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Do Hummingbirds Eat at Night? Are Rufous Nightjar & Hummingbird Same? 

Do you often invite hummingbirds into your backyard? Do the birds visit when it’s dark? Have you ever wondered, do hummingbirds eat at night? 

If you have managed to draw the birds in your backyard, you may not know for sure whether to leave the food open or close at night. We are here to help you! Let’s get started! 

In our article, we will learn whether hummingbirds eat at night or not. If they do, what do they eat? Can our backyard feeders help them? 

Did You Know? 

  • Hummingbirds consume more food than any other birds. They eat 1.5 to 3 times more than their body weight. 
  • They can feed up to 5-8 times per hour, based on the availability of nectar-rich flowers.
  • They initially feed on nectar from flowers but also consume insects and spiders for protein. 
  • The birds love bright flowers. Especially, red and orange flowers attract them more because they carry more nectar. 
  • Hummingbirds have special long, tube-like tongues. It allows them to reach deep into flowers and extract nectar. 
  • In migration, hummingbirds rely on nectar as their primary food source. They make stopovers to refuel along the way. 
  • They have excellent memory and can remember the locations of individual flowers and feeding spots. 
Do Hummingbirds Eat at Night

Do Hummingbirds Eat at Night?

Our little friends are best known for their daytime activity. They are mainly daytime eaters. 

The birds love sipping nectar from flowers during the day, and they are really good at it. With super-fast wings, it’s easier for them to hover in front of flowers. 

But Do Hummingbirds Eat at Night? 

To learn this, we first have to know whether they sleep at night or not. 

Hummingbirds generally retire at night. Meaning, they don’t engage in any activity when the sun goes down. One of the primary reasons behind it, is lower nectars are not available at night. 

Most flowers bloom during the daylight and close up in darkness. Only a few like the moonflower can’t be the source of food for the large community of hummingbirds. Thus, without anything to eat at night, they generally don’t practice nocturnal diets. 

Hence, yes, the hummingbirds don’t eat at night.  

The Torpor: 

Another important thing to remember is, that hummingbirds have super-high metabolism. They fly fast and burn a lot of energy to stay active during the day. 

To save energy at night, they go into a special kind of sleep called torpor. The torpor is the hibernation of hummingbirds. It is a sleep-like state in which, the body temperature drops along with the heart rate. 

The normal body temperature of the hummingbirds is 102°-104°. But in torpor mode, it drops below 50°. This essential trick of survival helps them use less energy so they can survive the night without eating.

In short, with their favorite foods gone, hummingbirds generally don’t eat at night. At night, they go into a special sleep mode to save energy. So, you can be pretty much sure that, they are daytime birds when it’s about eating.

The Exception: Rufous-Necked Nightjar

Rufous-Necked Nightjar

But remember, there’s always an exception. Most hummingbirds are strictly diurnal. Not the Rufous-Necked Nightjar (Scientifically known as, Antrostomus rufus). 

It is important to note that the Rufous-necked nightjar is not a true hummingbird but a bird from a different family, called nightjars.

Rufous-necked nightjar birds are crepuscular and nocturnal. Means, that they are most active during the twilight hours of dawn and dusk. They can be occasionally seen in the dark looking for food. 

However, the good news is that! Rufous-necked nightjars are not hummingbirds. And that leaves the entire community of hummingbirds diurnal. 

The Rufuous nightjars are often mistaken for hummingbirds due to their similar size and hovering flight, but be sure that, they are distinct species. 

Hummingbird Migration: Do They Eat At Night? 

Perhaps, you already know that some hummingbird species (such as the Ruby Throated) migrate at night. So, what happens when they travel all night awake? Do they eat then? 

Every year the Ruby Throated hummingbirds travel over the Gulf of Mexico. Before the journey begins, they eat as much as possible. To some extent, they double the weight to travel hard. 

Some experts believe that some hummingbirds who migrate might occasionally feed at night during migration to refuel and keep their energy levels up. However, it is not a regular or well-established behavior for every hummingbird species.

So, What Do the Hummingbirds Do at Night? 

They simply sleep like us! 

With torpor, hummingbirds are mostly inactive. They do not fly or move around much. They conserve energy by remaining still and quiet. When dawn breaks and the sun starts to rise, hummingbirds gradually wake up from torpor.

However, they usually don’t move out except for migration. 

Highlights from Today,

Our planet is rich in wonders and diversity. We share the world with other creatures and they are full of surprises. Most animals including us, share the same survival practices to live on. 

The hummingbirds are also no different than this. They select food in a variety and eat differently, and also adjust their living habits according to it. So, do the hummingbirds eat at night or not, is a genuine question to ask. 

If you have any more questions regarding the beautiful birds, feel free to let us know in the comment box. We would be happy to answer. Also, don’t forget to share our articles with other bird enthusiasts and help us grow. 

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