What Time Of Day Do Hummingbirds Feed? (Answered)


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Hummingbirds have the highest metabolism of any animal in the world. Their heart rates reach 1,200 beats per minute as their wings flap up to 80 times per second. That all requires a large quantity of energy.

Because of their high energy usage, they eat a whole lot. In a single day, they can eat more than twice their body weight in food. 

Hummingbirds constantly require energy, so they feed on nectar and small insects throughout the day. On average, hummingbirds feed every 10 to 15 minutes during the day.

Their tiny tongues can only take up a small amount of nectar at a time, so they must constantly look for nectar sources.

Hummingbird Activity

Hummingbirds usually wake up approximately one hour before sunrise, but they have been seen rising almost two hours before the sun rises.

Hummingbirds are most active at feeders early in the morning and late in the afternoon or evening. These are the most critical times of the day for the little hummingbirds.

In the early morning, they have just woken up after a long sleep and need to re-energize their bodies after staying in a torpor state for the whole night with no energy input.

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In the evening, they drink as much nectar as possible to give themselves enough energy to survive the night, and they typically go to sleep about half an hour before sunset.

The only time they rest for an extended period is at night.

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How Long Do Hummingbirds Take To Find A Feeder?

Photo: Eric Kilby / Flickr / CC BY-SA 2.0

So you may have recently bought a feeder, filled it with nectar, and placed it in a good spot in your yard with the expectation that the hummingbirds will visit.

But then you notice that no hummingbirds are coming to your feeder, and you must keep replacing the nectar without success.

Don’t be too disheartened, because it does take some time for hummingbirds to find a new feeder. You may have to wait for a few weeks before you get your first visitor.

If your feeder is hanging in a good location, wait at least two weeks before you adjust the positioning. Leaving your feeder out will give the hummingbirds time to find your feeder and start visiting more regularly.

How Hummingbirds Find Feeders

Hummingbirds find feeders using their excellent sense of vision and by looking for bright colors.

They are attracted to bright colors because flowers with bright colors often contain nectar with a high sugar concentration.

One of the ways to increase the chances of hummingbirds visiting your feeder is to make sure the feeder is bright red.

If you want hummingbirds to find your bright red feeder even more efficiently, place it in a prominent position and ensure the nectar ports are full of clean nectar.

Speeding Up The Process

Hummingbirds are also attracted to water sources, so placing one in your yard should increase the probability of hummingbirds coming to your yard and noticing your feeder.

Another way to lure hummingbirds into your yard is to plant native flowering plants that the hummingbirds favor.


When To Bring Hummingbird Feeders Inside

Most hummingbirds migrate south before winter sets in at their breeding grounds, but some may still be around when it is freezing.

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In those situations, the hummingbirds still require nectar, and you’ll be happy to know that you can still feed them.

However, extra care needs to be taken when feeding hummingbirds in freezing conditions. Hummingbird nectar has a lower freezing point than regular water, so it freezes at lower temperatures.

If you leave your feeder out in weather that is colder than the freezing point of the nectar, then the nectar freezes and turns into slushy ice. The hummingbirds can’t drink frozen nectar, of course, so that will disrupt their feeding.

When the weather is that cold, you should bring your feeder indoors overnight. If you bring your feeder in for the night, it needs to be placed outside first thing in the morning, as the hummingbirds require energy very early in the day.

The hummingbirds must feed early, especially when it is cold, to warm up their bodies after the cold night and maintain their body temperature.

If you want to avoid bringing the feeder indoors overnight, then a trick is to hang an iridescent light bulb close to the feeder as the bulbs release heat that warms up the feeder.

Hummingbirds will drink the nectar even when it is frigid, as long as it is in liquid form. Cold nectar can be extremely dangerous to hummingbirds because they can become cold-stunned, and that could result in death.


Hummingbirds At Night

When the hummingbirds have finished feeding for the day, they find a sheltered twig to perch on and roost for the night.

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To conserve their energy, they enter a hibernation-like state known as torpor. In the torpid state, their body temperatures drop, and their heart and breathing rates slow down dramatically.

Sometimes, when bright lights are on outside, hummingbirds may continue feeding into the night, especially when the weather is warm.


Conclusion

Hummingbirds feed throughout the day. They take breaks, but they feed consistently every 10 to 15 minutes. They sometimes even feed at night when it is warm and there are bright lights.

Hummingbirds start feeding before sunrise and stop feeding about 30 minutes before sunset. Their most active periods are in the early morning and the late afternoon or evening.

These little bundles of energy will always feed if nectar is available, even if it is freezing. That makes it essential to bring feeders indoors or warm them up when it is too cold to prevent the hummingbirds from drinking close-to-frozen nectar and becoming cold-stunned or potentially dying.

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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.

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