Yesterday, I checked on the hummingbird feeder frequently, occasionally thawing it in a pan of warm water, and chipping ice from the access holes with a metal skewer. After dark, I brought it indoors for the night, allowing it to thaw and return to room temperature.
At night, hummingbirds go into torpor, a state of dazed inactivity that greatly slows their metabolism, allowing them to rest. In my mind, I imagine minuscule yogi masters, Zen-ing out on tree branches in the dark.
Gingerly, at daybreak, I stepped out onto our ice and snow ladened deck to replace the hummingbird feeder. It’s 25 degrees Fahrenheit as I write this post. The snowfall has resumed.
David has the weekend off. I woke him inadvertently while replacing the feeder. Fortunately, he enjoys it as much as I do. He offered hand warmers he had stashed away, the kind people who are outside in the cold for long periods of time use inside their gloves. They work similarly to the heating packs I’ve placed on patients to warm and plump their veins before starting their IV’s. I welcomed his idea.
On the Internet, people are reporting they use Christmas houselights (not LED) to line a bowl, which, the feeder is then set on top of to keep the nectar warm. Alas, we’re low-tech here; there’s no outlet on our deck to plug a cord into. Luckily, our feeder is only 3 feet from the door, so checking on it is little trouble.
I brought the feeder back inside, and we placed the warmers on a piece of aluminum foil, and then attached the arrangement to the bottom of the feeder with a large rubber band. It feels secure.
I’m recording this experience in my nature journal.
All of this care and attention to these tiny birds reminds me of my days as a pediatric intensive care nurse, caring for infants and newborns; also childhood memories of “rescuing” baby birds, and small animals. It’s a part of my nature I cannot escape.
Here’s detailed information about maintaining a hummingbird feeder, and a recipe for hummingbird nectar. A word of caution from the article: “Too little sugar will not provide the necessary calories; too much sugar can harm the liver and kidneys of hummingbirds.”
Just like my tiny patients.