How Long Do Hummingbirds Live (And Why)?

Exact Answer: 3-5 Years

One of the most common questions people ask is how long do hummingbirds live. Hummingbirds are one of the smallest birds in North America and weigh between 3-4 grams, less than a nickel. 

They have wingspans that can grow up to 5 inches, and they fly at speeds up to 30 miles per hour. 

Their feathers are iridescent, with colors ranging from reds, oranges, greens, and blues depending on their location. 

Many people say that hummingbirds look like little jewels because of their brilliant colors. Hummingbirds feed on nectar by sucking it out of flowers with their long tongues.

How Long Do Hummingbirds Live?

BirdDuration
Hummingbird in wild3 – 5 years
Hummingbird in Captivity14 years

Hummingbirds die in their first year, but if they have completed an entire annual cycle, their length of life is extended dramatically.  A banded ruby-throated hummingbird was confirmed to have lived 6 years, 11 months. The oldest recorded age for a rufous hummingbird was 8 years and 1 month.

The average lifespan of a hummingbird is between 3 and 5 years. This is the case for most birds, which are not believed to live long generally. However, some species live longer than this average. For example, the oldest known documented bird lived to be an incredible 61 years old.

A few factors come into play when understanding how long hummingbirds will survive on Earth; they include genetics, malnutrition, stress/weather change-ups, or natural disasters that happen at any point in their lives. 

Northern and southern varieties hibernate for up to seven months out of the year, while others fly across the Gulf of Mexico without stopping. The average lifespan is between five and ten years in the wild but can be as long as two decades in captivity. 

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It’s difficult to say how old they get because there haven’t been any scientifically sound studies on their natural living habits. These birds might die fairly young.

Hummingbirds are known for their beautiful colors and ability to hover in place with an impressive wingspan. Hummingbirds don’t migrate and live exclusively in North America, with rare sightings documented in Alaska and northern Canada during breeding seasons.

Why Would Hummingbirds Live For So Long?

The main thing that sets hummingbird lifespans apart from most other birds is their ability to supercool their body temperatures below the freezing point without dying. 

The tiny bodies and high blood sugar concentrations found inside hummingbirds allow them to pull off this feat with near impunity. Some people think they do so to avoid being attacked from behind by an enemy during flight, but there isn’t much evidence to support that hypothesis.

They typically forage for nectar on flowers during the day and nest at night by coming home to perches close to their roosting spot, ranging between high spots like treetops or light fixtures below. 

Well, they can eat nectar that’s found in flowers. The sugar load in nectar helps replenish the energy they spend flying around collecting it for hours on end.

When sugars are taken out of nectar, a hummingbird will go to a sugary source and feed instead. This allows hummingbirds to live without eating for extended periods – even weeks.

Nests are somewhere between 4-7 inches wide and almost that tall, with nests appearing funnel-shaped. The rim of the nest is usually bent inward, which helps capture rainwater for the birds to drink. They weave together plant material like bark strips, tree moss, soft grasses, and flower petals over a frame to hold it all together.

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The eggs are only about 7mm long, but they hatch so quickly that they will be out in less than 12 hours after laying them. 

Conclusion

Compared to other birds, a hummingbird’s bill is relatively longer in proportion to its body. Also, they have tiny hairs on their tongues to help drink the nectar, just like a cat. 

Their hearts beat 1260 times per minute and also do not mate for life. When it comes to their sleeping patterns, hummingbirds sleep in their nest.  During the winter, they also go into a sleep-like state. Moreover, hummingbirds have amazing memories and can even recognize and remember people. 

Amazingly, they can travel over 2000 miles twice a year for migration and are considered the second largest family of birds among 300 species.

References

  1. https://www.jstor.org/stable/1364643 
  2. https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007%2FBF00368847
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