Why Do Hummingbirds Sit On Feeders For Hours? (Answered & Explained)


Don’t you just love hummingbirds? The delightful little birds add dashes of color to your yard as they flit about from one flower or feeder to the next in search of sugar-rich nectar.

Hummingbirds are little bundles of energy that can be very entertaining to watch as they almost constantly fly around in your yard.

You may not see it often, but hummingbirds do sit down occasionally in between nectar searches.

However, they can’t sit for long, as they can die of starvation if they don’t feed for two hours or more because of their incredibly fast metabolism.

So why does it seem like hummingbirds sit for hours on your feeder? You’ll need to know the reason behind this behavior to know whether or not to be concerned.

In the following article, you’ll discover why hummingbirds sit on feeders for hours.

8 Reasons Why Hummingbirds Are Sitting On Feeders

As we have established, hummingbirds don’t sit still too often. But they still have to rest as they can’t fly forever.

Get Our FREE Bird Feeder Cheat Sheet
Want more birds in your backyard? Get simple tips on attracting feathered friends and maximizing your bird feeding setup. Our free cheat sheet has got you covered!
Download The FREE Cheat Sheet

Hummingbirds don’t usually sit for hours, but they may do just that in some cases.

There are many reasons why a hummingbird will sit on a feeder for hours, but thankfully, only a few are negative.

1. Energy Conservation

Hummingbirds fly rapidly, beating their wings on average at around 53 beats per second. That’s a lot of wing flapping! So it’s no wonder they have to take a break occasionally.

Hummingbirds enter a hibernation-like state known as torpor to conserve energy, usually at night.

See also  What To Do If You Find A Baby Bird (8 Ways)

During torpor, they decrease their metabolisms and heart rates. That allows them to use less energy and survive cold conditions without feeding.

Hummingbirds usually enter a state of torpor during frigid days and at night. They typically perch on a branch but may stay on your feeder, where they can be in a dormant state for hours.

2. Guarding Their Territory

Male hummingbirds are usually incredibly territorial and aggressive. They defend their territory by attacking and chasing any other hummingbirds that come too close to the feeder.

When a male defends his territory, he may sit on your feeder for hours to ensure no hummingbirds invade his space.

3. Empty Feeders

This is one of the main reasons why hummingbirds may be hanging around your feeder.

When you have a flurry of activity at your feeder with many hummingbirds using the feeder simultaneously, the nectar quantity can reduce rapidly and eventually empty. 

You should check your feeder frequently to ensure enough nectar is in it to feed the hummingbirds and not have them waiting around for food.

You should keep the feeder sufficiently full, as hummingbirds feed very frequently.

4. Hypothermia

Cold nectar is exceptionally hazardous to hummingbirds as they can drink it and end up cold-stunned. Cold-stunned hummingbirds can become hypothermic.

When hummingbirds get hypothermia, they won’t be able to move, keeping them fixed on the feeder for hours. This is extremely dangerous, and hummingbirds can quickly die in this situation.

Always remember to feed hummingbirds nectar at room temperature and not give them cold nectar to prevent hypothermia, death, or other health issues.

5. Clogged Feeding Holes

As you know, hummingbird feeders have many feeding ports or holes into which hummingbirds can probe their beaks to obtain sugary nectar.

See also  How To Attract Birds To A Nest Box (5 Tips)

After excessive use, the holes are easily clogged by dirt, debris, and dry nectar build-up. The build-up prevents the nectar from flowing.

When that happens, the hummingbirds won’t be able to drink nectar, and they will wait at the feeder until the holes are unclogged so they can continue feeding.

6. Flavorless Food

Hummingbirds require sugar-rich nectar to maintain their metabolisms. You should purchase or make hummingbird nectar containing the correct sugar-to-water ratio when feeding hummingbirds.

The correct ratio that matches the sugar concentration in natural nectar is created by mixing one part of the sugar with four parts of water to form a sugar-water solution.

If the sugar-water concentration is incorrect, it won’t taste good or will be too diluted. As a result, the hummingbirds won’t want to drink it.

You should always provide hummingbirds with nectar made using the correct proportions.

If the hummingbird’s nectar isn’t satisfactory, then the hummingbird may sit and wait on the feeder until you replace the nectar.

It is crucial to get the proportions correct if other nectar sources are nearby because the hummingbird may move off and feed at those sources. It may not return to your feeder if the nectar isn’t satisfactory.

7. Predators

Hummingbirds won’t feed at your feeder if they feel threatened in any way and the situation is dangerous. Instead of feeding, they may sit and wait on your feeder.

This frequently happens if predators like cats, small raptors, and snakes threaten them.

If a hummingbird notices a predator, it may use your feeder as shelter to watch the predator and escape if necessary.

Once the predator has left the area, the hummingbird should resume its normal feeding behavior.

See also  Do Hummingbirds Build Nests? (Explained)

8. Sickness

It is a sad reality, but beautiful hummingbirds also fall ill like other creatures.

This is the worst reason why a hummingbird sits on your feeder for hours. A sign that a hummingbird is sick is crouching over with little to no movement, even when there is activity around it.

Call an animal welfare professional immediately if you see a sick or injured hummingbird.


Hummingbirds are well-loved, and it is normal for observers to feel concerned if one of their beloved feathered friends is sitting on the feeder for an unusually long time.

There are many reasons why a hummingbird will sit for hours on a feeder, but very few reasons are worth being concerned about.

When you see a hummingbird sitting on a perch or feeder for hours, it is usually best to leave it alone as long as you can tell it isn’t sick.

Now that you know why it happens, you can safely watch your favorite hummingbirds without concern in most situations.

Get Our FREE Bird Feeder Cheat Sheet
Want more birds in your backyard? Get simple tips on attracting feathered friends and maximizing your bird feeding setup. Our free cheat sheet has got you covered!
Download The FREE Cheat Sheet

Tristan Silver

Tristan is a South African biologist, photographer, and birder. From a young age, he developed a passion for the outdoors, being taught basic biology and shown animals in their natural habitat. He picked up photography at age 11, and it led him into the world of birding and exploring. He has traveled throughout South Africa, documenting over 630 bird species. He is also interested in amphibians, reptiles, insects, and some plants. He uses photography to document his experiences and has had his photographs appear in African Birdlife magazine. Tristan holds an Advanced Scuba Diving qualification and has dived on many coral reefs. He completed his honours degree in Biological Sciences at the University of KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa. He is also a writer, expressing and sharing his emotions from his experiences through his writing, combined with photographs.

Recent Posts