There’s a hummingbird at my feeder in the dead of winter. Will he be okay?

January 15, 2015
An Anna An Anna's Hummingbird sits out a winter storm in Washington state. Hummingbirds are tough little birds that can withstand cold temperatures as long as there is food available. Photo by Tom Colegrove via Birdshare.
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Hummingbirds are remarkably tolerant of cold weather, so it’s likely your bird will be fine if it can continue to find food. Individuals of a few hummingbird species, most often Rufous but also some Allen’s, Anna’s, and others, have been wintering further north in recent years. Reports of Rufous Hummingbird during the winters of 2012—2015 include Michigan, upstate New York, Wisconsin, Massachusetts and Indiana! Anna’s Hummingbird regularly winters as far north as British Columbia, and have even been spotted in Alaska. You can get an idea of where hummingbirds have been found in winter by looking at maps from eBird, like this one of Rufous Hummingbird during the winters from 2012—2015.

For reasons still not well understood, more and more of these birds are surviving the entire season even in more northerly areas.

Birds of all species, whether rarities or right in the heart of their wintering range, do die over winter, but as long as they have reliable food sources they have a reasonable chance of surviving well into the season. Some have even returned to the same feeders from one winter to the next.

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