Must-Know Nighttime Habits that Hummingbirds Do to Survive

Hummingbirds stand out for their colorful plumage, high pitched ‘squeaks,’ and impressive upside-down flying maneuvers.

As well as being the only bird able to fly backward, these intriguing birds also have some unusual sleeping routines.

And when I saw unusual…I mean it!

So, how exactly does a bird that has no sense of smell, weighs less than a nickel, and can’t hop, manage to thrive?

Hummingbirds might be small but they shouldn’t be overlooked. These colorful, chirpy creatures have some pretty quirky abilities to keep themselves alive.

The question remains, exactly where do these little hummingbirds sleep?

And how do they manage not to freeze to death? – after all, they are on the small side.

Scroll down to learn all you need to know about the amazing sleep patterns and routines of these wing hovering creatures.

Where Do Hummingbirds Go at Night?

When night time arrives hummingbirds generally go and find a nice branch to perch on – it’s not unknown for them to perch upside down… like a bat!

A hummingbird generally likes to settle down or to sleep during the night time hours, and it reserves feeding times for the daytime.

Feeding at night can sometimes happen during the summer months, during migration, or when their habitat is in an area with a particularly bright porch light.

They like to find sheltered areas, and their tiny feet easily latch onto the branch and keep them in place during their nighttime slumber.

The Ins-and-Outs of ‘Torpor’

These small birds have to preserve their energy, so during sleep, they go into energy-saving mode – this resting state’s called ‘torpor.’

This basically means that they will remain in a deep sleep – this allows them to drastically drop their body temperature, and it’s common for their heart-rate to be as little as a just few beats per minute.

It takes a hummingbird 20 minutes to an hour to fully recover from ‘torpor’ but then they go back to normal.

In fact, during this hibernation-like state, it’s easy to mistakenly think a hummingbird wasn’t breathing at all.

Don’t worry, chances are they’re perfectly fine, they’re just having a Sleeping Beauty moment and are in a deep sleep.

These masters of preservation, manage to save up to 85% of their energy through this method…nifty.

Do Hummingbirds Eat at Night?

From dusk till dawn hummingbirds go into a feeding frenzy. Their small size and fast metabolisms mean that they’re in constant need of energy.

Hummingbirds have to consume a lot, which means their days consist of flower flitting and sap searching.

But during the night they can settle down in their sheltered area of choice, and because of their energy preserving like state; ‘torpor,’ hummingbirds are able to slow down their metabolism and finally get some Zzz’s.

Top Food Choices

When hummingbirds aren’t preserving their energy with ‘torpor,’ they’re constantly on the lookout for their next snack.

It takes a lot to keep these little birds functioning, as they need to consume 2 to 3 times their body weight every day – therefore it’s no surprise that they spend the majority of the day on the lookout for their next meal.

So, what exactly do hummingbirds like to feast on?

They love using their long tongue to lick up nectar, but they also enjoy insects such as small spiders, and tree sap – yum!

Sleeping Preferences

The leafier and more sheltered the area then the better it is for the hummingbird.

Hummingbirds like a fork of branches, lots of shrubs, and areas of varying heights for them to hover from.

Their small size means they can fly between notoriously small gaps, and safely hide away from any predators.

These small birds make tiny nests and their eggs are smaller than a jelly bean – talk about miniature.

Although on the tiny side, choosing to use nest-building materials such as fibers instead of leaves and twigs makes them more durable.

Where Do They Sleep During the Winter?

Most hummingbirds choose to migrate to warmer climates during the colder months, such as the Ruby-Throated Hummingbird, and the Calliope Hummingbird.

A few species of hummingbirds sometimes stay put all year round, such as Anna’s Hummingbird, although seeing hummingbirds in the winter months is a rare sighting.

With such a small size and constant need for energy, it’s hard to imagine how they survive the grueling winter months.

Hummingbirds are adaptable creatures that are great at scoping out cozy leafy areas.

However effective the hibernation state of ‘torpor’ is, the fact remains that most hummingbird species aren’t designed to survive freezing temperatures.

Most hummingbirds return to the north during the middle of May and remain there until the fall.

Fun Facts

As well as having fascinating energy-saving abilities, the hummingbird has many other awesome things it can do.

During the daytime hummingbirds are constantly on the go – in fact, they can fly up to 30 miles an hour.

We know that during the hibernation state of ‘torpor,’ their heart rate slows right down to just a few beats per minute, but during the day it’s as high as 1200 beats per minute.

This is pretty impressive in compassion to the average humans which is a mere 60 – 100 beats each.

Their name’s derived from the humming noise their fast flapping wings make.

They’re able to move their wings in a figure of 8 positions, which makes them such experts at hovering.

There are over 300 species of these colorful, quirky birds. Most of which are found in the Western Hemisphere.

Hummingbirds – An Overview

From the hummingbird’s sleep routine to their amazing hover abilities it’s hard to find a bird quite as intriguing as them – they truly are one-of-a-kind.

A life centered around eating and sleeping sounds pretty great to me but it also sounds exhausting.

From ‘torpor,’ to their dropped heart-rates, it takes a lot of energy for a hummingbird to flourish.

The hummingbird is a fascinating member of the bird world that adds impressive flying skills and a touch of color.

Not only are they fun-filled creatures that have interesting ways of surviving, but they also prove that great things can indeed come in small packages.

Julian Goldie - Owner of

Julian Goldie

I'm a bird enthusiast and creator of Chipper Birds, a blog sharing my experience caring for birds. I've traveled the world bird watching and I'm committed to helping others with bird care. Contact me at [email protected] for assistance.