Hummingbirds fascinate us with their brilliant colors and high-speed antics, but have you ever wondered where they go when the sun sets and darkness falls? It turns out these amazing little creatures have some clever tricks up their sleeves to save energy and survive the cold.
In this article, I’ll be answering all your hummingbird sleep questions about:
- When hummingbirds sleep
- How hummingbirds sleep
- Where hummingbirds sleep
So let’s get started!
Why Is Hummingbird Sleep So Interesting?
Hummingbirds live life in the fast lane. They flap their wings about 50 times in a second while in flight, and their tiny hearts beat at a rate of over 1000 beats every minute. Hummingbirds are also the smallest birds on the planet, with one species, the Bee Hummingbird, weighing just 2 grams!
With such a small body and such high energy demands, hummingbirds need an almost constant supply of food to maintain their metabolism and keep warm. Their busy little bodies also need some rest after all the day’s activity. Hummers have a problem though, they are not able to lay down long-lasting fat reserves, and they use energy from their food really quickly after eating it.
This creates quite a predicament when the birds aren’t able to forage for food resources in the dark and run the risk of literally starving to death from burning up all their energy to stay warm. When you look at it this way, hummingbird sleep is a little more interesting than many people realize, so let’s take a look at some of your most popular questions and go through some of the facts!
When Do Hummingbirds Sleep
If you’ve never seen hummingbirds asleep, you’re probably wondering when this happens. Read on for the answers!
Do Hummingbirds sleep at night?
Yes, hummingbirds sleep during the night. Hummingbirds are diurnal animals, so they are active during the day when visibility is good. Sleeping after dark makes sense because hummingbirds rely on sight to find their food and to fly with the incredible accuracy that they need to feed.
Do Hummingbirds Sleep Every Night?
Yes, hummingbirds must sleep every night to rest. Sometimes hummingbirds will also sleep during the day. Some people have even found hummingbirds hanging upside down, fast asleep at their backyard hummingbird feeders in broad daylight!
How long does a hummingbird sleep?
Hummingbirds sleep all night to save energy because they are unable to feed in the dark. They may also sleep for varying periods during the day if necessary.
How Do Hummingbirds Sleep
Hummingbirds can sleep normally, but when the weather is cold, or they are low on energy, this would cause exhaustion and be too dangerous.
To solve this problem, their clever solution is to simply allow themselves to cool off, and their heart and breathing rate to slow down so that they need less energy. In this state, their body temperature drops by more than half, and their heart rate drops from over 1000 beats per minute to as little as 50. Incredible!
So how do they do it? The process is known as torpor, and it is similar to hibernation, only it is used for much shorter periods of time. Going in and out of torpor takes some time, and it can take half an hour for the tiny birds to ‘warm up’ again.
We, humans, are homeotherms, which means we maintain a stable body temperature. If the human body temperature drops by just a few degrees below our normal temperature, we cannot survive. Hummingbirds are also able to maintain a stable body temperature when they are awake, the weather is warm, and there’s plenty to eat.
To save energy, however, these tiny birds have the amazing ability to act more like poikilotherms (cold-blooded) such as reptiles. Since hummingbirds are not strictly homeotherms or poikilotherms, scientists describe them more accurately as heterotherms.
Do hummingbirds go into torpor every night?
Not necessarily. A scientific study found that hummingbirds only go into torpor when necessary. This is not only related to the temperature outside. Other possible reasons for them to go into this state include times when the birds are not able to find enough food before sunset due to bad weather for example. Another more recent study found that temperature is a less important trigger for torpor and that hummingbirds regularly use this technique to save energy even in warm weather and climates.
Do hummingbirds sleep upside down?
Yes, hummingbirds have been found sleeping upside down and there’s some great footage of this behavior out on the web. This isn’t always the case though and hummingbirds will also perch upright.
Do hummingbirds sleep together at night?
Hummingbirds sleep alone at night. You may have seen photos of the similar-looking Little Bee-eaters that roost together, but they are an African bird that is not related to hummingbirds.
Where Hummingbirds Sleep
Not many people can say they’ve ever seen a sleeping hummingbird. Birds, like almost all animals, are vulnerable to attack by predators while they’re fast asleep. These tiny birds have many predators, including snakes, small owls, large spiders, and even insects like praying mantises!
It makes sense then that they would prefer not to be found, but where do they go? Read on for the answers to this question.
Where Do Hummingbirds Go At Night Time?
Hummingbirds usually perch within a bush or tree at night, where they sleep while holding onto a twig or thin branch. Staying off the ground protects them from walking and crawling predators, while a densely vegetated spot also keeps them out of sight. The perfect spot will also provide great shelter from bad weather.
Where Do Hummingbirds Sleep In The Winter?
Most North American hummingbirds head south for the winter, where the weather is warm, and there’s plenty of flowers and bugs for them to feed on. Increasingly, some hummers are choosing to stick around for the winter months, as humans provide them with a steady supply of nectar throughout the year, and gardeners plant trees, shrubs, and other plants that flower continuously.
Where Do Hummingbirds Sleep When It Rains?
Hummingbirds look for sheltered spots to sleep where they are protected from the elements. This is especially important in rainy and stormy weather when the birds will seek a wind-sheltered area with a dense canopy above their heads to keep them dry and warm.
Do Hummingbirds Sleep In A Nest?
No, hummingbirds do not normally sleep in nests. Hummingbird nests are used only for incubating eggs and raising the chicks. During this time the mother will sleep in the nest while keeping the eggs warm though.
Now that you know all about how hummingbirds sleep, you can appreciate these joyful birds even more. As if hummingbirds weren’t fascinating enough, the way these tiny creatures overcome everyday environmental challenges is quite remarkable. The next time you’re watching a few hummers darting around your bird feeders on a late afternoon, don’t forget to wish them a good night!