Why does a hummingbird spend a long time on the feeder? There can be multiple reasons behind it. A hummingbird sitting on a feeder for hours might be resting, guarding its territory, nearby predator, sick or conserving energy. It’s a normal behavior for them.
Ornithologists suggest leaving the bird alone as sitting for hours.
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A Little Info about Hummingbirds
Often, the hummingbird is called “hummers.” It is famous for its tiny size and constant waving of wings. They belong to a biological family called Trochilidae.
Again, they are native to the Americas. There are around 360 species available of this bird from Alaska to Tierra del Fuego. But most of them are found in the Tropics.
The size and weight may sound very cute as most species are 7.5–13 cm (3–5 in) in length. Even the smallest species, “bee hummingbird,” measures 55 cm (2.0 in) and weighs 2.0 g (0.07 oz).
On the other hand, a giant hummingbird is about 23 cm (9.1 in) with 18–24 grams (0.63–0.85 oz).
This bird feeds on mostly flower nectar. But, all species have one thing in common. They eat or consume flying insects or spiders.
Surprisingly, these birds have the maximum mass-specific metabolic rate among homeothermic animals. Even they can slow down their metabolic rate to 1/15 of their regular rate.
When they have no or least food, they can go into a torpor state. It is almost like hibernation.
Reasons for Hummingbird Sitting on Feeder for Hours
There are versatile reasons why you can see your favorite bird sitting on the feeder for a long duration. Some reasons may keep you worry-free, while others may need necessary attention.
However, you should know how long a hummingbird can sit on a feeder.
Hummers have less tendency to sit still. It always flies unless it gets tired. But there is a myth about it. When it stops flying, it meets death though it is wrong.
It’s true that it consistently moves its wings more than other birds. But it too needs rest which can be a reason to see the bird sitting on a feeder.
This little birdie can stay a long time on the feeders. It depends mostly on its food habit. If we think of volume, a hummingbird can consume up to 8 times compared to its body weight per day.
Also, it may starve to death within just two hours. It means it will fly to the feeder, have nectar, and sit frequently or at a stretch.
Here are the possible reasons why the bird sits on the feeder more than usual:
1. Empty or Half-full Feeder
Have you checked the feeder you are using to feed the hummers?
As the birdie requires frequent feeding, you must fill the feeder with sufficient nectar. If the feeder is empty or half, you should load it as soon as possible.
2. Tasteless Food
If the ratio is not appropriate, the food may taste bad or become tasteless. If the feeder is full of watery nectar, the bird may wait for you to change the food.
3. Clogged Feeding Holes
A feeder for hummers has lots of feeding holes to flow the nectar. Often, these holes get clogged with dirt, dust, or other debris.
So, the regular flow of nectar changes, and the birdie cannot have its meal properly. Maybe your pet friend is looking for food and sitting on the feeder.
4. Bird is Resting
It can be a positive reason for hummers sitting on the feeder for long hours. One hummer species, the Giant hummingbird, can flap its wings 10-15 times each second.
Another species, Amethyst Woodstar, can flap up to 80 times per second. So, these stats show there is a good chance of getting tired. You have nothing to worry about.
5. A Predator is Nearby
Predators like cats, bats, snakes, etc., are waiting and keeping an eye on the bird. They are very dangerous to this little pet as they can injure it badly.
Even they can kill or eat it after catching or fighting with it. Here, a feeder works as the shelter or shield for the hummingbird against those predators.
You will see the bird sitting still for a long time till the predator leaves the spot.
6. Perch Hypothermia (PH)
According to Judy Hoy, a Montana Wildlife rehabilitator names a hazard for the hummers named “Perch Hypothermia” in 1986.
If you feed the bird on a cold feeder or give very cold nectar, it may get this health issue. The bird faces a temporary state of impairment; possibly, it will sit still throughout the day.
So, stay careful about what you are feeding the hummingbird.
7. Sick Birdie
Birds cannot speak as we humans do. But they can be ill like all other creatures. It may have the illness when you see a hummer couching on the feeder without unusual movement.
If the bird is injured and too weak to fly.
8. Cold Weather
Hummingbirds need to eat a lot of food to stay warm, so they may be sitting on the feeder for longer periods of time in cold weather.
9. Bird is pregnant
Hummingbirds need to eat even more food when they are pregnant or raising young, so they may be sitting on the feeder more often.
10. Guarding its territory
Hummingbirds are very territorial, and they will often defend their feeding areas from other hummingbirds. If a hummingbird is sitting on a feeder, it may be guarding its territory from other hummingbirds that are trying to get to the food.
11. Conserving energy
Hummingbirds are very small birds, and they have a high metabolism. They need to eat a lot of food to stay alive, and they can only fly for short periods of time before they need to rest. If a hummingbird is sitting on a feeder, it may be conserving energy so that it can fly longer and find more food.
The hummingbird is indeed a beloved creature. But it may often sit on the feeder for short to long. You should not worry first till you inspect the reasons.
After inspecting well, you can decide why the hummingbird sits on the feeder for hours. Then, you should take the necessary steps like I have suggested here to keep it active.
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.