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Hummingbird feeder

Bo Bolen shows the light used as the heating unit in his heated hummingbird feeder that he has created. (Mark Ylen/Democrat-Herald)

Albany man invents a heated feeder for hummingbirds

It could be a warmer winter for Northwest hummingbirds thanks to Bo Bolen.

Bolen of Albany has designed a hummingbird feeder that includes a heating element to keep the fluttering backyard visitors’ feeding stations safe from frost and ice.

Marketed as Hummers Heated Delight, the feeder has been Minnesota-winter-tested, according to Bolen who took his invention to his native state to make sure it could withstand some pretty severe cold.

“We tested it to 1 degree above zero there and it held up fine,” said Bolen, 74, who for 30 years has been selling an anchor release system he invented for boaters.

His anchor system came from his passion for fishing. The hummingbird feeder stems from a love of the tiny birds. It keeps them coming to the feeder year-round.

The bulk of the birds that visit Oregon yards at least beyond the summer months are Anna’s Hummingbirds. Bolen wanted to make their lives a little easier.

It’s a simple enough system. He uses a 7-watt bulb as a heat source.

“It’s just a night light bulb,” said his wife Sharon Bolen, who helps him collect orders and ready the product for shipping.

Bolen said the little light turned out to be the ideal fit for the feeders which he gets exclusively from First Nature, an Indiana company that specializes feeders and water features for birds.

He drilled a hole in a salsa dish to fit the light fixture through and then fastens it to the bottom of the feeder with four stainless steel springs. The bulbs include a six-foot cord he buys locally.

“It takes me about 10 or 15 minutes to put together,” Bolen said. “They just pull off in the summer and the feeder is fine.”

He said he tried using metal and funnels to encase the bulb but the salsa dish worked best.

It took Bolen about two years to perfect his idea and test it thoroughly including the trip to Minnesota. They are designed to hang under a porch or eaves and hook into an outside outlet.

“The switch on the cord isn’t waterproof,” Bolen said. “And don’t put them in the dishwasher.”

He said he has been using the feeder for more than a year and birds show up about every 15 or 20 minutes year-round.

“I hook it up at night in late fall and winter and it keeps the feeding liquid from freezing. It also provides a really nice red glow when it’s dark,” Bolen said.

The hummingbirds are often ready to feed early in the morning. Bolen believes the glow from the liquid due to his heating element draws them in and the warm nectar keeps them there.

He began marketing his feeders in February. Sales have stretched throughout the west and into Canada. He keeps a supply on hand to fill orders as they come in.

“I’ve loved hummingbirds forever,” he said. “They are amazing to watch.”

Bolen came from Minnesota to Oregon on a hunting trip in 1962 and never left.

His feeders come in 16-and-32-ounce sizes and sell for $19.95 and $25.95. Orders can be made on his website at www.hummersheateddelight.com or by phone at 541-928-8541.

Steve Lathrop is the business reporter for the Albany Democrat-Herald. He can be reached at 541-812-6076 or by email at steve.lathrop@lee.net.

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