[Edited to add 2/21/20: You can now purchase a pre-made heated hummingbird feeder from: Hummers Heated Delight. Disclaimer: I have no affiliation with the maker of the feeders but this model has worked for me.]
Heating hummingbird feeders was a new thing for me after moving to Seattle. Here, Anna’s Hummingbirds stay through the winter, and although the cold months are relatively temperate, there are enough freezing mornings when nectar turns into slush or ice.
My first go-round with enabling the local hummingbirds came our first winter with Mr. Hummingway. I wrote about that here, A Bird Called Hummingway, and here, No Frozen Hummingbirds, Please.
In recent weeks, I’ve been greening our tiny patch of urban outdoors — our balcony “aerie” which overlooks trains, planes, automobiles and Bald Eagles. In the process, I put up a new hummingbird feeder for the local, wintering Anna’s, and within a few days, a local male and female found the feeder.
Try to overlook the distracting railing in this shot. I couldn’t get the right angle without spooking our new visitors. Note the raindrops on the bird’s back, typical of our recent weather patterns.
We don’t have an ideal setting to create a fancy feeder heater, like the one pictured in No Frozen Hummingbirds, this one here:
So, I devised what I hope will be a lukewarm solution: a plastic sleeve to hold a hand-warmer under the feeder. I recycled a plastic file folder and made part of it into a pocket which I then velcroed to the bottom of the feeder. It will hold a regular hand warmer or a small, reusable microwave heat pack. I’ll probably still be up in the pre-dawn hours on cold mornings to warm the nectar, but my hope is that the warmers under the feeder will keep the nectar from re-freezing until daytime temperatures take over.
If you’ve found something better that works in a limited space like ours, I’d love to know. Anything that helps the hummingbirds while letting me sleep a bit longer will be a *very* good thing.