Bird Question: Hummingbirds in Winter

DECEMBER 11, 2011:

We always have several hummingbird feeders each season. This year after I took down our feeders, we saw a visitor in late November. It was enjoying my pansies, but stuck around. I put out a feeder because it was so cold. Now we have 2 or 3 in December. Does that happen often?



I’m delighted to hear that you have a number of our smallest guests feeding at your feeder at this time of year. It is a wonder of nature just how those little guys are designed to withstand even the harshest of what mother nature has to give them. You shouldn’t be concerned about their welfare, as they cope in all kinds of conditions. We are fortunate here in Central Texas to have hummers all year round. The most common winter guest is the Rufous, but we also have sightings of Broad-tailed and Calliope with the very occasional Anna’s.

Seeing numerous birds at one time at one feeder is typically unusual in the breeding season, but not so much at this time of year, as they are conserving their energies just to stay warm and survive to the next day. And don’t be concerned if you leave for a time and do not refill the feeders. If they need to move, they could be in the Valley in a half a day! If you keep the feeders full and going, you’ll be rewarded for years to come.

Several years ago when I lived in Oakhill I had a Rufous that came to my feeder year after year until I moved. I knew it was the same bird as when it first returned it searched for the feeder where it had been located the winter before. Upon moving the feeder to where it had been the year prior, they bird feed all winter long and it perched and slept from the exact same branch in an Afgan pine. We had the same routine for the next 5 years and I was heartbroken when I had to move but I knew that “Rufie” would move on as well.

-Charles (Guest Bird Expert)