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Do Hummingbird Tongues Get Stuck in Feeders?

Do Hummingbird Tongues Get Stuck in Feeders?

Feeders are built to help hummingbirds drink nectar comfortably. You might have seen that the feeders have small flower-like suckers with a hole to drink the sugar water. Sometimes, owners fear that a hummingbird can get its tongue stuck in feeders. Is it true? Let’s investigate in the following article. 

Do Hummingbird Tongues Get Stuck in Feeders?

Hummingbirds use their tongue to drink nectar from feeders. Their tongues are divided into two tube-like structures that suck sugar water with capillary action. These birds approach feeders and find the suckers through which they can get the sugar water. 

So, they stick their tongues out and put them into the feeder holes to suck out nectar. However, these events can trigger mishaps.

Hummingbirds experience their tongue sticking into the feeder when sucking out nectar from the hole. It happens more prominently during winters. 

You already know that hummingbird tongues sticking into the feeders is not a myth. Now, you might want to know more about their tongues sticking into the feeders. 

Don’t worry; we will examine more points about the reason behind hummingbird tongues sticking into the feeders and the subsequent measures you can take. 

Let’s dive into more details. 

How do hummingbird tongues get stuck in feeders? 

Hummingbirds have learned to efficiently use their tongues to drink nectar. But, their tongues can get stuck in artificial feeders due to slight negligence. You might be thinking how such events occur. Below you will get the reasons behind hummingbird tongues getting stuck in feeders and some of the immediate cures. 

Icy cold sugar water

In cold regions, hummingbird food can become frozen inside the feeders. Owners hang feeders with fresh food in the morning and get the food frozen in half an hour. Hummingbirds are hungry in the early hours. They rush to the feeders and stick their tongue into the feeder to drink nectar. However, since the sugar water is frozen inside, their tongues might get stuck on the ice. Consequently, they can neither drink nectar nor get themselves out of the feeder. 

Poorly designed feeders

Some feeders are not the best ones for hummingbirds. They have significant defects like small feeder holes or complicated turns inside the sucker. Many times, the hungry hummers get their tongues stuck into the feeders due to these issues. 

What to do when a hummingbird’s tongue is stuck into a feeder? 

Do you have a hummingbird with its tongue stuck into the feeder? You have arrived at the best place! Here you will know more about the measures you can take if you find such a helpless bird. 

Heat the sugar water

If you find a hummingbird with its tongue stuck into the feeder in winters, it’s likely due to the underlying icy sugar water. Their tongues won’t come off until the nectar reaches normal temperature and the ice melts. So, the best thing to do is to heat the sugar water by placing a lamp under the feeder till the ice becomes liquid again. You will see that the hummingbird retraces its tongue soon afterward. However, it might have been traumatized. So, it will be better to let it rest for a while, drink the molten sugar water, and fly away. 

Detangle the tongue gently

If you think that the hummer has got its tongue rolled inside the feeder, it’s time to be extra careful. You might have to lift the lid to expose its stuck tongue from within. Once you know what has happened, you can detangle its tongue gently without hurting it. Soon, the hummer will be alright and ready for a flight. Also, it will be better if you discard the feeder as it has defects. 

Seek a vet

If the case seems more complicated than the above and the hummingbird has a wounded tongue, you can approach a veterinary clinic to get an expert measure for the poor bird. They can save its life with minimal complications.

So, you have an idea of why hummingbird tongues get stuck into the feeders so frequently. Also, you have walked through the measures you can take when you find such a helpless hummer. 

Moving on, let’s get into the details of avoiding hummingbird tongues getting stuck in feeders. 

How to avoid getting hummingbird tongues stuck in feeders? 

Hummingbirds getting their tongues stuck in feeders is not a pleasing sight. So, can you take measures to avoid their tongues getting stuck in feeders? Yes, you can! Some of the steps are:

Place a heat lamp

Giving ice cold sugar water to hummingbirds is an invitation for their tongues to get stuck onto the ice. You can avoid getting the food frozen by placing a heat lamp underneath the feeder. It will keep the sugar water in a liquid state for the hummers to drink easily. 

Use a light bulb

If you find placing a heat lamp underneath the feeder complex, you can install a high-wattage light bulb above the feeder. It will keep their food sufficiently warm. 

Use bubble wraps

Another thing to do to avoid the sugar water from freezing is to provide sufficient insulation. You can use bubble wraps to cover the feeder to keep the temperature of the content higher than the surroundings. 

Use thermocol sheets

Apart from bubble wraps, you can use thermocol sheets to shield their feeder and food from the exterior temperature. It will help you avoid their tongues from sticking onto cold nectar. 

Place an open bowl

As you know, hummingbird feeders can be defective. Their structures can promote the bird’s tongue to get stuck in an unpleasant way. So, you can avoid these situations by eliminating the fancy feeders. You can use an open bowl to feed the hummingbirds safely. 


Hummingbirds have delicate tongues. Their tongues can easily stick into the feeders and they might hurt themselves in an attempt to fly away. Many times, these birds get traumatized and restless when such events happen to them. It can hurt the hummers and wound their tongues severely. 

So, you should always be careful to avoid their tongues from sticking into the hummingbird feeders. It will keep your birds happy and your garden chirpy at all times.