Some Chilliwack bird-watchers have devised wily and ingenious methods to keep their feeder sugar-water solutions from freezing. Some like birder Gord Gadsden tried out these hand-held nectar pods.

Some Chilliwack bird-watchers have devised wily and ingenious methods to keep their feeder sugar-water solutions from freezing. Some like birder Gord Gadsden tried out these hand-held nectar pods.

Anna’s hummingbirds of Chilliwack can survive an arctic blast

Some Chilliwack birders devised wily and ingenious methods to keep feeders from freezing, including hand-held nectar pods

The tiny Anna’s hummingbirds have become so accustomed overwintering in Chilliwack, they can be spotted flitting at the feeders — even in below freezing temperatures.

Turns out the hardy Anna’s variety do not migrate south but tend to stick around.

Gord Gadsden, founder of the Fraser Valley Birding website, said he estimates there are 10 Anna’s hummingbirds at his seven feeders in Chilliwack.

Since the cold front moved in earlier this month, it has required some creative feeder tending techniques.

Some Chilliwack bird-watchers have devised wily and ingenious methods to keep their feeder sugar-water solutions from freezing, including wrapping them in Christmas lights, shining a “trouble” light on them or swapping them out before they freeze.

Gadsden said he has to bring his own in every night, and gets up again at first light to put them back out.

As an avid birder he and his five kids make it a project.

“They are really engaged.”

They recently tried out some tiny ‘nectar pods’ for hand-feeding the hummers.

Katie (in pink) named this one ‘Zippy.’

They found the birds would buzz over to perch on their fingers and have a drink form a pod if they were hungry.

“The kids have been having fun helping them survive,” Gadsden said. “They’re so tiny when they sit on your finger. They’re not scared of us at all.”

They even get to know each tiny resplendent bird individually as they hover and then park to feed at their respective feeders — or the pods.

“They are fairly territorial and will try to monopolize them.”

They usually use 4:1 sugar to water ratio, or a little more sugar when it was below zero.

Many of these hardy little birds would succumb to the elements if people weren’t keeping their feeders going, and they come to rely on them.

So why are the Anna’s hummingbirds still here?

Gadsden looked into the Anna’s and found it’s more of a California hummingbird historically.

“They started to expand their range to the north, as exotic plants were flowering later in the season. Our increasingly mild winters has helped. Because conditions weren’t as cold in winter as they used to be, they’ve managed to survive here,” he said.

In terms of the Anna’s in B.C., they first showed up in Victoria, which is no surprise, as the mildest spot in Canada.

As the winters have been getting milder over the past decade, people started reporting sightings of Anna’s in Vancouver, and then in Abbotsford and Chilliwack, as they worked their way eastward.

People associate hummingbirds with the sweet nectar of summer flowers but they have learned to adapt to typically warmer West Coast winters.

At night they go into a hibernation-like torpor, when the heart rate and breathing drop. The metabolism slows.

“When morning comes and the air temperature rises, they will get out there and be looking for nectar.”

That’s why people are babysitting the precious little ones. They need nectar and lots of it in the cold.

“Some have said on the website they are trying heat lamps, various lights or hand warmers. There are lots of neat tricks on the bird discussion forum,” he said. “It’s nice to see people coming together and sharing ideas. It takes an investment in time to do this.

“We have to. They are super hungry now. They do eat insects when they’re around at 8 or 10 degrees Celsius but now it’s all about the feeders.”

They become dependent on it, so it requires dedicated feeding.

It’s been a big interest topic of interest.

“It’s very timely. They are a fascinating little bird.

“They don’t give up. They just keep on trucking.”


Just Posted

Raeya Evie Duncan was the 100th baby born at Chilliwack General Hospital for the month of May. She is seen here with her parents Alysha Williams and Andrew Duncan on June 12, 2021. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)
Baby boom in Chilliwack as record number of infants born at CGH in May

‘COVID babies are coming out,’ says dad of 100th baby born at Chilliwack General Hospital last month

Syringes prepared with Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine at a vaccination site in Long Beach, Calif., Friday, March 5, 2021. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)
Walk-ins welcome at upcoming G.W. Secondary vaccine clinic

Second consecutive Saturday Fraser Health has scheduled a same-day clinic in a Chilliwack school

Migrating sockeye in the Fraser River August 7, 2007. (Fisheries and Oceans Canada)
First Nations, commercial, and recreational harvesters join forces to save Fraser River fish

‘We have to work together to rebuild these stocks while there is still time,’ says delegate

Vancouver courthouse. (Photo: Tom Zytaruk)
Man loses bid to appeal conviction for 1999 rape at Abbotsford music festival

James Redden, 53, formerly of Nanaimo, was found guilty in 2019 following six-day trial

Dozens of demonstrators gathered in March at the Hope Station House, showing support for preserving the 1916 building. (Photo/Christian Ward)
New reports breathe life into efforts to save the Hope Station House

The documents were presented to District of Hope Council at a meeting June 14

People watch a car burn during a riot following game 7 of the NHL Stanley Cup final in downtown Vancouver, B.C., in this June 15, 2011 photo. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Geoff Howe
10 years ago: Where were you during the 2011 Vancouver Stanley Cup Riots?

Smashed-in storefronts, looting, garbage can fires and overturned cars some of the damage remembered today

(Black Press Media file)
Dirty money: Canadian currency the most germ-filled in the world, survey suggests

Canadian plastic currency was found to contain 209 bacterial cultures

(pixabay file shot)
B.C. ombudsperson labels youth confinement in jail ‘unsafe,’ calls for changes

Review states a maximum of 22 hours for youth, aged 12 from to 17, to be placed in solitary

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Eleonore Alamillo-Laberge, 6, reads a book in Ottawa on Monday, June 12, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Parents will need to fight ‘COVID learning slump’ over summer: B.C. literacy experts

Parents who play an active role in educating their children this summer can reverse the slump by nearly 80%, says Janet Mort

The border crossing on Highway 11 in Abbotsford heading south (file)
Western premiers call for clarity, timelines on international travel, reopening rules

Trudeau has called Thursday meeting, premiers say they expect to leave that meeting with a plan

The B.C. government’s vaccine booking website is busy processing second-dose appointments, with more than 76 per cent of adults having received a first dose. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
B.C.’s COVID-19 infections, hospitalizations stable for Tuesday

108 new confirmed cases, 139 in hospital, 39 in intensive care

A worker, at left, tends to a customer at a cosmetics shop amid the COVID-19 pandemic Thursday, May 20, 2021, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)
Half of cosmetics sold in Canada, U.S. contain toxic chemicals: study

Researchers found that 56% of foundations and eye products contain high levels of fluorine

Most Read