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What Time of Day Do Hummingbirds Eat? How Often Do They Eat?

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hummingbird feeding on flower

If you have seen hummingbirds in your yard, then you might be considering putting out a hummingbird feeder so they can come and go and eat when they please. However, you also might be wondering when you should put out your hummingbird feeder, what time of day the hummingbirds eat, and even how often they eat?

In fact, how often hummingbirds eat is according to the year. In some years, they aren’t really active at all, while in other years, they’re flitting around everywhere eating like crazy.

In this blog, we’ll answer your questions and tell you a little bit about hummingbird feeders at the same time, so you’re ready to feed your little friends whenever they’re ready to eat.

hummingbird divider

What Time of Day Do Hummingbirds Eat?

Hummingbirds usually feed the most often at dawn and dusk, or even early morning or late afternoon right before the sun sets.

However, even though this is thought to be their favorite time to eat, you can often see them snacking at the birdfeeder all throughout the day. Since these little birds can eat twice their own body weight, it’s possible you’ll constantly have feeding happening at your birdfeeder, especially if you have an active hummingbird population visiting your yard.

How Often Do Hummingbirds Eat Throughout the Day?

Since hummingbirds need constant energy, especially with the way they flap those little wings, they can stop by your feeder throughout the day.

Since they eat at least half of their body weight in sugar each day, that’s a lot of eating for a tiny bird. To keep up their energy levels, the birds eat every 10 minutes or so since they only get tiny bits of nectar at a time.

This is why having a feeding source is extremely important to the survival of hummingbirds. In the following sections, we’ll go into a little about your hummingbird feeder and even the best times to watch the little hummingbirds eat.

What Part of the Year Are Hummingbirds Most Active?

Naturally, hummingbirds are going to be attracted to warm climates since they feed on nectar and smaller insects. For that reason, hummingbirds are usually more active in the United States between March and September.

Their migration period starts in late August or September, which is when they start to move to warmer climates. So, with these things in mind, when should you put out your hummingbird feeder and when you should take it down for the long, hard, cold winter months? We’ll go into that in our next two sections.

hummingbird on hummingbird feeder

Image Credit: GeorgeB2, Pixabay

When Should You Put Out Your Hummingbird Feeder?

Some people leave their feeders out all year long so that any straggler hummingbirds have something to eat. That works okay for people who live in the southern climates. Still, if you live somewhere like Ohio or New England, for example, and have extremely harsh winters, chances are you’re not going to see much hummingbird activity. So, if you live in one of the colder climates, it’s best to put your feeder out in late March or early April.

When Should You Take In Your Hummingbird Feeder?

Hummingbird nectar freezes when it reaches 27 degrees, so you should be safe to leave it out even after the first cold snap, so you can supply food for any stragglers who haven’t migrated to warmer climates yet.

However, if you want to leave your feeders out longer, use the following tips to keep your nectar from turning to ice or getting slushy.

  • Wrap some of those festive Christmas lights you own around the feeder to keep it warm.
  • Use a heating lamp to keep the nectar from freezing. It’ll keep it warm for the birds.
  • Tape some hand warmers to the bottom of the hummingbird feeder.

As a side note, if you see any hummingbirds on the ground, bring them inside to warm up before assuming they’re dead. You might just save a little hummingbird’s life by being sure.

green hummingbird perching on red feeder

Image Credit: Piqsels

What Do Hummingbirds Eat?

Of course, if you’re going to have a hummingbird feeder and help feed these gorgeous creatures, you might be curious about what they eat. So, we’ll talk about that below.

Insects

While hummingbirds do consume a lot of sugar from the nectar they eat, that’s not all they eat. Hummingbirds also exist off small insects. The birds need protein and minerals to survive and to feed their young.

It’s thought that the hummingbird eats between a few dozen to over a hundred insects in a day so that they get the protein and minerals needed to be healthy and survive. These little birds prefer insects such as spiders, wasps, beetles, mosquitos, and ants.

Sugar

Hummingbirds need sugar to fuel their bodies, especially after a long migration. To help them get that sugar, you can keep food in your hummingbird feeder. However, they also get sugar from nectar from flowers, fruit trees, or bushes, and tree sap from the trees you have in your yard.

What’s the Best Time of Day to Watch Hummingbirds Eat?

Now that you know quite a bit about hummingbirds, what they eat, and when, you’re probably ready to sit out on your front porch and watch these tiny birds as they feast. Below, we’ll talk about the best times to watch them.

  • Dawn: This is possibly when the hummingbirds will visit your feeder the most. Since they’ve been sleeping all night, they’ll be up bright and early looking to eat to get the energy to make it through the day.
  • Afternoon: For the rest of the day, your feeder will be busy as hummingbirds flit back and forth, eating their fill. Sugar water is vital to keep them alive, and it’s possible they’ll stop to eat five to eight times in an hour, so you can watch them just about any time of the afternoon.
  • Dusk: As the day starts to settle and the sun goes down, the hummingbirds will be getting ready to turn in for the night. So, while you might see a little activity as the day draws to a close, it won’t be much because they’ll be looking for a place to sleep the night away.
green hummingbird feeding on white flower

Image Credit: Piqsels

hummingbird divider

Final Thoughts

We hope this answers your questions about what time of day hummingbirds eat and how often. Of course, we know that how often they eat can vary, but they’re most active in the mornings. Then, of course, you’ll find a little activity at dusk, but you can be sure that in the morning, your hummingbird feeder will once again be a hive of activity, if you keep it well stocked for your furry friends.

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Featured Image Credit: Veronika_Andrews, Pixabay

About the Author Robert Sparks

Robert’s obsession with all things optical started early in life, when his optician father would bring home prototypes for Robert to play with. Nowadays, Robert is dedicated to helping others find the right optics for their needs. His hobbies include astronomy, astrophysics, and model building. Originally from Newark, NJ, he resides in Santa Fe, New Mexico, where the nighttime skies are filled with glittering stars.

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