Do Hummingbirds Sleep?

It never ceases to amaze me the shear fascination people have with hummingbirds.I am no different then anyone else in this regard. Since I have been researching and writing about hummingbirds, my friends have asked me some very interesting questions about hummingbirds. This blog post is the result of one such question. My friend wanted to know if hummingbirds sleep.

Yes, hummingbirds do sleep. They do so at night by entering into a state known as torpor, which is a state similar to hibernation. Hummingbirds must enter this state to ensure that the birds won’t actually starve to death before down. Torpor is a type of deep sleep where an animal lowers its hart and metabolic rate. In a state of torpor the hummingbird lowers its metabolic rate by as much as 95%. A torpid hummingbird consumes up to 50 times less energy than when awake. The lowered metabolic rate also causes a cooled body temperature. A hummingbird’s night time body temperature is maintained at a level which is barely sufficient to maintain life. This level is known as their set point and it is far below the normal daytime body temperature of 104 degrees F or 40 degrees C known for other birds of similar size.

There are many reasons why the hummingbird must enter into a state of torpor. Hummingbirds are among the smallest of all warm-blooded animals, and they also lack the insulating downy feathers that are typical for many other bird species. Due to their small body size and lack of insulation, hummingbirds rapidly lose body heat to their surroundings. Even sleeping hummingbirds have huge metabolic demands that must be met in order for them to simply survive the night when they cannot forage. By entering into a state of torpor, a hummingbird is able to save enough energy to survive cold nights by lowering their internal thermostat.

There are several types of torpor. The various types of torpor are classified mostly by duration and season. If the state of torpor takes place over a long period of time during the winter, it is known as hibernation. However, unlike hibernation, hummingbird torpor can occur on any night of the year so it is referred to as daily torpor or noctivation.

Hummingbirds are not the only birds known to enter into a state of torpor. Other birds that are known to enter into a state of torpor include swallows and swifts. Scientists think that most small birds living in cold regions, such as chickadees, rely on torpor to survive long cold nights. Rodents, bats and other small mammals typically show some form of regulated hypothermia during cold weather, and these animals can only rely upon daily torpor during the winter months when they are not breeding. For hummingbirds, noctivation is possible on any night of the year.

The ability of the hummingbird to sleep by entering into the state of torpor literally saves the birds life. The ability to enter into a state of torpor will literally prevent it from starving to death before dawn. Isn’t it amazing how nature provides each species of animal the ability to help insure its own survival?

70 replies on “Do Hummingbirds Sleep?”

I found a hummingbird at my door step. At first it seemed very weak and after about an hour it seems to have gone to sleep. It Breathes but has been sleeping for the past 10hrs?? Will it survive? I placed it inside the house.


I just returned after having evacuated due to Hurricane Ike. Sorry for not being able to respond sooner. I hope this information helps, but I am not sure the hummingbird will survive. If you read this, please let me know what happened to the bird.

The sleep of torpid hummingbirds is a sleep that is as deep as death. According to the book, American Ornithology, written by Alexander Wilson in 1832, torpor is described as follows: “No motion of the lungs could be perceived … the eyes were shut, and, when touched by the finger, [the bird] gave no signs of life or motion.”

It takes approximately 20 minutes for a hummingbird to awaken from a state of torpor. When awakening, the hummingbird’s heart and breathing rates increase and they vibrate their wing muscles. The bird’s blood supply will be warmed by heat being generated by their vibrating muscles or from shivering. Shivering helps to warm the hummingbird’s body temperature by several degrees each minute and the bird awakens with enough energy reserves to see him through to his first feeding of the morning. Hummingbirds reliably awaken from torpor one or two hours before dawn without any known cues from the environment. It appears that the bird’s internal circadian clock is responsible for signaling when it is time to awaken from the state of torpor. Therefore, I can’t say just how long a hummingbird will sleep.

Hummingbirds will sleep in tree branches, on clothes lines, or phone lines. They really just want to be somewhere they can perch on and feel safe.

Thanks for taking the time to ask the question. Please visit the site often.

Thank you so much for this information! A hummingbird got into my house today in the afternoon, my mom found him but left him be (he was poking all around) and I got home until later. When I first saw him, he was sitting on the floor completely still, but when I moved him, he reacted a little. I put him in an open box, but after a while he stopped moving at all! I was deeply worried, thinking he was dead. I didn’t know what to do until I saw this. Thank you, thank you, thank you!

I’ve left him in a bathroom with a small window open so when he wakes up he can leave.

I am glad that you found the site and that the information was useful to you. I hope that the hummingbird was indeed only sleeping and not dead. Did the bird eventually fly away?

I would appreciate more visual materials, to make your blog more attractive, but your writing style really compensates it. But there is always place for improvement

Thanks for your comment. As you stated, there is always room for improvement and I am always striving to try and make the site better. I would be interested to hear any suggestions you have regarding the types of visual materials you would like to see used on the blog in an effort to try and make it more attractive.


All the post on the blog have been written by me, after having done extensive research on whatever topic a particular post is about. I write a new post as often as time allows me to do so, but there may be times when that does not happen for some reason or another. I hope this answers your question.

It is always nice to hear that people enjoy what I am writing about and I truly thank you for saying so. Please continue to visit the site often and let us know what you think.

Thanks for some quality thoughts there. I am kind of new to web surfing, so I printed this off to put in my file, any better way to go about keeping track of it then printing?

The best way to save a web page is to go under your favorites or bookmarks tab (favorites and bookmarks are the same thing) and then click on add to favorites or bookmark this page. This allows you to save the page you want and be able to refer to it later.

Pretty nice post. I just stumbled upon your blog and wanted to say that I have really enjoyed browsing your blog posts. In any case, I’ll be subscribing to your feed and I hope you write again soon!


I found a hummingbird this morning in my backyard. I believe the wing is broken,I tried to tape it but I did not complete the process. I thought about it’s feathers when removing the tape. I saw it done on the web but it seems scary, I didn’t want to cause it any more damage. Anyway I fed it through a clear pen with sugar& water. Made a little perch for it in a box where it is now sleeping. I hope to take it to a bird place tomorrow I don’t know if they will take it. I get to enjoy an average of five or six hummingbirds during the summer when the purple lilies bloom. The hummingbird is one of my favorite creatures I grew up in Jamaica with them and I hope this one will live to fly again. Some might tell me to get a life, and to them I say, I am trying to save one if I can.

The best advice I can offer you is that you need to contact a wildlife rehabilitator. These people are properly trained on how to treat injuries and without the proper care the bird will die very quickly. This is something I know you do not want to happen.

A hummingbird has recently built her next in a ficas tree, in front of my window. I have been watching her on the nest and have been able to watch the growth of her two little hummers. It has been really interesting, seeing her feed them, and now that they are almost ready to leave the nest,observe her watching them from afar. I feel so fortunate that she chose our tree to make her nest and lay her eggs. It is better than National Geographic.


I myself do not know of any specific forums on this subject. If you type in the words “hummingbird forums” in your search engine I am certain many will be found. Once you are on a specific forum, you should be able to find information on almost any topic relating to hummingbirds. Hope this helps answer your question.

Yes, you may reference some of the content in the post as long as you provide a link back to the site.

Appreciate the writeup. Not long ago I happened upon this page and thought I should say that I have liked going through this website’s blog posts. Anyway, I’ll be signing up to the feed and I hope you post again soon.

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Very good post you got here. As a blogger to another, I recognize how difficult and how much energy it takes to write up something tangible and good. You have my respect.

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Hi! This article is really awesome, I learned a lot! Thanks for sharing!! I was curious about what time do Hummingbirds go to sleep? I read that they wake around 2 hours before dawn, but when do they start their nap?

I am sorry you were having trouble accessing this page earlier. I do not know what would have caused it to have timed out. I am not aware of others having this issue, because you are the first person to have notified me of the issue. Sorry I cannot offer any other help concerning this matter.

Hummingbirds sleep at night. It is impossible to provide you an exact time. The birds will eat again at around dusk to make sure they will survive the night without starving to death, which can occur in as little as two hours.

Nice blog! Found this as I was searching for hummingbirds sleeping. For the very first time, I saw a hummingbird on my property but it was around 10 p.m. and it was at the petunias. I would of thought they’d be sleeping like the rest of the birds. What treat, I sat there just watching it, just love hummingbirds!

Just thought i would comment and say neat design, did you code it yourself? Looks great.

Took me time to read all the comments, but I really enjoyed the article. It proved to be Very helpful to me and I am sure to all the commenters here! It’s always nice when you can not only be informed, but also entertained!

Glad to know you like the design of the site. That is not something for which I can take credit for doing, as someone was responsible for the technical aspects of setting up the blog for me. I am responsible for the site content and maintaining the site.

Great article! I am just starting out in all this and trying to learn more about it – resources like this article are incredibly helpful.

You can subscribe via RSS and have your RSS reader update with new posts. Both Yahoo and Google have an RSS reader built into your accounts. So if you have a Yahoo account or a Google account this is pretty easy to do.

The information for this post was found through extensive Internet research. The various sources were used to help me create the article that was the end result. Hope this answers your question.

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We do not use spam software on the site. As a result, it is time consuming to go through all the comments individually, but it allows much more control of what appears on the blog. Hope this information is helpful to you.

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