Seeing hummingbirds in our garden is always a pleasant experience as they are fascinating and unique creatures. Sadly, these enchanting creatures are rarely seen at night. So what do hummingbirds do at night?
Hummingbirds sleep at night. Hummingbirds are diurnal, which means they are active during the day and rest at night. About 30 minutes before sunset, hummingbirds look for a place to sleep. However, some hummingbirds may feed into the night if there is artificial lighting.
Join us as we explore the life of the hummingbird at night. Learn if they eat at night, how they sleep, and what you should do with your hummingbird feeder at night.
In this Guide:
What Do Hummingbirds Do At Night?
In the bird world, hummingbirds are among the hardest-working species. These small birds are constantly on the move, visiting flower to flower to feed on their sweet nectar. As you can imagine, these ’nectar runs’ use a lot of energy; add to the fact that their wings move seemingly at the speed of light, and you have a recipe for killer energy expenditure.
To recover from the day’s hard labor, hummingbirds have to rest. The question is, ‘when’? Hummingbirds are diurnal, meaning they are active during the day and sleep at night. About 30 minutes before sunset, Hummingbirds will look for a safe and sheltered place to sleep for the night.
They prefer to be nestled deep within the greenery of the trees, where the large leaves can cover them from the elements and predators. Once they find a suitable place, they will attach their feet to a branch and sleep. Sometimes hummingbirds will sleep upside down from their branches - like bats!
Unlike other birds, hummingbirds don’t typically rest in nests unless for special occasions. If the hummingbird has eggs or young chicks without feathers, they will rest in the nest to help keep their babies warm.
How Do Hummingbirds Sleep At Night?
When a hummingbird has found a place to rest for the night, it will go into a state of torpor. Torpor is similar to mini hibernation. Essentially, in a state of torpor, the hummingbird will reduce the amount of energy it uses during sleep by 85%. It does this by decreasing body functions such as heart rate, metabolism, and temperature.
Hummingbirds in a state of torpor can appear dead, especially when hanging upside down from a branch. In addition, these birds aren’t likely to respond to touch while in this state. So if you happen to see a hummingbird on a branch that seems lifeless, rest assured, they are not dead.
They are just in an extremely deep sleep. It usually takes 20-30 minutes for them to awaken from torpor. Hummingbirds can sleep between 8-12 hours, but the average amount of sleep for hummingbirds is 12 hours (from dusk until dawn).
Do Hummingbirds Feed At Night?
Typically, when it is time for hummingbirds to sleep, they sleep, which means not waking up in the middle of the night for a midnight snack. However, there are some exceptions to the rule. For example, you may find some hummingbirds feeding well into the night.
They may do this if they are exposed to artificial light and if the weather is warm enough for them to do so. But don’t be fooled. There are also hummingbird moths which many people routinely mistake for hummingbirds.
This is because the hummingbird moth’s size, color, and movement resemble that of a hummingbird. So if you spot one of these moths at night, it is no wonder these moths fool even the best of us. The feeding hours for Hummingbirds are during the day.
Hummingbirds feed every 10-15 minutes and visit around 1000-2000 flowers per day. Because of their constant energy expenditure, they have to eat constantly, leading some to eat up to two times their body weight in nectar.
Do Hummingbirds Fly At Night?
Hummingbirds generally do not fly at night. However, they may fly at night if looking for food when exposed to artificial light or if they are migrating. Not all species of hummingbirds migrate, but those that do can travel long distances. When migrating, hummingbirds will fly by day and rest at night.
However, sometimes it is physically impossible for the hummingbirds to do so. For instance, Ruby-throated Hummingbirds fly over the Gulf of Mexico during their migration. When night falls, there is no place to land, so they will continue flying throughout the night until they reach land.
Ruby-throated Hummingbirds are quite resilient for their small size and can fly up to 600 miles non-stop. Unlike other birds, hummingbirds do not migrate in flocks but instead migrate individually, with the males leaving first.
The hummingbirds will then time their return according to location. Hummingbirds will return as early as February in the southern part of the US. Birds that live inland, to the West or North-East, will time their return to coincide with the flowering of the plants.
Should I Bring Hummingbird Feeder In At Night?
Hummingbird feeders are perfectly suited to be left outside. However, it is best to bring the feeders indoors on colder nights to prevent freezing. When doing so, be sure to place the feeder back outside early before dawn, as hummingbirds like to feed in the early hours of the morning.
So, be prepared to get an early morning start and try to resist the snooze button. You can also consider investing in more than one feeder. This way, you can ensure there is always a liquid supply of nectar that you can rotate indoors and out.
At night, hummingbirds will get a good night’s sleep. They are known to enter a state of torpor and appear so still that you may think they are dead. It takes the hummingbird about 20 -30 minutes to wake up from a torpor state. On special occasions, hummingbirds will fly at night.
If flying over the Gulf of Mexico, these birds will fly throughout the night. They may even feed at night if there is artificial lighting. Overall, the hummingbird has a predictable nighttime routine.