With frosty weather coming in I needed to make a hummingbird feeder heater to stop the sugar water from freezing. There are Anna’s hummingbirds that over-winter in Vancouver.
The birds have amazing adaptations to survive cold weather but unusually cold times are hard on them.
Commercial feeder heaters are expensive so I made one with a few things on hand. This setup had to be easy to bring inside and clean as nectar needs to be replaced no later than once a week (every few days if possible). It also had to be easy to stick outside on my window which is 4 stories up.
Instructions: (Time to make: 1 hour)
- Use a utility knife to cut a hole in the bottom of the container slightly smaller than with of fixture and insert fixture and screw into place with retaining ring.
- Make holes in sides for elastic
- Thread 3d printed hooks on to elastic
- Put feeder on top, hook on heater and tighten elastic until a good seal is made between the feeder and the heater
- Tie off elastic so as not to melt or touch lightbulb (I made my knots on the outside)
- Screw in lightbulb
- Hang the whole thing outside
- Leave plugged in 24 hours a day (I ran the cable inside to an outlet through a barely-opened window).
Future ideas for next iterations:
- run of home assistant on my internet of things
- an in-feeder thermostat or temperature sensor
Other Fun Things:
This guy made a set up to weigh each hummingbird when it lands on the perch!
If you’d like to make a feeder there are lots of 3d printing designs out there.
I own this hummingbird feeder.
If you need help 3d printing some hooks why not print some at VHS?
Have questions or need help making your own feeder heater?
Ask away below.
I am amazed that some species of hummingbird migrate from BC to Mexico each year.
Also loons migrate from the BC Interior down south to California each year. They cannot “take off” from dry land, only lakes, so when they stop for a rest it must be on water of they cannot get airborne again. Mother nature is amazing
Thanks @SteveRoy! It’s been fun watching the hummingbirds. I agree - nature is totally amazing! I did not know that about loons!
Neat! Any idea how to keep ants out?
You can make or buy an ant moat!
Just bumping this as chilly times are coming. It’s a good time to put out a heated hummingbird feeder. I was also talking to a couple of people at the space last night who also have heated feeder setups including one that uses a hacked handwamer. If you have a heated hummingbird setup, please post a photo on this thread.
Update! The diy hummingbird feeder heater is working well. Even at - 9 degrees the 7.5 watt light bulb kept the sugar solution from freezing. We are getting a lot of Anna’s hummingbirds every day. On cold days they even hang out on the feeder at night.
Here’s some video of a hummingbird on the feeder.
Janet, are you able to setup a motion detection camera on your feeder? I’ve been talking with a researcher and they are looking for photographic evidence of hummingbirds feeding at night. There is sufficient anecdotal evidence that they have launched a research project in to it and are looking for people who have hummingbird feeders with regular visitors that are able to record video at night.
I have exactly the same feeder, I’m going to build that heater. Thanks!
Hey @hectorh! That is so cool! Thanks for that. I will see if I can set something up to shoot motion activated video! Fantastic to hear some people are studying the night feeding and I would ove to contribute to that. Great you’re making a heater. Looking forward to seeing what you get up to with it.
Edit: I should add those little round 7.5watt bulbs with a standard base are at london drugs also if you’re looking for them. When it got really cold I was worried about the solution freezing and thought I might try a 25 or 40 watt applicance bulb but the 7.5watt one did the job nicely.
A trailcam should work. There will be a little infared from the LED’s, but they pickup motion at night
I was thinking an old android phone with the right apps might do the trick. It’s never super dark down here in the west end.
You will have to have the camera outside or you will just get reflections.
I have a trail cam you are welcome to borrow. You need something close by to strap it to.
Thanks for that offer Steve! I have a couple of cameras here I think will work. Will dig around and see what I can set up.
After a few months and recent snow the hummingbird feeder heater is still going strong. I had a lot of hummingbirds this morning.
So ghetto but clearly this works. Has been in use for 3 years now (in Vancouver, in a row, for anyone still doubting climate change). The lamp fixture is an old and cheap adjustable thingy intended for studio lighting and the rest is janky screws on a random block of wood with a random L bracket, plus a couple of rubber washers to dampen any vibrations from… the building, I guess? Whole thing is plugged in to an exterior smart socket I usually use for the deck lighting. Works a charm! (I also tested the temperature with a good thermometer, it reads about 7°C warmer than ambient on the leftmost hook, about 10-15cm distant)
Just bumping this project as it’s almost hummingbird heater time again. Maybe this year I will 3D print one.