What do hummingbirds eat in the winter in the Pacific Northwest?

Answered by Jeremy Urbaniak

Hummingbirds in the winter in the Pacific Northwest have a variety of food sources to sustain them during the colder months. While their main diet consists of nectar from flowers during the summer, they have to find alternative sources of food when flowers are scarce. In the winter, hummingbirds primarily rely on insects and spiders for their sustenance.

One of the main ways hummingbirds obtain insects is by hawking. They have an impressive aerial agility, allowing them to catch flying insects mid-air. They will dart and hover, using their long beaks to snatch up insects such as flies, gnats, and mosquitoes. It’s fascinating to watch their quick movements as they snatch these tiny creatures from the air.

Another technique hummingbirds employ is gleaning. They will carefully inspect leaves and branches for tree hoppers and other small insects. With their sharp beaks, they can pluck these insects off the vegetation, providing a valuable source of protein.

Hummingbirds are also known to probe crevices in search of spiders. They use their slender bills to reach into small crevices and extract spiders, which are a nutritious and easily accessible food source. It’s impressive to witness their precision and agility as they search for hidden spiders.

Additionally, hummingbirds are opportunistic feeders and will steal captured insects from spider webs. They take advantage of the spiders’ hard work by snatching up the trapped insects, saving themselves the effort of catching them. This behavior showcases their resourcefulness and adaptability.

In some cases, hummingbirds may also feed on tree sap to supplement their diet. They are known to pluck trapped insects from the sticky sap, providing them with an additional food source. This behavior is especially observed when flower nectar is scarce.

It’s important to note that hummingbirds have excellent memory and spatial awareness. They remember the locations of reliable food sources, such as spider webs and sap wells, creating a reliable winter foraging strategy. They can efficiently navigate their surroundings, finding the hidden insects and spiders that await them.

While the specific diet of hummingbirds in the winter in the Pacific Northwest may vary depending on the exact location and availability of food sources, their ability to find and extract insects and spiders is a testament to their remarkable adaptations. These tiny birds have evolved to survive in diverse environments, showcasing their resilience and resourcefulness.

Hummingbirds in the winter in the Pacific Northwest primarily rely on insects and spiders for their nutrition. They employ various hunting techniques such as hawking, gleaning, probing, and stealing insects from spider webs. They are also known to feed on tree sap when available. Their ability to locate and extract these food sources is a testament to their adaptability and survival skills.