Hummingbird Heart Rate: Interesting Facts You Might Not Know

hummingbird heart rate

How fast a hummingbird’s heart beats might be a question that you never thought about asking. But, the answer might well surprise you because it beats fast!

Generally, a hummingbird’s heart will beat as fast as 1,260 beats per minute when it’s in full flight. When you compare this to a human’s heart rate of between 60 to 100 beats per minute, that pretty fast.

But, a hummingbird will slow down its heart rate while it’s resting or hiding from predators. This phenomenon is called torpor and we’ll discuss this a little further.

Why Does A Hummingbird’s Heart Beat So Fast?

Hummingbirds are tiny birds. In fact, they are the smallest birds in all the 10,000 known bird species in the world. Most adult hummers only reach around 3.3 inches in length and weigh around 0.07 to 0.7 ounces.

Hummingbirds have to fly very long distances during their migration north for breeding and south for the winter. In fact, Ruby-throated hummingbirds can travel around 500 miles non-stop when they cross the Gulf of Mexico. This can take the little hummers at least 20 hours.

Even more amazing is the migratory flight of the Rufous hummingbird. These little birds will travel over 3,700 miles on their journey from Mexico to Alaska.

To endure these long flights, they require a lot of energy and they get this energy from the sugar of the nectar that they consume. They also have a very fast digestive system. In general, they will digest the sugar that they get from the nectar in as quickly as 20 minutes. Plus, around 97% of the sugar that they consume is converted into energy.

Because of their tiny size and the amount of energy that they have to consume daily, they have a very high metabolism which, in turn, makes their heart rate beat so fast.

Interesting Fact
A hummingbirds tongue is very long and forked. To get a large amount of nectar out of the flowers that they visit, their tongue will go in and out of the flower around twenty times per second.

What Is Torpor?

Torpor is a state that hummingbirds enter every night while they’re resting. It’s a hibernation-like state that helps these tiny birds to conserve their energy for the next day’s activities. During torpor, hummingbirds will drop their heart rate to around 50 to 250 beats per minute.

In this hibernation state, hummingbirds also drop their temperature and their metabolic rate. In fact, they’ll usually hang upside down in trees while they’re sleeping. Some hummers may even stop breathing for short periods of time to conserve energy.

Because of their extremely fast metabolism, hummingbirds have to consume an enormous amount of nectar every day to get the energy that they need. In fact, most hummingbirds will consume around half their body weight every single day.

This is the reason that they go into a state of torpor when they’re resting. Otherwise, they would simply starve while they’re sleeping.

In addition, this state of torpor also allows hummingbirds to survive very cold nights and periods of time when available food supply might be scarce.

Interesting Fact
Nesting female hummingbirds don’t enter a state of torpor when they’re sitting on their eggs. This is because they need the body heat to keep the eggs warm during the night.

Hummingbirds Have Excellent Blood Vessels

In order to provide the required energy their muscle cells need every second, hummingbirds have lots of capillaries. These allow their tiny hearts to furiously pump blood around their blood vessels.

This then allows them to efficiently use the energy to go about their daily activities. In fact, hummingbirds are one of the most efficient users of energy from both fructose and sucrose compared to any other living being on the planet.

Other Interesting Hummingbird Facts

If their amazing heart rate wasn’t enough, here are some other interesting facts about hummingbirds that you may not know.

  • Hummingbirds are the smallest birds in the world. In fact, the Bee Hummingbird weighs less than a penny.
  • Hummingbirds have very large brains when compared to their body size. In fact, their brain makes up around 4.2% of their total body weight. Plus, they also have the largest heart in comparison to their body size. This fact is not that surprising, given how fast a hummingbird’s heart beats.
  • Unlike other birds, hummers can rotate their wings 180 degrees. This means that they can fly forward and backward, and also side to side. Plus, they can easily hover in the same spot when they’re in front of flowers and feeding on nectar.
  • These tiny birds have no sense of smell, however, they have extremely keen eyesight.
  • The feet of hummingbirds are very weak and they cannot hop or even walk on them. They mainly only use their feet to perch on.
  • To get ready for migration, hummingbirds can consume up to 10 times their body weight. This can allow them to almost double their body weight as stored fat. They will then use this stored energy on their long migratory flights when there’s no ready food supply available.
  • A hummingbird’s daytime body temperature ranges from 105 to 108 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • The normal flight speed of a hummingbird is 30 miles per hour. However, they can reach speeds of up to 50 miles per hour when they’re escaping from predators or chasing insects.

Frequently Asked Questions:

How many times does a hummingbird flap its wings in one minute?

Most adult hummingbirds will beat their wings around 1,200 to 1,800 times per minute. This frantic beating is what causes the familiar humming sound that you might hear when there’s a hummer nearby.

Which bird has the highest heart rate?

Well, you guessed it! The hummingbird actually has the highest heart rate of all bird species.

Final Thoughts

Now you know that a hummingbird’s heart rate is among the fastest in the world at over 1,200 beats per minute. They also have an incredibly high metabolism to ensure that they get the energy that they need to get on with their daily activities.

We hope you found this information interesting. Do you have any other interesting hummingbird facts? Please share them with us in the comments below.

One Comment

  1. Bob&Martha

    Very interesting as we have started a little humming bird oasis in out back yard…

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