Imagine being a hummingbird in the rain. You’re tiny, you have a high metabolism, and you need to eat every 15-20 minutes. But the rain is coming down hard, and the nectar from the flowers is getting washed away. How are you going to survive?
These tiny birds have a few adaptations that help them do this, including waterproof feathers and a rapid body shake that helps them remove water from their feathers.
Yes, hummingbirds can feed in the rain. Even in heavy rain, hummingbirds can find food and water, which is essential for their survival.
Why are hummingbirds more active in the rain
Hummingbirds are more active in the rain for a few reasons.
- They need to eat more. Hummingbirds have a very high metabolism and need to eat small insects and nectar every 15-20 minutes to survive. In the rain, insects are more active, which means there is more food for hummingbirds to eat.
- The rain cools them down. Hummingbirds can overheat easily, especially in hot weather. The rain helps to cool them down and keep their body temperature in check.
- The rain helps them to preen. Hummingbirds preen their feathers regularly to keep them clean and free of parasites. The rain helps to loosen dirt and debris from their feathers, making it easier for them to preen.
Where do hummingbirds go in the rain?
Hummingbirds will usually find a sheltered place to wait out heavy rain. This could be:
- Dense vegetation: Hummingbirds can perch on leaves or branches of trees or shrubs, where they are protected from the rain.
- Under eaves or overhangs: Hummingbirds can also find shelter under eaves or overhangs of buildings or other structures.
- In hummingbird feeders: If you have a hummingbird feeder, hummingbirds may come to your yard to feed even when it is raining. The feeder will provide them with a source of nectar, even if they cannot fly out to find flowers.
- In hummingbird houses: If you have a hummingbird house, hummingbirds may come to your yard to seek shelter from the rain. The house will provide them with a safe place to stay until the rain stops.
How Can Hummingbirds Feed in the Rain?
Hummingbirds have a few adaptations that help them do this, including:
- Nectar availability: Hummingbirds are attracted to the sound of falling water, so they may be more likely to visit feeders that are in the rain.
- Feather waterproofing: Hummingbirds’ feathers are very water-resistant, which helps to keep them dry. They also have a special oil that they spread on their feathers to help repel water.
- Body shaking: Hummingbirds can shake their bodies to help remove water from their feathers.
However, there are some challenges that hummingbirds face when feeding in the rain. These include:
- Heavy rain: Heavy rain can make it difficult for hummingbirds to fly, and it can also wash away nectar from flowers.
- Cold rain: Cold rain can cool hummingbirds down, which can be dangerous for them.
Facts about hummingbirds’ feather waterproofing and protection
- Hummingbirds’ feathers are covered in a special oil that helps to repel water. This oil is produced by a gland at the base of the tail.
- Hummingbirds also have a special structure in their feathers that helps to trap air. This air helps to keep the feathers dry and insulates the hummingbird from the cold.
- Hummingbirds can also shake their bodies to help remove water from their feathers. This is a very effective way to dry off, and it helps to keep the hummingbird’s feathers in good condition.
How hummingbirds take advantage of Rainwater
Hummingbirds can drink rainwater directly from puddles or streams. They can also use rainwater to bathe. This helps to keep them clean and hydrated.
Considerations for Hummingbird Lovers During Rain
Here are some considerations for hummingbird lovers during rain:
- Keep your hummingbird feeders full. Hummingbirds need to eat every 15-20 minutes, so it is important to keep their feeders full, even when it is raining. If you have a rain cover, you can use it to protect your feeders from the rain. If you don’t have a rain cover, you can bring your feeders indoors when it is raining.
- Place your feeders in sheltered areas. If you place your feeders in sheltered areas, hummingbirds will be more likely to visit them, even when it is raining. Look for areas under eaves, overhangs, or trees.
- Don’t disturb them. If you see a hummingbird in the rain, it is best to leave it alone. Hummingbirds are very good at finding shelter, and they will not need your help. However, if you see a hummingbird that is soaked to the bone, you can offer it a little bit of sugar water to help it rehydrate.
- Using a rain cover: You can use a rain cover to protect the feeder from the rain.
Can hummingbirds fly in the rain?
Yes. A new study by scientists from the University of California, Berkeley, and the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute has discovered how tiny hummingbirds adapt to flying in heavy rain. Hummingbirds need to eat even in the rain because they use up a lot of energy while flying.
The researchers used high-speed cameras to film hummingbirds in their lab as they flew in light, moderate, and heavy rainfall. They found that light to moderate rain didn’t affect the birds much, but heavy rain made them change their flying position.
In heavy rain, hummingbirds flew with their bodies and tails more horizontal, which exposed more of their bodies to the rain. They also had to beat their wings faster, using up more energy.
Even though hummingbirds have water-resistant feathers and can shake their bodies quickly while flying, heavy rain is challenging because of the impact of raindrops and the weight of water sticking to their bodies.
When the hummingbirds changed their flying posture in heavy rain, they had to flap their wings much faster. This increase in wing-beat frequency required them to use between 9 and 57 percent more energy compared to when they were flying in lighter rain or without rain.
Hummingbirds are resourceful and resilient, continuing to feed in light rain. While heavy rain may pose challenges, these tiny marvels adapt, showcasing their determination and adding a delightful dimension to the world of bird watching.
What’s the best food for hummingbirds?
The best food for hummingbirds is a 1:4 solution of sugar to water. This means that you should mix 1 part sugar with 4 parts water. You can use white granulated sugar or cane sugar. Do not use honey, artificial sweeteners, or red food coloring.
I am a writer and blogger who is passionate about birds. I write to inspire and educate others about the beauty and importance of avian species in our ecosystem. I love to watch birds flying and taking their photographs to capture those memories.