[CT Birds] Hummingbirds in the northeast and cold snaps

David F Provencher david.f.provencher at dom.com
Mon Jan 24 11:48:35 EST 2011

Jayne Amico and I had a discussion about the events of the last few days regarding wintering Hummingbirds in the northeast. The bird that was wintering at the Dixon's, as well as another bird in CT, appear to have suffered from the extreme cold and wind chill freezing their bills closed after feeding. Observations of both birds physical situation and behavior seems to confirm this. It was only a remarkably prompt, intelligent, and decisive action on the part of Robert that saved the Sterling bird from perishing. This appears to be a newly observed peril for wintering Hummingbirds at feeders in the northeast, at least as far as Jayne and I are aware. There are a few ways to try and avoid this in future but it may not be easy as the birds often rapidly fly away from the protected area of the feeder into the harsh environment of the cold snap where the remaining feeding solution on the exterior of their bills may suddenly freeze and lock the bills closed. In any event, future attempts at wintering Hummingbirds should take into consideration this possibility during periods of severely depressed temperatures.

I think I would be remiss in if I didn't mention a couple of other things. One is that these birds would not have survived this long without the addition of protein to their diet. Jayne had worked with the Dixons as well, as others, to do this and as such she deserves credit for their chance to survive at all. Secondly, I have mixed feelings about the whole wintering Hummingbird thing, and I think it only fair to state that while I acknowledge Jayne's mastery at helping the hosts of these birds (indeed I'm in awe of her knowledge base and passion), I am not advocating either for or against the idea of trying to over-winter these marvelous birds. (Nor do I wish to start a discussion on CTBirds about it!) I absolutely do want to acknowledge the selfless generosity and remarkable efforts of people such as the Dixons and Jayne Amico, you guys help me keep a slim hope alive that our remarkably destructive species just might learn better ways.


Dave Provencher
Naturally New England<http://naturallynewengland.blogspot.com/>

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