Where Do Hummingbirds
Go at Night?

By Richard Worden

Hummingbirds are magnificent and exciting to watch. Everybody enjoys looking at their tiny, colorful feathers, elegant beaks, and rapidly flapping wings hovering over and zipping around feeders and flower beds. They are so active that it is difficult to imagine them resting, but where do hummingbirds go at night?

Hummingbirds usually find a twig in a warm sheltered spot for the night. It’s usually deep in the branches and leaves to protect from cold weather. As they sleep, they go into a hibernation-like state called torpor and lower their metabolic rate to conserve energy.

It is almost impossible to see a hummingbird that is not flitting around. So, this article will give you some information about what these tiny, energetic birds do at night. Keep reading.

Where do Hummingbirds go at night

Where Do Hummingbirds Sleep?

Hummingbirds like to sleep in sheltered spots on tree branches hidden from cold winds, but females sleep in their nests during nesting season. Hummingbirds do not like sleeping in tight or enclosed spaces. Therefore, they don’t use birdhouses and rarely nest near homes. They prefer nesting deep in the leaves of trees.

Hummingbirds like deciduous trees such as birch, oak, or poplar. These trees have many branches and leaves that create numerous safe spaces for hummingbirds to sleep safely. They also build their nests in the same locations. It’s almost impossible to spot a hummingbird nest because they are tiny and well-camouflaged deep in the trees.

Hummingbirds usually sleep alone due to their solitary nature. They go into a really deep, hibernation-like sleep known as torpor in cold weather. Therefore they do not need body heat from other birds to keep warm. Although it is common to see several hummingbirds on the same tree or branch, they usually space out and don’t huddle together. 

Learn More Hummingbird 3

We felt this topic deserved a more indepth coverage so we wrote this page dedicated to discussing where Hummingbirds like to sleep. Be sure to check it out!

Hummingbirds and Sleep

When sleeping, hummingbirds go into torpor; they settle in their safe perching spot or sit in their nest if they have young ones to care for. 

Hummingbirds have a very high metabolic rate and must frequently feed to maintain their energy. In torpor, hummingbirds conserve up to 60% of their energy to survive through the night; otherwise, they would starve.

As they sleep, hummingbirds lower their metabolism to 1/15th of the normal rate and use 50% less energy than they need when awake. Their heart rate drops to 50 beats per minute, down from 1200 beats per minute when awake. The body temperature is almost hypothermic, and the breathing becomes so slow that it seems like the bird is not breathing.

Hummingbirds Sleep Upside Down

It’s not unusual to find a sleeping hummingbird hanging upside down and appearing dead. It probably would not respond even if you touched it, so it is better to leave the bird alone. It takes 20 minutes to an hour for hummingbirds to wake up, respond to external stimuli, and fully recover from torpor.

As soon as they wake up, hummingbirds will immediately look for food and consume 25% of their daily food intake.

Although it is not clear why hummingbirds hang upside down in their sleep, it could be because they find it difficult to maintain balance in that state of torpor. When they settle down, they close their toes tightly around their perch. They may slip and hang upside down if the perch is very smooth. However, they aren’t in danger and will right themselves easily when they wake up.

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Hummingbirds love a good birdbath, but not just anyone will do! This helpful article of mine offers tips on chosing the right one, as well as reviewing those Hummingbird birdbaths that attract them the most.

Here's an interesting example
of a Hummingbird sleeping upside down next to breakfast...

Why Hummingbirds Sleep

Sleep is critical for every animal, but birds often sleep differently from other animals. Below are the three main reasons why hummingbirds need to sleep.

  • To maintain their body heat: Hummingbirds depend on their metabolism to retain their body heat. They become inactive at night to adjust their body temperature until it is low enough to keep the bird alive but little or nothing more.

  • To replenish energy: Hummingbirds must sleep to recover all the energy used during the day, when they eat every 15-20 minutes. As hummingbirds sleep in torpor, their sleep method allows them to use minimal energy to awaken alert and refreshed.

  • To survive cold nights: Nights can get quite cold as the sun sets, even in average climates. Torpor helps hummingbirds to cope with colder nights. Hummingbirds can survive cold, freezing nights by reducing their body temperature.

Do Hummingbirds Feed at Night?

Hummingbirds are generally not nocturnal, and they feed in the daytime. They eat a lot of food in the early morning and evening before sleeping. They feed a lot during the day but fill up these hours. They frequently feed from nectar flowers and sugar water feeders.

Sometimes, you might spot a hummingbird feeding at night, especially in warmer weather. You might also see one or two where there is artificial lighting. Other than nectar, hummingbirds also eat lots of insects for protein. So, the next time you see a hummingbird feeding at night, you know it is stocking up on proteins.

You might assume that hummingbirds must feed at night to meet their daily energy needs due to their high metabolism. However, since hummingbirds slip into torpor in their sleep, they need far less energy than they do in the daytime. 

Torpor reduces energy consumption by up to 60%. It allows the birds to rest throughout the night without the risk of energy levels dropping too low.

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Hummingbirds can be fussy eaters, that's why it's important to choose just the right feeder. Here's a helpful article of mine that reviews the feeders Hummingbirds like the most...

Do Hummingbirds Fly at Night?

A hummingbird’s typical behavior is to settle down for the night around 30 minutes before sunset. The only exception is during migration season, when they often fly in the dark. Some species fly 500 miles (804.67 km) over the open ocean in the Gulf of Mexico, so they have no resting place. 

These birds have no choice but to take the 20-hour flight, with a significant portion of the journey in the dark. They usually have an enormous meal before taking off to make the journey successful. They double their weight to store enough energy for the long flight.

Hummingbirds have poor night vision because they are not natural nocturnal birds. This is one of the reasons why they do not feed at night except in places with bright artificial light. 

So, where do hummingbirds go at night with poor night vision and a migration season? The answer is simple: they go exactly where they’re supposed to go. They don’t need to see their migratory route because following it is their natural instinct.

How Do Hummingbirds Brave the Cold Winter Nights?

Not only are hummingbirds warm-blooded, but they also lack insulating feathers typical of many bird species. Even in their sleep, hummingbirds have enormous metabolic demands to enable them to survive through the night when foraging is impossible. 

To deal with this challenge, hummingbirds lower their internal thermostat and become almost hypothermic at night. In this state of torpor, they consume half the energy they need when awake.

A hummingbird’s main food is flower nectar which provides them with high-energy sugars. They also consume many small insects that contain essential proteins and higher-energy fats. Hummingbirds have insatiable appetites due to their colossal metabolic needs. They must eat 2-3 times above their body weight daily in tiny insects and flower nectar.

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Let's get more indepth and discuss what Hummingbirds eat in the winter. This fascinating article of ours talks of their dietary preferences as well as the additional energy needs the cold brings on.

Where Do Hummingbirds Go At Night?
...Final Thoughts

Hummingbirds are fascinating creatures that you rarely see at night. So, where do hummingbirds go at night? 

Hummingbirds sleep to conserve energy and rarely feed at night. The occasional night feeding only occurs under bright artificial lights, and the bird usually catches insects attracted to such light. Hummingbirds are only active at night during migration because they fly over expansive water bodies with nowhere to rest.

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About Me

About the Author...

Richard Worden, a dedicated bird lover for over 20 years, I love to share my in-depth knowledge and passion for birds. Read more About Me and my expertise in this field.

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