Discover Where Hummingbirds Go and Sleep When It Rains

Written by Zoe Carina
Published: November 16, 2023
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Hummingbirds are gorgeous birds that are native to the Americas. Most species are found in Central and South America, though many live up north.

Many people might picture the tiny birds flitting about their yards in search of nectar on a sunny day. Maybe their minds wander to a tiny hummingbird in the rain, sheltered away in a tree or flower.

But what do hummingbirds really do when it rains? Where do they go to seek shelter and sleep during storms?

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Think You Can?

Can Hummingbirds Fly in the Rain?

Green-crowned Brilliant, Heliodoxa jacula, hovering next to orange flower, bird from mountain tropical forest, Panama, beautiful hummingbird sucking nectar from blossom, wildlife scene, nature

Hummingbirds use a lot of energy to fly.

©Jiri Hrebicek/Shutterstock.com

Yes, hummingbirds can fly in the rain. Their feathers repel water through design. The animals also preen to distribute water-repellant oils evenly around their body. The oils don’t make the birds entirely waterproof, so they employ other techniques to get through the rainy days.

These birds can also shake water off midflight. They move their feathers back and forth to remove almost all of the rain from their plumage. And they do it in only one-tenth of a second. When they are resting, these animals will also shake water off their bodies. Raindrops do not hurt hummingbirds or cause injuries.

What Hummingbirds Do in Light Rain

Exquisite stunning colorful male Anna’s hummingbird with bright iridescent pink magenta head wings out hovering

Hummingbirds shelter on leeward sides of tree trunks.

©Rachelle007/ via Getty Images

When it is raining lightly, hummingbirds do not change their flight pattern at all. They maintain their body posture in the same way they would if it were bright and sunny outside. During the summer months, a light or even moderate shower gives the animals a much-needed cool-down period. The birds tend to use less energy flying through light or medium water droplets than through intense heat.

If the rain is quite moderate, sometimes the birds will use feeders or feed in sheltered locations. But they’ll continue to flit around and look for food.

What Hummingbirds Do in Heavy Rain

Male Ruby-throated Hummingbird

The birds tend to stop hiding as soon as the rain lightens.

©Steve Byland/ via Getty Images

Similar to humans, hummingbirds seek shelter when the rain turns into a downpour. Usually, they’ll perch below tree leaves or shrubs. Their feet hold firmly to a thin branch, and nothing can move them for hours. If bad weather sets in, these animals will either go to sleep or enter a dormant state called torpor. This state allows them to save energy when they aren’t actively feeding.

Sometimes, the birds will continue to fly with heavy water droplets pounding around them. If you happen to witness this, notice how the animal holds its wings and body at a different angle. This subtle change allows the creatures to avoid soaking their wings with water.

Most people notice that hummingbirds flock to their feeders during heavier rain. The feeders are an easier source of nourishment for the animals in this weather. Insects are also hiding from the wet weather and the downpour makes it harder to drink nectar from flowers.

What Hummingbirds Do in Severe Storms and Hurricanes

Female Ruby Throated Hummingbird navigates a windy day to feed at a red, glass hummingbird feeder.

Scientists have noted hummingbirds eating from feeders in extreme precipitation.

©Randall Vermillion/Shutterstock.com

Unless desperate, hummingbirds will seek shelter and go into a state of torpor during severe storms and hurricanes. If they need to fly through a storm, the birds can. They’ll flit and glide quickly toward the nearest cover, whether it is natural or artificial.

When flying, the birds will angle their wings and tail to block the wind. They will also shake off the water frequently mid-flight. During mid-storm flight, the wingbeats tend to be slower and smoother. This form of flight consumes 50% more energy than usual, so the birds try to avoid it.

Once the bird is in shelter, it will cling to its perch with all its might. Sometimes the storm flips them upside down, but they don’t let go.

Where Hummingbirds Sleep At Night

Red glossy shiny bird. Fiery-throated Hummingbird, Panterpe insignis, colorful bird sitting on branch. Mountain bright animal from Panama.

These birds sleep or enter torpor about eight to 16 hours daily.

©Ondrej Prosicky/Shutterstock.com

Whether rain or shine, hummingbirds seek shelter to sleep before it gets dark. The animals find the driest spot possible with plenty of overhead foliage to cover them. They usually perch close to the ground or on horizontal tree branches.

The birds use their feet as a base and enter a state of torpor. In torpor, the hummingbird’s body temperature and functions usually drop significantly to conserve energy. During warmer months, the torpor state will be light. During the colder months, the birds go into deep torpor. Sometimes deep torpor means the animal’s body temperature goes from 104 degrees Fahrenheit to 65 degrees Fahrenheit.

Hummingbirds rest through the night and wake around dawn the following day to feed.

The photo featured at the top of this post is © Sheila Fitzgerald/Shutterstock.com


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About the Author

Zoe Carina is a writer at A-Z Animals who primarily covers plants, animals, and places around the world. Zoe has been a professional copywriter and freelancer for six years and holds a bachelors degree in communications from Florida State University, which they earned in 2019. A resident of Oregon, Zoe runs a blog called Intuitive Traveler, where they write about traveling and language learning.

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