'There have been many reports of hummingbirds getting their tongue stuck to the ice'

'There have been many reports of hummingbirds getting their tongue stuck to the ice' »Play Video
Heat lamps and bubble wrap can help keep hummingbird feeders from freezing. Be careful not to create a fire hazard, however.

SPRINGFIELD, Ore. - While his neighbors are hanging up Christmas lights, Tim Thoren is decorating his house with heat lamps.

"That's how we're getting into the holiday spirit here at the Thoren-Rice household," he said.

Most hummingbirds migrate for the winter, but the Anna's hummingbird sticks around town, visitng backyards and hummingbird feeders.

"They are like my children at this point," Thoren said.

But the bitter cold now has the birds fighting for their lives as prolonged freezing weather turns the nectar in feeders into ice.

"They try to eat off this and they can't, so they either go somewhere else or starve," he said.

Thoren said people are hanging their hummingbird feeders in the morning only for the feed to freeze 20 minutes later.

That brings another hazard to the birds.

"There have been many reports of hummingbirds getting their tongue stuck to the ice," Thoren said.

He has put out 11 feeders with heat lamps to prevent the nectar from freezing.

It's working.

"When they wake up, they want to eat first thing, and when they get here they're often shivering and they just eat and eat and by afternoon they all are getting pretty fiesty and are ready for battle," Thoren said.

Heat lamps aren't the only way to keep hummingbird food from freezing.

"Even a light on a hook can warm it enough to make sure they get some food," he said.

Another trick: bubble wrap as insulation.

"Bubble wrap will help with a couple degrees," Thoren said. "It keeps an air pocket between the cold air and the feeder."

He said feeding the birds is a commitment. No one feeder should be out longer than an hour or two.