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?
Can Hummingbirds Fly in the Rain?
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
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
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
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
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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