In some ways, you might be more interested to find out how do hummingbirds sleep, rather than where they go to do so. Because strangely enough, their sleeping pattern is what one would call ‘unusual’. Instead of going to sleep after a long day of flight and hunting for food, they enter a state which has been termed Torpor – a form of hibernation. Unlike other hibernating animals though, it’s not something they do specifically during winter. Instead, it’s something they do every night.
So, if you have ever wondered – do hummingbirds sleep – the answer would be yes and no. Let’s take a closer look at their sleeping pattern.
Where Do They Rest
Mostly, they seek out a safe branch, or sleep in their fully formed nest, if they have one. They are known to have a similar sleeping position like that of bats at times, that is, to sleep upside down. While sleeping, they have fluffed out feathers and their neck is hidden.
Here’s the catch though, if you see a hummingbird at night, resting on a branch or nest, you might not be able to immediately deduce it’s sleeping. However, if you notice that the breathing pattern is slow, that’s a very good indication it is in Torpor state and you shouldn’t disturb them.
Hummingbirds are fast-paced creatures. So, it’s important that when they are sleeping, their tiny body starts working at a way slower pace. If they have the same metabolism they have throughout the day during sleeping, well, they would have disturbed sleep and feel the need to feed in between.
By going into Torpor state, their metabolism slows down considerably. During this period, their otherwise warm body temperature drops into an almost hypothermic level. Awake, their heartbeats 1200 times per minute. In Torpor, it’s an easy 50 beats. To an observer, it appears as if they aren’t breathing at all. Their metabolism is also one-fifteenth of their usual amount.
Hummingbirds also use Torpor to be able to be one with nature. Since the temperature can drop severely at night, they protect themselves by lowering down their body temperature to the same state on extremely cold days.
For a hummingbird, coming out of the torpor state can take somewhere from 20 minutes to an hour. This is the time where you feel the first signs of visible life in them after a long night. Small noises come out of the bird that can be termed as snoring. They also start intaking more oxygen while waking up. Once their breathing returns to normal, a shiver wrecks through them, allowing the blood in their body to run warm again.
Hummingbirds are fascinating creatures. Despite their tiny body, they have a high metabolism and are one of the fastest flying birds. Yet, at the same time, they have figured out how to beat their metabolism and adapt to nature to protect themselves.