How Long Do Hummingbirds Live?
There are many interesting things to know about hummingbirds, like how they can fly in any direction, how they eat as frequently as every 15 minutes, and how they have really fast wingbeats which cause the humming sound we hear from them.
Since they are migratory birds and are only seen during certain seasons, it’s also fascinating to speculate if it’s the same birds that come back year after year, and if not, how long they actually live.
The average life expectancy of hummingbirds is between 3 to 5 years—that is, if they live past their first year.
Similar to many other animals, most hummingbirds die within the year they were born, but should they get through that critical period, their lifespan improves drastically.
Some species of hummingbirds tend to live slightly longer, especially if they’re on the larger side.
Below are some types of hummingbirds with a record of their lifespan:
- The oldest recorded hummingbird was a Male Buff-Bellied Hummingbird, known for their metallic green plumage and orange tail feathers, who lived up to 11 years and two months old.
- A Female Black-Chinned Hummingbird, named appropriately for a distinctive dark spot just above its throat, was found to be at least 10 years old.
A Rufous Hummingbird—a mid-sized species commonly found in North America—was approximately 8 years old. Meanwhile;
- The oldest surviving Ruby-Throated Hummingbird, one of the most common species in the United States, was over six years old.
Several factors can affect a hummingbird’s lifespan:
- Since they rely strongly on their eyesight and are attracted to the color red, a lot of these birds actually slam into stationary things such as car brake lights or stoplights. They can also be hit by fast-moving vehicles when they fly too low in pursuit of these bright objects.
The onset of climate change may give hummingbirds problems with migration, particularly on how rising temperatures alter the life cycle of flowers, which is the main source of nectar for then.
If they migrate to find no flowers in bloom at their destination, they may suffer from starvation and die. Already, some birds have been recorded to arrive weeks too early for spring.
Hummingbirds also do not have a clear indication of bad weather, only following their instinct on when it’s time to migrate.
While they are tough and are known to be able to survive snow and cold temperatures, their chances of survivability lower significantly when they’re caught in heavy rain or a snowstorm unless they can find a place to rest.
With their small sizes, hummingbirds are prone to be hunted by predators, including bigger birds such as toucans, owls, and hawks. Other possible predators include snakes, lizards, frogs, praying mantises, and even bats in more tropical areas. Cats and dogs, especially feral ones, might also consider them as either a tasty treat or a toy, and can attack accordingly.
Hummingbirds are not exempt from diseases. They may get sick and weak from having nectar gone bad, often found in nectar feeders, which is why it’s important to replace them regularly.
Dirty feeders can also trigger bacterial infections in hummingbirds, so if you keep some in your home, make sure to clean them thoroughly.
Hummingbirds are beautiful creatures that deserve to live their lives to the fullest. While there are natural causes that contribute to their lifespan, humans can do a significant share in nurturing and protecting them so they can survive longer.