Hummingbirds are busy during the day finding food, hovering in place, and drinking sweet nectar.
These high-energy birds must rest to conserve energy for these activities.
Hummingbirds sleep each night in a hibernation-like state referred to as torpor. The nights are cooler and when the hummingbird’s metabolism, respiration rate, and heartbeat slow down it helps them to survive. This rest helps the hummingbird to conserve energy for the following day. When sleeping in torpor a hummingbird typically is hanging upside down from a branch.
Hummingbirds have a unique way of resting that is essential to their survival. Read on to learn more about this.
Hummingbirds Sleep In Torpor
Hummingbirds are diurnal; active during the day. At night, they go into a state of torpor, also called torpidity or noctivation. This saves 60% to 90% of their energy as they rest.
Torpor is different from hibernation, which lasts for several consecutive months in other animals.
Topor starts about 30 minutes before dusk. Hummingbirds on average sleep for 8 to 16 hours, on average 12, from dusk to dawn.
They do not take naps, since it is not necessary during the warmer daytime, and increases the risk of attacks from predators.
The hummingbird will rest and stop feeding during the cold nights, lowering its heart rate as low as 50 beats per minute (bpm), much slower than their typical 100 to 1,200 bpm.
The bird’s metabolic, heart, and respiration rates slow down each night and resume normal patterns during the day.
This essential rest allows the bird to regain energy for the next day and survive in colder temperatures.
If a hummingbird is found sleeping during the day, it typically means that the bird is sick, the weather is unexpectedly cold, or there is extreme food scarcity.
Why Torpor Is Necessary
Hummingbirds belong to the family Trochilidae and are warm-blooded creatures.
Their body temperature remains between 104°F to 108°F. During torpor, their body temperature can drop up to 50 degrees lower.
While flying, building nests, and feeding during the day, hummingbirds use the most energy and will have a body temperature at the higher end of their range.
At night, hummingbirds cannot see well to hover and obtain food sources. They eat throughout the day and have a feeding frenzy right before dusk, to have enough energy to survive the night.
When in torpor, their body temperatures lower while still maintaining enough energy for internal bodily organ functions.
Many hummingbirds migrate south to warmer temperatures in the winter and move north for breeding.
However, northern and southern locations can have unseasonal cold periods that put hummingbirds at risk, and they may not survive the night.
Role Of Feathers
Hummingbirds typically have fewer feathers as compared to other birds since they have lightweight bodies that can aerobically move.
This means that they have less body insulation and are more prone to heat loss.
To improve feather insulation during torpor, a hummingbird fluffs up its feathers while sleeping.
Female hummingbirds rest on top of the brood since the chicks do not have enough feathers yet to protect them from colder nights.
Where Hummingbirds Sleep
Hummingbirds tend to choose locations that provide them adequate shelter from predators and weather conditions. However, hummingbirds may rest in torpor out in the open from a feeder.
They will use the same location each night if it proves to be a secure place for resting.
Typically, hummingbirds are hard to see since their coloring of brown and green help them to blend in with trees and shrubs. However, if it sleeps from a feeder or a wire, it will be easy to spot.
Hummingbirds will not find shelter and rest in birdhouses, since they prefer spaced-out, open spaces of trees with big leaves, despite their tiny size.
Hummingbirds do not feed at night. However, there are hummingbird moths (sphinx moths) that enjoy nectar from feeders, strongly resembling the appearance of a hummingbird.
Typically, hummingbirds sleep alone, with closed eyes, and suspended upside down from a small branch or shrubbery with their toes secured tightly around it.
Blood flows towards the brain and chest cavity where the essential organs are housed.
Female hummingbirds will rest in torpor on top of a nest or brood of chicks.
A sitting hummingbird will sleep in torpor upright with its head bent far back, giving the appearance of a broken neck.
When a hummingbird is in torpor, it may look like it is dead, but take care not to disturb it.
About 1 or 2 hours before dawn, the hummingbird will begin to wake up from torpor. Sunlight triggers corticosterone (an energy hormone), helping them to wake up.
This waking process can take from 20 to 60 minutes. This slow process of waking up can put the hummingbird at risk from predators, such as lizards, bats, bluejays, and crows.
The hummingbird will start to shiver to create body heat. It will then start to feed vigorously, which also generates body and metabolic heat.
The video below shows a hummingbird sleeping, suspended upside down from a feeder.
Its feathers are fluffed out, and it is breathing slowly. As the sunlight warms it up at the beginning of the day, the breathing rate increases. Then, it flips itself over to immediately begin feeding for the day.
Check the video out here:
Hummingbirds sleep in a state referred to as torpor which is essential to their survival.
Torpor happens each night, when the hummingbird’s metabolic, heart, and respiration rates slow down. This helps them to combat colder temperatures and conserve energy for the following day.
Hummingbirds rest in torpor typically hanging upside down from a branch while concealed by the tree or shrub’s leaves. They may also hang upside down from a wire or feeder.
Female hummingbirds will rest in an upright stance with their heads bent back in order to keep eggs or chicks in their nests warm.
Read More About Hummingbirds:
- Do Hummingbirds Play Dead?
- Can Hummingbirds See In The Dark?
- Do Hummingbirds Have Predators?
- Can Hummingbirds Fly In The Rain?
- Do Hummingbirds Have Feet?