbirds in Winter

Here in the Willamette Valley, leave your feeders up ALL YEAR! We DO have resident Anna's living here year-round, even in bitter cold weather, and they have great memories as to where reliable food sources are, so if you want to help them survive, keep your feeders clean and well-stocked year-round! To survive nighttime cold, hummingbirds go into a state known as "torpor" at night, lowering their body temperature and heart rate to conserve energy while they sleep. They choose a dense bush or other vegetation to roost in at night. (No, they don't take the so-called "hummingbird houses" that we've seen advertised, cute though they are.)

 

PLAN AHEAD... When temperatures dip into the low 20s or below, we recommend leaving your feeders out IF you can provide a way for the feeder to remain ice-free. Some of us use shop lights to warm the nectar, placing the light within 4-6 inches of one side of the feeder to keep it from freezing. Some folks use warming devices like reptile heating pads or heated plumbers tape. Anything that is safe for your birds and you (and your home) and that keeps the nectar from freezing is the goal.

 

Those of us who are home during the daytimes can also have 2 feeders thaat we rotate placing outside, bring one in to thaw every few hours as long as they stay ice-free. Once the water begins to freeze and gets cloudy or ice crystals start to form, it's time to bring it in. Hummingbirds should not consume the more sugary solution that results when the ice begins to separate from the solution. That solution can harm them, and we have heard about some hummers that had their tongues stick to frozen nectar, sadly, sometimes killing them. Watch your feeders and do not let this happen! The solution can start to freeeze at 26 degrees, so be attentive if this is your plan!

 

If you have been feeding the hummingbirds and they have become accustomed to finding food in your yard, we would encourage you to continue the responsibility of maintaining this food supply as much as possible through any cold snap. Things we recommend in assisting you in supporting these birds are the following:

 

1. Do NOT adjust the mix! Keep the mix at 1:4 ratio sugar to water. Nectar concentrations vary greatly among a variety of plants hummingbirds visit, but they are typically low in sugar. Recipes with a higher concentration of sugar do not necessarily benefit hummingbirds because it cannot travel up the grooves of their tongue easily and may also damage kidneys and liver. Though increasing the sugar may help to prevent freezing, our experts recommend staying consistent with a 1:4 mix. White sugar and water only! No honey, brown sugar, maple syrup etc. Pure sucrose is what they need to survive. We do NOT recommend Red dye.

 

RECIPE: A simple recipe of 1 part sugar and 4 parts water, mixed in a pan, then brought to a boil (if saving some to refrigerate), is the only proportion you should feed them, then set it out when cool. You may store extra in the fridge up to two weeks. Clean your feeder/s once a week during cold weather, and do so every 2-3 days during warmer weather.

 

2. Have two feeders and rotate them. The mix will begin to freeze around 26-29 degrees. Rotating the feeders throughout the day will keep the fluid moving and available to the birds. Hummingbirds do not feed at night so you can bring the feeders indoor.. however they start before dawn so get a feeder back out as early as possible. Anna's can be very territorial, and may not share a feeder (especially multiple males), so having multiple feeders can help break up the fighting and competition for a single feeder.

 

3. Don’t enjoy setting your alarm for 5am? String Christmas lights around the feeder, the ambient heat can be just enough to keep things thawed (depending on how cold it gets). Or hang a trouble light near the feeding station, about 406" away, or from the bottom of the feeder. These are the lights commonly used by car mechanics, or garage enthusiasts, with a little cage around it and a hook at the top. Depending on the wattage, it can put out enough heat on those especially cold nights.

 

4. Duct tape a hand warmer to the feeder. These hand warmers (or feet warmers) are pouches with chemicals in them that get activated once out of their packaging. They emit heat for approximately 7 hours. They are commonly available around town, Fred Meyers, sporting goods, probably a hardware store even has them.

 

5. Finally, another method to try is plumber’s heat tape. These flexible electric tapes are similar to a flat extension cord and can easily be wrapped around and taped to many types of feeders. Most heat tapes are equipped with a built-in thermostat in the cord. The wattage of these tapes is very low and they do not draw a lot of energy. Try home supply stores and hardware stores for this product.

 

6. Don't stress too much about the welfare of the Hummingbirds. Generally, our winters are mild and cold snaps usually don't last too long. Hummingbirds are capable of reducing their body temperature at night and conserving their energy. They roost in trees and shrubs and do not use nest boxes or bird houses. They need a lot of sucrose (nectar) during the day to keep them going especially in the cold. In addition to nectar for fuel, hummingbirds will consume any insects they encounter which help them meet their protein, vitamin and mineral requirements. Insects can be found under bark and plants even during winter cold periods.

 

Extended periods of cold are especially hard on these small birds designed to spend winters in warmer climates. Some birds will not make it, however the strong ones will find a way to survive. Continuing to offer nectar is a way in which we can assist them.

 

Also consider a water source for the birds in general. Birds need water and when everything is frozen water can be hard to find. A pan of water that has a birdbath heater under it can be a big help. A heated birdbath is great, too, of course.

 

Hope these tips are useful. We would love to see photos of your birds!
Feel free to send us your winter hummingbird photos and we will post them on our website.
Email to eugenewbu@gmail.com

Hummingbirds & You

 

Hummingbirds have fantastic memories, and are capable of remembering where flowers and feeders were found previously, even a year earlier, in the case of our summer resident Rufous Hummingbirds. They return to that exact same spot upon their return in Spring. If they don't find a feeder there, they will continue on until they find food.

 

Hummingbirds, especially our Anna's and Rufous species, are ounce for ounce some of the fiestiest little birds. They will claim (i.e.protect) as many feeders as possble and keep busy chasing away all other hummingbirds. If this happens to your yard, the best solution is to hang multiple feeders, making sure that the resident hummer cannot see all feeders at one time. This will allow other birds a chance to feed. One Eugene resident hummingbird-lover has up to 30 feeders out and the birds do not then try to defend them all. No one male could possibly do so, and their behaviour changes in such situations.

Picking the Correct Feeder

With so many feeders on the market, it can be confusing to choose one that is best for you. The answer is very simple; chose one that you can clean easily (thus often) and doesn't leak.

 

Avoid pretty feeders that have a glass down-spout. These will always leak and can cause either an ant invasion or just make a real mess. Also avoid feeders that have lots of small crevices or corners. These will be impossible to clean.

rufous and high perch

 

Click on the link below to watch hummingbirds feeding on the best style of feeder, easy to clean and leak proof!

Hummingbirds Feeding on the WBU Feeders

The best feeders are basin or saucer style. These feeders have a flat bottom and a top that simply lifts off — no crevices to trap old solution. Most are made from a durable, polycarbonate that resists fading from UV exposure, and which does not off-gas like cheaper plastics, and the roof will keep the red color that the hummingbirds love for years. A basin feeder will not leak and usually has perches for the birds to use while feeding. Studies have found that if a hummingbird can perch, they will feed longer (as long as they don't feel the need to constantly patrol every feeder!)

 

 
Roufous male, on WBU High Perch Feeder. Available in Small (8 oz), Medium (12 oz), Large and Mini (4 oz) Several hummingbirds on
WBU Window Feeder
 

 

 

Cleanliness is extremely important when feeding hummingbirds. Fermented nectar occurs when the solution sits too long in the feeders and it is a danger to hummers, harboring dangerous molds, mildew and toxins. Any hummer attempting to drink from these feeders will leave and possibly not return so it is important to remove any trace of fermented syrup or mildew before refilling. To do this, use a port brush to get into the small openings and use a small amount of vinegar in hot soapy water to clean the entire feeder thoroughly. The vinegar will work just as well as bleach but without bleach's harmful side effects. Rinse VERY well before hanging your feeder back out.

 

Again, when feeding hummers, the sugar solution must be one part sugar to four parts water, 1:4. This concentration closely resembles the sucrose that hummingbirds find in the flowers they feed from. Any mixture that is a higher concentration than 4:1 can be potentially harmful. If there is too much sugar, they will find it difficult to break it down in their bodies, leading to dehydration and possible kidney damage. Also, the heavy syrup that occurs in a thick mixture of sugar and water can coat their tongues and make it almost impossible for them to feed.

 

NECTAR RECIPE
The Following is recommended by hummingbird experts:
•  Combine 4 parts water and 1 part sugar until sugar dissolves. Boil it if you plan to refrigerate it for later.
•  Let cool, then either use in your hummingbird feeder, or store the rest of solution in refrigerator.
•  Change in cool weather once a week
•  Change in warm weather twice a week
•  Change in hot weather three times a week

NOTE: Do NOT use ANY food coloring. Do not use anything other than white sugar. Stronger solutions are more difficult for hummers to digest and can be fatal.

 

Only use white sugar or a boxed fine sugar like ones we carry in our store when making food for your hummingbirds. Brown sugar, molasses or honey can sicken the birds. Do NOT use any hummingbird solution that contains red dye. Although it has not been proven that red dye is harmful to hummingbirds, there have been a few studies linking red dye to harm to hummingbirds so we believe that is better to err on the side of caution and not give our little friends any chemicals in their food. Your plain ordinary table sugar as well as our WBU boxed sugar contain no additives and the hummers really like it. To make it easy to mix you can add one box to our nectar bottle, fill with water and you have plenty of nectar for a couple of weeks, depending on how hungry your hummers are, of course!


The best way to attract hummers to your yard is to make it "hummingbird friendly". Hummers are woodland birds and need a variety of flowers and small insects to feed, not an urban jungle. Using plants in your yard that hummers like (wild flowering currant, honeysuckle, fuschia, bee balm, nictonia for example) is a good start. Avoid using chemicals in your yard as well.

 

Ant Trap Nectar Guard Tips

Bees, wasps and ants also love a sugar solution as well. Avoid feeders that have yellow on them: bees and wasps like those. To keep ants out, an ant

moat is helpful. These are hung above your feeder and filled with water. Nectar guard tips will also keep out all three insects. These tips fit inside the feeding port holes and make the opening too small for anything bigger than an hummingbirds' tongue.


 

Some people find it hard to imagine just how long a hummer's tongue is or how it can reach the bottom of some feeders. Just take a look at this little Anna's tongue and you will see how they can reach into both flowers and feeders. Thanks to Dan Gleason for the great picture!

 
 

Everything deserves some fun every now and then. The hummingbird swing will give both you and your hummingbirds just that. Hang the swing near your hummingbird feeder and then sit back. Your feisty little friends will have a new spot to patrol their favourite feeders while they swing gently back and forth and you will (for once) be able to observe your birds easily

A Bit of Biology

Broad-billed HummingbirdHummingbirds differ from other birds in a variety of ways. They have weak feet and legs that are used more for perching than walking. They are most comfortable in the air, and are capable of hovering as well as flying up, down, forward and backward.

 

According to research, hummingbirds hold the record for possessing the fastest metabolism of any animal on the planet— they can consume up to twice their body weight in nectar every day. In order to accomplish this amazing feat, hummingbirds’ bills and tongues have evolved into incredibly efficient feeding tools.

 

Despite popular belief, hummingbirds do not suck up nectar with their bills. They actually lap it up with their tongues. While dipping their tongues into nectar sources, microscopic flaps open, allowing them to take up nectar at a rate of  12 times a second. You can see this remarkable tongue in action with our WBU® Hummingbird Feeder. It features a transparent bottom that allows you to see a hummingbird’s long tongue and rapid lapping action.

 

Hummingbird nests are made of plant down, glued together with spider webs and tree sap. These nests are usually located on pencil-sized limbs and are camouflaged with bits of lichen.

 

Female hummingbirds raise their young alone. Due to the males’ extremely aggressive territorial behavior, females establish a nesting area outside of the males’ feeding territory.