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Often times when we think of hummingbirds, we think of the spring and flowers, but did you know that there are certain species within the Pacific Coast that are active during the winter?
According to the Wildlife Rescue Association of BC, most hummingbird species will typically migrate south during the colder months to escape the harsh weather and seek out food.
However, the medium-sized Anna’s Hummingbirds stick around throughout the winter and with the recent cold snap across the province, these little ones are having a tough time says the rescue.
With their regular food sources of insects and nectar-bearing flowers being nearly impossible to come across, more often than not these birds are not reaching the appropriate intake of nutrition to maintain their metabolic rate, prompting them to become very thin and weak.
While they are able to preserve some of their energy by entering into a deep sleep-like state known as “Torpor,” the frigid temperatures and snow throughout the province have sent many birds into destress.
Oftentimes they will even pass out from the cold and end up falling into the snow, left there they can freeze to death.
This poor little guy. it's below -5 C here the last 2 days. I had to thaw my feeder every night. he fell off the feeder this morning. How can we help them weather this deep freeze? #hummingbird #Vancouver #coldweather #death #wildlife— Free Canadian Man (@thedirector13) January 14, 2020
Signs of distress include: Being on the ground, weak, confused, soiled, tongue sticking out, visible injuries, or unable to fly.
The Wildlife Rescue Association is prompting individuals to assist if they are able to by ensuring their hummingbird feeders are thawed and full if they have been kept out.
Feeders should be filled with sugar water, as these tiny birds need to eat half of their weight in sugar a day. A quick recipe can be found here.
I rescued this little dying hummingbird! Look at her now. Been defrosting the nectar every 2 hours. #VancouverSnowstorm #vancouversnowstorm2020 #hummingbird #snowday #annas #rufous #vancouver #winterbirds #birds pic.twitter.com/ePpei8hCDj— Alexandra Swistak (@Alex_Swistak) January 17, 2020
Your feeder can be thawed in a number of ways including by attaching a bowl of hot water to it, an incandescent lightbulb, taping hand warmers to it or by purchasing a feeder heater at an animal supply store.
If you come across a hummingbird in destress, here is what the rescue says you should do:
For more information on how to help a bird or any wild animal in destress, call the Wildlife Rescue Support Centre at 604.526.7275, option 1. Staff will share best practices for the safety and survival of the animal.