The Inspiration Behind the Hummer Hearth Hummingbird Feeder Heater
About 20 years ago, I noticed we had hummingbirds all year long outside our home near Seattle, Washington. It was a pleasant surprise as I am quite fond of them. At the same time, I began worrying about how to keep the hummingbird nectar from freezing during the winter, which I knew would happen.
Being a compulsive tinkerer, I tried many methods others use to keep hummingbird feeders from freezing during winter. Heat lamps were awkward; I had to be careful not to get the feeder so hot that the hummers could not land on it. Plus, heat lamps use much more electricity than is needed, are not safe to use outdoors, and my neighbor did not like the glare. Christmas lights worked to a point, but the feeder would freeze if it was cold and windy. Plumbing heat tapes ran too hot and were tough to rig to the heater. Heating pads were too big, awkward, and not safe for outdoors. Putting a sock or insulating the feeder just delayed when the nectar would freeze.
A New Approach to Heating Hummingbird Feeders
I was compelled to develop a new approach. I zeroed in on putting the heat right against the bottom of the feeder using a low-wattage light bulb that would provide just enough heat. A tin can wired to the bottom of the feeder with a light bulb jury-rigged in place worked well for five years.
In 2016, I got a 3D printer for work-related projects and began experimenting with printing a refined, plastic version of my hummingbird feeder heater. I printed a few for myself and friends; then, one day, I walked into a wild bird store with one. I am thankful for Paul at the Wild Birds Unlimited in Covington – clever man. And I am grateful to Diane at the Redmond Wild Birds Unlimited store for coming up with the name, something I am not good at.
The first year we sold a few hundred Hummer Hearths – the 3D printer took more than an hour to make one Hummer Hearth, and I did need some sleep. The following year we started with three 3D printers and had five printers by year’s end. With help from family and friends, we kept up with orders, but just barely. In 2019, we made a substantial investment in injection molds. This allowed us to improve the Hummer Hearth in ways we could not with the 3D printers.
My thanks go out to current and future customers looking out for our little friends.
We hope the Hummer Hearth makes it easier for you to feed your hummers all year round.
The eighth version of the feeder heater during testing
Five 3-D printers making nectar heaters.