Tuesday, January 17, 2017 Hummer in the deep freeze!

Seward, Alaska

Sunrise 9:41 am, sunset 4:34 pm for a total day light of 6 hours and 37 minutes. Tomorrow will be 4 minutes and 7 seconds longer.

BRRRRRR! I know Fairbanks is enduring minus 40, but 8 above is cold for Seward. The cold was balanced psychologically with a gorgeous blue sky and brilliant sunshine, but the poser sun did not provide any apparent heat. Resurrection Bay released its heat in ghostly, swirling streams of steam, blown down the bay by the north wind: 17-28 mph with gusts to 39 mph. Brrrr!!

By 6 pm, the thermometer dropped to 4º. There it will remain, hovering just barely above ZERO until Friday when it is forecast to warm to 17º. By Monday, it may warm to freezing with snow.

Yesterday, I moved the heat tape on a town hummingbird feeder from the middle of the glass to the bottom just above the feeding ports in hopes that would help keep the ports from freezing. I also added a 7-watt bottom heated feeder with the nightlight encased in an insulated box with 2” thick foam walls and bottom.

This noon, I checked on the set-up and found the heat-taped portion liquid, but everything below it frozen including the yellow plastic flower feeding ports. The 7-watter was also frozen with barely any liquid.  As I replaced the 7-watter with a fresh, warm feeder, I just about fell over. The ANNA’S HUMMINGBIRD suddenly appeared and flew from one nearby spruce to another, watching me.

What??? I was just doing this on a merest thread of hope, not really believing he was still here as I haven’t seen him for six days. How did he survive this dreadfully cold and long night and morning?

I removed the hanging heat taped feeder to work on later. As I backed away, he moved in, hovering where his feeder should be. “Go down! Down!” I urged him, sending telepathic pleas. After a long minute of hovering all around the missing feeder location, he did go down where the 7-watter was sitting on the top platform of a stepladder, much lower than he expected.

Granted, it had an old wool sock covering the top of feeder, over a neoprene cover for insulation, and it was sitting in a colorfully taped insulated foam box. Very strange, I’m sure. But the perky yellow plastic flowers in the red rim convinced him to check it out. As my fingers froze, even though back in my mittens, he settled down to drink. What a relief!

My next solution is to combine the heat-taped feeder with an insulated cover on top of a 7-watter base, with a clamp lamp over the whole shebang. Unfortunately, I will have several days of cold to experiment with this before it “warms up” to freezing.

I called Ava to see if her Anna’s was there at the same time. She said she hadn’t seen him since about 10 this morning. According to my calculations, it’s a good 2.3 miles direct line between Ava’s and this feeder. Anna’s, like the Rufous and other migratory hummers, are extraordinary fliers, so it is possible that this is also Ava’s hummer.

Why would he fly from Ava’s paradise featuring three liquid hummingbird feeders with windbreaks, fresh flowers offering pollen, and crushed insect-rich chicken feed embedded in the frozen sugar water beneath the feeders? Why take the risk of flying in single digit temperatures to a location over 2 miles away that might, nor might not, have unfrozen sugar solution?

It’s possible as well, that there are indeed two Anna’s, and the town Anna’s is just incredibly tough to survive without much support. You can bet that I will be extra vigilant to attend to the feeders and at least give him a fighting chance to survive this brutal cold snap.

Happy Birding!
Carol Griswold
Seward Sporadic Bird Report Reporter

No comments:

Post a Comment