Hummingbirds are impossible not to love. They are adorable, and most of them are absolutely tiny. Because of their size and magical colors, they are incredibly popular birds.
Many people are curious about them for one reason or another, and I can’t blame them.
Something that has always amazed me about these tiny birds is their lifespan. When you learn more about it, I guarantee that you will be wowed, too.
These miniature birds have a lifespan that, while short, isn’t nearly as short as you might expect it to be due to their size. If you want to find out more, keep reading!
How Long Do Hummingbirds Live?
The average lifespan for a hummingbird is between 3–5 years.
However, this number can greatly vary depending on the hummingbird species. Generally, the larger species, such as the giant hummingbird, will live longer than the smallest, like the bee hummingbird.
While 3–5 years might not seem like a long time to you or me, this is actually an amazing feat for these animals! This is because of their incredible metabolism.
Most animals with such extreme metabolisms will have an ever shorter lifespan. So, this blink-of-an-eye life is an accomplishment on its own.
Longest And Shortest Lifespans
As I mentioned above, the larger hummingbirds will typically live longer than the smaller ones. This is the case for most things in the animal kingdom, so don’t worry!
There are some interesting world records to look at when considering the lifespans of hummingbirds, so let’s take a look:
- Oldest ever hummingbird – this title is held by a female Broad-tailed Hummingbird in 1987. She was captured and marked an adult in 1976, then recaptured a decade later, so she had to be at least 12 years old!
- Oldest ever Ruby-throated Hummingbird – this banded bird was 6 years and 11 months old when it was found.
- Oldest ever Rufous Hummingbird – this banded bird was 8 years and 1 month old when it was found.
- Impressive record #1 – a female Black-chinned Hummingbird was 10 years and 1 month old.
- Impressive record #2 – a large Buff-bellied Hummingbird was 11 years and 2 months old.
So, it’s important to note that just because the average lifespan is between 3–5 years, it doesn’t mean that birds won’t live longer. Some can make it past a decade, which is absolutely incredible.
However, the number is taken down significantly due to the fact that many of these birds don’t actually make it to adulthood.
How Do Hummingbirds Die?
There are a number of ways for a hummingbird to die before it even becomes old.
While most hummingbirds won’t even make it past their first year, adults can die from a variety of things, including disease, predators, weather, and injury.
Predators of the hummingbird include animals like snakes, lizards, bats, chipmunks, and squirrels. However, the particular predator that a hummingbird deals with will depend on the climate and other geographical features.
It’s common for hummingbirds to die due to injuries they sustain, too. This can be because of flying into something or getting stuck on something. These tiny birds are often hit by vehicles without us even realizing it, too.
Diseases that hummingbirds can get include things like mycobacteriosis, salmonellosis, and aspergillosis. These birds are vulnerable to parasites, bacteria, viruses, and also fungi, which can dramatically reduce their life expectancy.
Diseases can be passed from birds if they use feeders that are not maintained or cleaned. So, if you have a hummingbird feeder, please make sure to maintain it to keep these precious birds safe!
Is There A Difference In Lifespan Between Males And Females?
Yes! Females actually tend to live longer than males. This is because males are more likely to die in the mating season due to all the energy they need to exert when looking for a mate.
Since most hummingbirds need to feed every 10 minutes to keep their metabolism working, the males suffer a lot during mating season and migration.
The Life Cycle Of A Hummingbird
The Nesting Phase
A female hummingbird will build their nest out of the materials they can find around them – usually bits of plant and spider silk. Some nests are so tiny, you may not even realize that one is sitting there!
As expected, hummingbird eggs are tiny – the size of a tic tac in some cases!
The female has some responsibility for the eggs and the chicks when they hatch. She will usually lay two eggs, and can have multiple broods in a year.
Some hummingbird eggs, like the ruby-throated hummingbird, will hatch in just 11–16 days! When they do, they will weigh as little as 0.62 grams.
That’s tiny, if you didn’t know! This is about a third of how much a U.S. penny weighs.
The mother will catch her chicks tiny insects, since they require protein to grow and be healthy, not nectar.
Leaving The Nest
Many hummingbirds are mature enough to fly the nest at 21 days old. During the first month or so, the fledglings will still be fed by their mother.
However, after that, they will take on the responsibility of taking care of themselves.
An adult hummingbird has the most amazing metabolism in the animal kingdom, which means that they have to eat a lot. In fact, they need to nourish themselves every 10 minutes to stay healthy!
As a result, they may visit up to 2,000 flowers in a single day. Around two thirds of their diet is made up of nectar, and the other third is protein from insects.
Sexual Maturity And Mating
When a hummingbird reaches a year old, they are able to start reproducing. Like many species, a male hummingbird will have his own territory, and will try to court a female who gets nearby.
If the female enjoys the show he puts on for her, the pair will mate. If she doesn’t, she will find someone who is worthy, and the cycle continues!
Hummingbirds will usually live between 3–5 years. However, some have lived more than a decade, while most do not make it past their first year.
It’s amazing how long these tiny creatures can live, considering their need to feed every 10 minutes!
The typical life span of a hummingbird is just 3-5 years. Some species, like the Ruby-throated hummingbird, may live for up to 7 years, while others like the Black-chinned hummingbird, have a shorter lifespan of around 4 years.
Hummingbirds sleep for 12 hours per night, entering into a state of torpor, which is a hibernation-like state. This allows them to conserve energy and lower their metabolism.
The leading cause of death for hummingbirds is from exposure to cold temperatures, particularly during migration when they are not able to find enough food or shelter to survive. Other causes include disease, flying into obstacles, predation and starvation.