As it turns out, the tiny hummingbird is quite a busy bird. Hummingbirds are almost always hovering. They even stay flying while feeding. Nevertheless, they’re still bound to get some rest.
They’re primarily shy, and it’s hard to catch one sleeping. So, where do hummingbirds sleep?
Hummingbirds sleep upside down on small tree branches where they can find shelter from the cold. Meanwhile, female hummingbirds sleep in the nests with their little ones.
Let’s find out more about the hummers’ sleeping patterns!
If you hang bird feeders, you might attract hummingbirds. They’ll feed, hover around, and they might even rest there.
However, the hovering hummingbirds will be nowhere in sight once the darkness falls. Even if the feeders have a nesting spot, they will ignore it entirely during the night.
Top Tip: Hummingbirds prefer to sleep alone on tree branches. They’ll find ones deep within thick trees and stay there for the night, thinking it’ll be warmer and less exposed to winds.
Torpor is the hummingbird’s sleep cycle. When a hummingbird is hanging upside down with closed eyes, it’s called a torpid bird. The bird might also sleep upright with a drooping head.
If you have no previous experience with hummers, a torpid bird might look alarming. Some people think that it’s dead at first sight.
You might be tempted to carry the bird to examine it. Instead, we recommend leaving the bird alone and monitoring it from afar. The hummer should regain consciousness with the first daylight.
Torpor is strongest during the winter. The torpor state becomes lighter and shorter in the summer since the temperature rises, and the daylight lasts longer.
These changes are a natural response to cold temperature and the light-dark cycles. Torpor is regulated by the endocrine system.
The following are the most common physiological changes that happen during torpor:
- Slowed down metabolic processed
- Decreased heart rate
- Depressed respiratory rate and gas exchange
- Heterothermy and lower core body temperature
- Urinary retention
- Reduced response to stimuli
Sometimes, hummingbirds can be seen halfway out of sleep. They’ll hang upside down, but their eyes will be open. They won’t be responsive, though.
Author Note: It might take the hummingbird a while to completely awake from the torpor state. It’s normal for a bird to spend anywhere between 20 minutes to an hour awakening.
This slow rise from sleep helps with thermoregulation. However, since the body temperature drops during torpor, the hummingbird must regain this loss gradually.
Hibernation is also a reduction in metabolism throughout the winter season. To avoid getting lost in all the jargon, we like to think of hibernation as a prolonged torpor.
Like torpor, it’s a state of energy conservation, but it’s mainly limited to mammals. Migrating birds, like hummingbirds, show no sign of hibernating.
It’s not as severe as hibernation, but the torpor of the hummingbird is extreme. A torpid hummer’s temperature can drop to 38℉ without any damage to its vital organs!
Hummingbirds get an average of 12 hours of inactivity daily. It seems like a lot for such an active bird, but it’s perfectly normal for their circadian rhythms.
The amount of sleep will change depending on the season and location. Since torpor is mainly influenced by daylight cycles, the hummingbird sleeps from dusk to dawn.
Torpor’s energy conservation allows the bird to go through the night without feeding. However, once the torpor ends, the bird will quickly seek food.
No, hummingbirds aren’t nocturnal animals. In fact, they are strictly diurnal, which means that they tend to be active during the day and rest as soon as it gets dark.
One thing that might mess with their circadian rhythm is too much artificial light. If the birds live somewhere with bright lighting, they might continue their activity well into the night.
In a study, when flowers were illuminated by lamps, hummingbirds would stay awake and hover over these flowers beyond daylight.
Hummingbirds are really good at migrating. They can fly solo, and they’re fast — a whooping 60 mph! That’s twice as fast a fighter jet if you’re looking for a reference.
However, they don’t have the best night vision. They’re good with color during the day, but once it gets dark, they’re no owls. As a result, they generally avoid flying at night.
Author Note: One exception is their migration through the Gulf of Mexico. It’s estimated that they fly around 500 miles non-stop since there’s nowhere to rest along the way.
After the mating season, female hummingbirds avoid sleeping on bare branches. Instead, they’ll seek shelter in their nests.
The best trees for a nest would be ideally a long, bushy, evergreen tree, like pine. However, the bird might nest in oak, sycamore, or birch. In desperate conditions, hummingbirds might nest in the shrubbery.
The female will choose a high spot and make a nest out of twigs and leaves. Sometimes, the hummingbird will use spider silk as a binder for the nest.
Hummingbirds nest after the breeding season. Some species might reproduce up to three times every year. For the most part, hummingbirds lay eggs once annually, and their breeding cycle starts in March.
It takes the eggs around three weeks to hatch. Then, the young chicks won’t leave the nest for 20 to 30 days. During this period, the mother is the sole provider for her offspring.
This means that the female hummingbird needs to keep the eggs/chicks warm. That’s why the bird sleeps in the nest instead of joining the male hummingbirds on bare branches.
Birdhouses are great for cavity-nesters, which hummingbirds are not. Yet, in extreme weather, you might wonder if there’s any way you can get the birds to sleep in a birdhouse for protection.
It’s rare for a hummingbird to sleep in any man-made birdhouse. Most of the time, they can resist the cold and wind with torpor.
They might rest on platforms, though. That’s because the stick platforms in front of a feeder can look and feel like a branch.
Instead of building nesting spots, you can try to maintain a peaceful environment for the hummingbirds.
For the most part, they’re delicate and picky birds. However, with some green thumbs, you can make your garden attractive to hummers.
Having a couple of evergreen trees is a huge plus. Thick trees will encourage the birds to nest in your garden.
Flowering plants are essential for hummingbirds because they feed on the nectars. It’s always a good idea to mix species with different bloom seasons to keep the garden rich all year round.
Top Tip: Did you know that hummingbirds are attracted to bright colors like orange and red? Keep this in mind when choosing the flowers you’ll plant.
Here’s a list of some flowers that attract hummingbirds:
- Bee Balms
While hummingbirds aren’t cavity-nesters, they’re still attracted to feeders. Get red or orange plastic feeders and hang a few around in safe spots.
Hummingbirds are viscous feeders. Some birds will eat anywhere between four to six times per hour during the day.
If you want to make your own feeder nectar mix, use one part sugar to four parts water. Boil the mix and let it cool down. Keep the mix transparent, and don’t add any dyes; it’ll confuse the birds.
Hummingbirds won’t drink a lot, but they love to get wet and play around in bubblers. The best type to use is spring water. Try to avoid using distilled water.
Birds absolutely love misters, and hummingbirds are no exception. Get a mister attachment for your garden hose and watch the birds fly back and forth through it to take a bath!
Besides the mister, you can also get a bubbler or a dripper. Don’t forget to keep the bright-colored theme all across the garden.
While smaller insects (ants, mosquitos, and larvae) can be a part of a hummingbird’s diet, a full-on infestation is quite harmful.
The pests will compete with the bird population over the available food resources. Some larger insects and predators might even attack the birds.
However, it’s essential to avoid over-using pesticides. They can be dangerous for the hummers, too. Clean the garden regularly and eliminate predator nests as you go.
These are the predators you need to watch out for in a hummingbird-rich garden:
- Praying mantises
Hummingbirds are marvelous creatures. If you embellish your garden enough, you can enjoy their view in the morning. However, once the night falls, they disappear out of sight.
So, where do hummingbirds sleep, and why is it so hard to spot them at night? Hummingbirds usually sleep solo on hidden tree branches or in nests (for females.)
Their sleep state, called torpor, is like a soft hibernation. On average, a 12-hour torpor helps the birds survive long, cold nights.
Aside from this torpor, the hummingbirds don’t sleep through the day. They don’t even take naps!
Hummingbirds are found across North and South America, they are New World birds. This means they are not found in Europe, Asia or Oceania.
Hummingbirds can fly at up to 30 miles per hour during a normal flight and up to 45 miles per hour if they are in a courtship dive.
Well, they have the largest brain in the bird world. It takes up just over 4% of their body mass, which is more than any other bird and any human as well. Sounds smart to me!