Snoco Minute

Feeding Hummingbirds in the Winter


The Anna's Hummingbirds, originating in California and Arizona, has spread to the Pacific Northwest. Unlike other hummingbirds that migrate to warmer climates, Anna’s Hummingbirds stick around all winter long. If you enjoy a good show at your window, try putting out a couple of hummingbird feeders. With nectar mixes available, and different styles of hummingbird feeders to suite your décor, it’s easy to attract these colorful little birds to your house.

Make sure to keep the recommended ratio of one part sugar to four parts water that the mixes offer. Recipes with a higher concentration of sugar do not necessarily benefit hummingbirds because it cannot travel up the grooves of their tongue easily, and may also damage kidneys and liver. Though increasing the sugar may help to prevent freezing, experts recommend staying consistent with a 1:4 mix. Make sure to not add honey, brown sugar, maple syrup etc. Pure sucrose is what hummingbirds need to survive.

Make sure to clean your hummingbird feeders at least once a week during cold weather, and more often during warmer weather. Mold growing on the feeder will kill hummingbirds. Anna’s Hummingbirds can be very territorial. If you notice squabbles at the feeder, add a second feeder to make room for everybody.

To keep your sucrose solution from freezing in the cold, try stringing Christmas lights around the feeder. The ambient heat can be just enough to keep things thawed. Another idea is to duct tape hand warmers to the jar. The Co-Op sells hand warmers that last up to 18 hours. Our Monroe location also has heated pipe tape, which will keep your feeders thawed and available for hummingbirds.

Don't stress too much about the welfare of the Hummingbirds. Generally, our winters are mild and the cold snaps are usually not that long. Hummingbirds are capable of reducing their body temperature at night and conserving their energy. They roost in trees and shrubs and do not use nest boxes or bird houses. They need a lot of sucrose (nectar) during the day to keep them going especially in the cold. In addition to nectar for fuel, hummingbirds will consume any insects they encounter which help them meet their protein, vitamin and mineral requirements. Insects can be found under bark and plants even during winter cold periods.

We have a wide variety of antique-glass inspired choices to keep your little birds fed all winter long.

Feeding Backyard Birds

  • We have lots of types of wild bird food, which will attract different birds

  • See the spreadsheet for the selection.

  • Check out our Birds of the Puget Sound Region: a favorite reference book to identify birds that you see around the area.

  • We have bird feeders for different types of seeds: nyjer seeds, mixed bird feed, mixed bird feed with suet holders, and more (none in stock right now in Snohomish, but we usually carry them); chicken feeders can work for wild birds also, but would need to be hung under cover.

  • Suet, being based in fat, is rich in calories, and packed with nutrients to help birds get through cold winters.

Feeding Deer in the Winter

  • Supplemental feeding of wild deer can improve survival and increase the population, but careless feeding can kill deer or create management problems.

  • Do not use corn or other fermentable carbohydrates as a primary emergency deer food.

  • Deer are browsers and have adapted to eating a wide variety of food sources, but their efficient stomachs require time to adapt to a new food source.

  • A hungry deer that has not eaten corn recently can die from bloat and acidosis within a day if it comes across a large pile of corn that it devours

  • More suitable deer feed would be formulas with a 16-20 percent protein such as Purina’s Deer Block (sold at both stores), Backyard Bistro (sold at both stores), or Antlermax Deer Blend (sold at the Monroe Location).

  • Goat feeds would be another suitable choice to provide deer emergency feed in the wintertime

  • Molasses poured over feed can help attract deer, but use sparingly. Too much sugar is bad for their health.

Feeding Squirrels in the Winter

  • Most people opt to feed squirrels peanuts and corn. Despite the fact that they can be good for birds, corn and peanuts fail to provide a real nutritional benefit for squirrels. In small amounts, however, peanuts and corn are fine as part of a more varied diet

  • It is recommended to feed squirrels a mixed nut feed like our Squirrel Trail Mix, or our Squirrel and Wildlife Blend

  • Those feeds designed for squirrels have more nutrition, and offer a more varied diet.

  • Offering mixed nuts, and corn on the cob to squirrels can help deter them from raiding bird feeders

Electrolytes for Livestock

  • Horses, Cows, Sheep, and Goats may need a bit of encouragement to drink enough water in the wintertime. Sometimes it’s just too cold to spend a lot of energy taking themselves to watering locations

  • Cows especially will hunker down in cold weather, and may not seek out water as much as they should.

  • It is recommended that any horses prone to colic or decreased water intake be supplemented with a tablespoon of salt or serving of electrolytes twice a day in cold weather. This is especially important at times when weather is changing drastically.

  • Add the salt or electrolytes to your animal’s feed to ensure they’ve consumed it to stimulate water intake.

  • If you do mix electrolytes with water, make sure to also have a second bucket of plain water available.

  • Sometimes water can get too cold for animals to drink. To ensure adequate water intake, water temperature should be 37 to 65 degrees. The rumen operates at 101-102 degrees; ingesting extremely cold water can decrease digestion until the water warms to body temperature.

  • We sell water heaters in a variety of different options to keep waters from freezing over: bucket heaters, drain plug heaters, and floating heaters.

  • Make sure you’re using extension cords that are safe for the outdoors when connecting your water heaters to a power source. We sell different lengths of Lockndry indoor/outdoor extension cords.

Seed Inventory

  • It’s time to take stock of what seeds you need this year. Some seeds will germinate even if they are a year or two old (Tomatoes, Kale, Chard, Spinach, Beets). Some do not do as well (Onions, Lettuces) and should be replaced with this year’s seeds.

  • All of our garden seeds are GMO free, and are produced in the Northwest. This assures that the plants they grow are well adapted to our unique maritime climate, and will produce successfully.

  • Try companion planting: some plants like to grow with other plants, and help each other:

    • Three sisters: corn, squash, and pole beans (corn provides support for the beans, and squash covers the ground to help control weeds, beans are nitrogen fixers and will improve soil quality)

    • Plant onions and garlic with strawberries (strawberries provide ground cover to control weeds, onions and garlic helpdeter pests that might eat strawberries

    • Plant a salsa garden: tomatoes, onions, cilantro

    • Plant an Italian cook’s garden: tomatoes, garlic, basil

  • Book: “Carrots love Tomatoes” to find more information about companion planting

  • Some seeds will start in surprisingly cool conditions, and can be planted as early as February. These plants prefer cooler condition to grow and are great for early Spring, and Fall production:

    • Peas

    • Radishes

    • Kale

    • Chard

    • Spinach

    • Lettuce

    • Carrots

    • Beets

    • Sunflowers

  • Use greenhouse trays to help keep soil evenly moist for germination. The clear plastic lid will also help trap warmth inside. Most seeds germinate when the soil temperature is between 68o and 86o


Start Tomatoes inside

  • Starting indoors will give you a head start on your tomatoes for the summer
  • We have heat mats to help get the soil warm enough to germinate

  • Try starting Basil plants with your tomatoes: they like to grow with each other

  • Wait until the danger of frost has passed before putting plants outside

  • Harden off plants by placing them outside in the shade for a week.

  • Putting them in direct sun after growing inside will burn their leaves.

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168 Lincoln Ave.

Snohomish, WA 98290

Tel: 360-568-2104


Store Hours:

Mon-Fri: 7 am - 6 pm

Sat: 8 am - 6 pm

Sun: 9 am - 5 pm


18422 Cascade View Dr.

Monroe, WA 98272

Tel: 360-794-4663

Store Hours:

Mon-Fri: 8 am - 6 pm

Sat: 8 am - 6 pm

Sun: 9 am - 5 pm