It can often seem like hummingbirds eat non-stop, but this is simply not true. Yes, hummingbirds do have an extremely high metabolic rate, but they do not eat until they are full at every opportunity. So, what determines the amount of nectar that hummingbird needs to eat?
The amount of nectar that a hummingbird must intake each day is dependent on a number of factors including activity level, air temperature, quality of available resources, and time of year. The hummingbird will require one and a half times its body weight in nectar to meet its daily energy needs.
When it comes to selecting a food source, what is most important is the quantity and quality of the nectar which is available. Whenever choosing a flower, the hummingbird will select the flower with the highest nectar output and the richest concentration of sugars, regardless of the shape or color of the flower. Also more important than the color of the flower is how the nectar taste.
During daylight hours, the hummingbird will eat frequently for short periods of time. A hummingbird will feed between 5-8 times per hour with each feeding lasting about 30 seconds in length. At night, the hummingbird will eat as heavily as the nectar supply will allow. The hummingbird may store a third of its weight in nectar to ensure that it will survive its overnight fast while maintaining its normal resting metabolic rate.