Do Hummingbirds Sleep?
With their nearly invisible, buzzing wings and flickery movements, hummingbirds seem to never stop moving. When we see these enigmatic miniature birds, it’s often for a second or less, and it appears that they are always in flight.
Just like other birds, though, hummingbirds have to stop to sleep, but the way they sleep is unique.
Hummingbirds do sleep, but when they sleep, they enter a state called torpor, which is closer to hibernation than traditional sleep. When in torpor, a hummingbird’s respiration, metabolism, and heartbeats slow so they can survive the chilly night and conserve energy.
Do Hummingbirds Sleep?
Yes, hummingbirds sleep in a state called torpor.
A hummingbird’s body uses a massive amount of energy day to day, so much so that they need to eat every 10 to 15 minutes. They even visit between 1,000 and 2,000 flowers a day! They burn so much energy because of their constant state of flight.
A hummingbird’s legs are very weak, making it nearly impossible for them to walk, which is why they fly so much and at such quick speeds. At the end of the day, a hummingbird’s body has spent so much energy that it has to rest, but unlike most birds, hummingbirds enter a state that is nearly hibernation.
This state, called torpor, helps the hummingbird rest during the frosty nights. Their metabolism, respiration, heart rate, and even body temperature lower, so they consume far less energy. In torpor, a hummingbird’s metabolic rate can slow as much as 95%!
This state is so effective at conserving energy that the hummingbird’s body uses only 50% of the amount of energy in torpor that it would use during the day.
Hummingbird torpor isn’t hibernating, though. Hibernation lasts for weeks, even months at a time, but hummingbirds enter the torpor state every night.
How Long Do Hummingbirds Sleep?
A hummingbird will sleep between 8 and 16 hours a night. How long they sleep depends on the amount of energy they burn throughout the day, the temperature, and how much daylight there is.
Hummingbirds need to recharge their bodies when they sleep at night, and if their day is particularly taxing, they’ll sleep longer than usual. A hummingbird’s body is amazingly efficient, but even so, they need to recover through sleep. Basically, the length of a hummingbird’s torpor depends on its energy expenditure during the day.
Temperature also plays a big part in how long a hummingbird will rest at night. A hummingbird’s core temperature hovers around 105°F when awake but lowers when sleeping.
If the surrounding temperature is low, they will remain in torpor longer, waking when it is warmer to raise their own body temperature more easily. It will take a hummingbird between 20 minutes and an hour to fully recover from its torpor state.
Lastly, hummingbirds don’t have excellent night vision. To compensate for this, they sleep from dawn until dusk, taking advantage of the sunshine and sleeping once the sun has set. Since the sun brings both energy and warmth, a hummingbird won’t rouse themselves from their torpor until the sun is up so they can see and warm themselves.
Do Hummingbirds Sleep Upside Down?
Hummingbirds can sleep upright, but they often end up sleeping upside down because of their lack of leg strength.
When it’s time to sleep, a hummingbird will choose a well-hidden perch and clamp its tiny feet onto it before entering torpor. Usually, they fall asleep while still upright, but hummingbirds will flip upside down if the tree branch is smooth enough.
Amazingly, the torpor sleep that hummingbirds fall into is so deep that this flipping doesn’t wake them up at all, and they sleep all night upside down. This doesn’t harm the hummingbird in any way.
Check out this YouTube video of a hummingbird coming out of torpor while sleeping upside down on a hummingbird feeder: fascinating!
Where Do Hummingbirds Sleep at Night?
Since hummingbirds are so sensitive to changes in temperature and so vulnerable during torpor, warmth and safety are their primary concerns when finding somewhere to sleep at night. At night, hummingbirds will find a small tree branch deep within the leaves or pine needles of a tree to sleep, hidden from predators and the elements.
Hummingbirds spend practically no time flying or feeding at night, and all of it sleeping instead. The hummingbird is a tiny bird with very fine feathers, so finding a place to shelter from the wind and cold weather is imperative as night falls.
Being exposed to the elements during torpor could be dangerous to a little bird like the hummingbird. The closer to the tree’s center that a hummingbird can get, the safer they are.
The only time a hummingbird won’t be sleeping near the tree’s trunk is when a female hummingbird is sitting on her eggs, in which case, she will stay in her little hummingbird nest at night.
Do Hummingbirds Sleep During the Day?
A hummingbird’s day may seem to just be a series of trips from flower to flower or bird feeder to bird feeder, but it is actually orchestrated very precisely. Because of how fast a hummingbird’s metabolism is, they are only a few hours away from starving at any moment, which is why they need to eat so often.
Eating every 10 to 15 minutes means there isn’t much time for extended daytime naps. Hummingbirds don’t sleep during the day because they must continue eating, and because they sleep so deeply in their torpor state, it is only safe to sleep after dark.
Simply put, there just isn’t enough time in the hummingbird’s day for a snooze. That’s not to say they won’t take a quick rest if it is safe and comfortable.
Do Hummingbirds Sleep in the Same Place Every Night?
Yes, most species of hummingbirds will return to a resting place night after night if they deem it safe enough.
Some species of hummingbirds migrate, so they will find a preferred spot in each area they migrate to use while they are there. If something happens to make a resting spot unsafe, hummingbirds have no trouble finding a new sleeping spot.
Did You Know?
Interesting facts about hummingbirds are plentiful. Did you know that the world’s smallest bird, the hummingbird, isn’t the only bird species that goes into torpor?
Other birds like chickadees, doves, poorwills, nighthawks, titmice, and roadrunners go into torpor on a cold night. Birds that eat insects are more likely to go into torpor during the night since insects are more active during the daylight hours.
Related Post: Why Do Hummingbirds Hover In Your Face?
Final Thoughts: Do Hummingbirds Sleep?
They do sleep every night, but hummingbird sleep is a special type of near-hibernation called torpor. A hummingbird’s bodily functions will slow down during this time, giving them time to recuperate from their busy day.
We love hummingbirds because of their beauty and how active they are, but even these busy birds need rest at night.
Facts about hummingbirds never cease to amaze, so for more on these fantastic creatures, check out this post: