Last Updated: February 15, 2021
Hummingbirds are charming…but did you ever wonder where or how they sleep?
While hummingbirds are cute little creatures, little did you know that they look even cuter asleep! You can say it’s comparable to watching a human baby–or a puppy–sleep.
Hummers spend most of the day in search of food and water, hardly resting their lightning-fast wings. Along with them burning around 10 calories daily, and not being nocturnal creatures hummers need to rest (sleep) at night.
In this article, I’ll share everything about these tiny little birds and their sleeping habits. The knowledge might make you appreciate the world’s smallest bird a little bit more.
The Hummingbird's Metabolism
Everything about the hummingbird expends energy so it is no surprise that after a hard day’s work, they need a good night’s rest to recover.
Hummers flap their wings 75 times per second in normal flight and their hearts beat four times a second. These activities constantly expend energy. Their metabolic rate is 100 times that of an elephant. Talk about small but mighty.
Thus, the average hummingbird needs to feed every 10-15 minutes to make up for their high metabolism.
So during the day when they aren’t migrating, they spend their time either feeding or in search of food.
How Do Hummingbirds Sleep?
Most people think of hummingbirds as exclusively tropical birds, but they are found in diverse habitats.
They are capable of enduring cold nights. They are at risk in the cold due to their small size, so they have adapted a way of sleeping that helps them stay alive. Unfortunately, some of them perish in the cold weather.
They start to prepare themselves to sleep about half an hour before daylight goes. However, their sleep is quite different. They enter into a hibernation-like state called torpor. In this state, it is easy to mistake them for being dead.
State Of Torpor
Hummingbirds are always moving and use up a HUGE amount of energy during the day.
If their metabolism at night remains the same as it is during the day, they would waste all energy trying to keep warm. They would either have to stay awake and keep eating or slow down their metabolism so they can conserve energy.
Hummingbirds do the latter which puts them in a state of torpor. Torpor is a deep sleep that is similar to hibernation.
When in this state, their metabolism slows to one-fifteenth its usual rate, and they lower their body temperatures significantly, low enough to become hypothermic.
Their heart rate drops to about 50 beats per minute – way below the usual rate of 1200 during the day. Their breathing becomes extremely shallow that it may seem like they’re dead. They don’t even respond to external stimuli like poking when in this state. While it may seem like they’re dead, it’s best not to disturb them in this state as they need their rest.
Being in this torpid state allows them to use roughly 5-30% of the normal energy they would use during the day. This means they can save up to 60% of their energy at night!
Where Do Hummingbirds Sleep?
Hummingbirds as you’d probably think, sleep on branches or nests. A hummingbird would settle in its favorite perching spot where it feels safe. If the hummingbird is female with a nest of baby hummers that cannot care for themselves, so the mother hummingbird would sit on the nest.
After a good night’s rest from dusk till dawn, they start to wake up. It can take anywhere from 20 minutes to an hour to recover from the torpor state. This makes sense because it takes time to enter the torpor state, it will take time to recover.
Their heart rate begins to increase as their breath also speeds up. They make noises which may sound like they’re snoring.
Once their heart rate is back to normal, they will begin to vibrate. This shivering helps to warm them up and get their body back to normal temperature.
Once they’re fully recovered, the first thing for them is food. The first meal after a torpor is very important to them. They consume up to a quarter of their daily intake in this first meal to start their day.
Do Hummingbirds Sleep During The Day?
While awake, hummingbirds are a few hours away from starving. Their high metabolism means they require constant feeding.
They spend a lot of their time feeding and searching for food whenever they’re awake. So, it is quite rare to find a hummingbird sleeping during the day.
Do Hummingbirds Ever Stop Flying?
Hummingbirds have an incredible flying ability. They spend almost all their time in the air even when they feed. Their legs are small and weak, and they typically can’t walk.
Hummingbirds only stop flying at nighttime when they have to rest.
Do Hummingbirds Sleep Hanging Upside Down?
Some hummingbirds do hang upside down while sleeping. If you find a hummingbird hanging upside down and appear to be dead, it is more likely they are sleeping. It is best not to disturb them.
Now, let's watch this to see that wonderful experience caught on video:
What Do Hummingbirds Do At Night Time?
Nighttime is a time of rest for most hummingbirds. Except when they’re migrating or nesting in an area with artificial lighting, they usually aren’t active at night. In locations with unnatural lighting, they would continue to feed at night.
During migration, some hummers such as the Ruby-Throated Hummingbird fly for 500 miles across the Mexican Gulf. The flight takes about 20 hours to complete and as there is no place for rest, they fly in one go and do not sleep.
They survive this trip by stocking up on body fat (an extra 25-45% of their body weight) as energy reserve before the trip. Once they get to the other side, they get a much-needed feed and rest.
It’s fascinating to see how different hummingbirds are during the day and night. The changes their little body undergoes shows how intricate nature is.
Now that you’re enlightened about hummingbirds’ sleeping habits, be sure to let the little creatures get a well-deserved rest the next time you spot them sleeping.