How Long Do Hummingbirds Live In The Wild?


How Long Do Hummingbirds Live In The Wild?

Amazing birds to observe in your backyard are hummingbirds. Have you ever realized, though, how challenging it is to estimate a hummingbird’s age? You’re now interested in learning how long hummingbirds can survive in the wild.

Hummingbirds in the wild have a life expectancy of three to five years. Hummingbirds can live for up to 12 years and 2 months in the wild. The majority of hummingbirds pass away during their first year of life. A hummingbird’s lifespan is impacted by a number of variables. This covers things like their species, wellbeing, habitat, and migratory patterns.

You undoubtedly want to know how long regular hummingbird visitors to your feeders will live if you have a few of them. Everything you need to know about a hummingbird’s lifespan will be covered in this tutorial. Additionally, you’ll discover how to prolong the lives of various species and what to anticipate from them.

Let’s look more closely.

How long do hummingbirds live in the wild?

How long do hummingbirds live in the wild?

Each species of hummingbird has a different life expectancy. Hummingbirds have been reported to live to be 12 years old, although this is not the case for most of them.

Any animal that overcomes the odds and lives a long time will always have a few outliers. However, the actual average age is frequently far lower.

Regrettably, over 50% of hummingbirds perish as chicks or before they turn a year old. That is a result of youth’s fragility and lack of experience. Hummingbirds attempt to lay more than one egg with each clutch in the hopes that at least one will survive for this reason.

Hummingbirds that live past their first year must maintain their toughness. Their prospects of surviving are threatened by a number of things. Let’s examine the factors that have an impact on hummingbird lifespan.

Factors affecting hummingbird lifespan

1. Hummingbird species

How long a hummingbird survives in the wild is greatly influenced by its species. Look out how different hummingbird species’ typical ages can differ.

Species of hummingbirds Typical Lifespan a long lifespan
Hummingbird Anna 4 years 8 years
Hummingbird with a red throat 4 years 9 years
Hummingbird of Allen 3 years 12 years
Red-rumped Hummingbird 4 years 8 years
Hummingbird with a black-chin 5 years 11 years
Red-breasted Hummingbird 5 years 8 years
Hummingbird of Costa 4 years 8 years
Hummingbird with a Broad Tail 2 years 12 years
Hummingbird Bee 3 years 7 years
Hummingbird with a Buff Belly 4 years 11years

You’ll see that many species have life expectancies more than three to five years. But because most hummingbird species die early, the average lifespan of all hummingbirds decreases.

Hummingbirds that are midsize to large often live longer than those that are little. Due to their higher metabolism, smaller bird species frequently exhibit this. They will therefore exhaust their bodies far more quickly than a larger hummingbird would.

All hummingbird species’ males will likewise pass away sooner than females. This is due to the fact that male hummingbirds rarely rest. Male hummingbirds are constantly wooing females, guarding their territory, or moving ahead on their migration. Their small bodies tire more quickly from all that work.

2. Food Sources

Hummingbirds appear to spend the most of their time visiting flowers, but their diet is actually fairly diverse.

Hummingbirds consume a lot of floral nectar, but solely to maintain their energy levels so they can collect insects, which are their primary source of sustenance.

Finding both flowers and insects throughout the winter might be challenging. Since there are more flowers and insects in warmer climates, some species will migrate there.

Hummingbirds that are migrating might not have enough energy or be lost if they are not migrating as far as they usually are. They may be trapped in colder regions where food is in short supply as a result. This is a significant wintertime cause of hummingbird fatalities.

Some types of hummingbirds don’t migrate. They’ll have to survive the winter on the food they can get locally and through extended torpor. They won’t make it through the winter if they can’t get enough food.

In the spring and summer, territorial hummingbirds may even limit the sources of food. See my advice for how to get rid of aggressive hummingbirds at your feeders.

3. Predators

Due to their small size, hummingbirds are easy prey for several predators.

Common predators of hummingbirds include:

  • hefty birds
  • Frogs
  • Squirrels
  • Snakes
  • Lizards

If given the chance, other animals and insects will devour hummingbirds. They are typically too swift to catch, however they can get caught in webs or while dozing.

Predators frequently target young hummingbirds or even nesting birds’ eggs. These hummingbirds are weak and can lack the knowledge necessary to outsmart a predator.

Hummingbirds can be seriously endangered by domestic cats. They catch them in the act of their typical backyard stalking.

Hummingbirds will make it more difficult for predators to locate them in an effort to defend themselves. Due of their vivid colors, this might occasionally be challenging.

The small nest of a hummingbird blends in perfectly with the surrounding vegetation. Males won’t visit the nest because it may draw more attention due to their brilliant colors, which deters them.

In order to outsmart predators, hummingbirds also rely on their speed and agility. Additionally, they have the ability to flee by confusing predators with the noise created by their swiftly flapping wings.

4. Disease

A hummingbird’s survival rate will be significantly impacted by its health. The main causes of hummingbird fatalities and illness are disease and parasites.

Hummingbirds frequently get the following diseases:

  • A bird flu
  • Salmonella
  • Trichomoniasis
  • Aspergillosis
  • Candidias

Bird poop is frequently used to spread disease. Hummingbirds frequently encounter this at communal feeding locations, such as neglected bird feeders. Additionally, fleas and ticks can transmit diseases to an animal.

An injured, malnourished, elderly, or young hummingbird is far more likely to develop these illnesses.

Unless they are kidnapped and brought to a wildlife rehabber, wild birds do not have access to treatment. Most diseased hummingbirds won’t be able to afford this luxury and will pass away.

5. Injury

Hummingbirds may become significantly more prone to harm due to their habitat. A injured hummingbird that is unable to fly to a source of food may perish very rapidly. Whether it’s due to malnutrition, an infection, or the inability to escape predators.

Hummingbirds are more at risk in urban environments. A hummingbird that lives close to people has a considerably higher risk of passing away than one that has little interaction with them.

The greatest risk of injury to hummingbirds is collision. The most frequent collision is when a bird flies into a structure or home’s window. Being struck by vehicles, aircraft, wind turbines, and power lines are among other collisions.

Human usage of traps or chemicals like insecticides has the potential to result in additional injuries. Any of these wounds could harm a hummingbird’s exterior or interior. They may die as a result of this, or they may become prey to roving predators.

6. Climate

Hummingbirds are particularly vulnerable to the effects of climate change. Hummingbirds that are migrating cannot endure the harsh winter conditions.

There will be less food available and it will be impossible to survive if there is a sudden cold spell. This is due to the fact that the cold will induce hummingbirds to enter a condition of torpor, which is a miniature kind of hibernation. The only issue is that they require sufficient energy to awaken from that condition. They will perish without that energy.

A hummingbird needs to find a suitable habitat during a cold snap so that it can stay protected and warm until it can awaken. When in a state of torpor, a predator will eat them if they aren’t adequately disguised.

The effects of extreme weather are one more environmental threat to hummingbirds. That includes storms, tornadoes, hurricanes, and fires. In addition to destroying their habitat and food supplies, these can actually kill hummingbirds.

7. Migratory Behaviour

Some hummingbirds employ migration as a means of survival. This helps shield them from inadequate food resources and chilly weather.

Every species of hummingbird has an own migration path that it follows, and these routes vary in duration and the regions they pass through.

Migration is a very risky task to take on. Hummingbirds that are migrating require a lot of energy to go hundreds of kilometers to their destination. They’ll have a hard time getting there if the food sources along the road are poor.

Hummingbirds are more at risk during migration. This includes being lost and in unfamiliar area with unknown predators and scenery. These factors can all be disastrous for hummingbirds that are migrating.

Since hummingbirds migrate alone, they lack the flock’s safety net and assistance in finding food.

Hummingbirds must find the optimum environment after they arrive at their new location if they are to live. As a result, males may engage in violent combat to take advantage of the situation.

Factors affecting hummingbird lifespan

How to help hummingbirds to live longer

Hummingbirds don’t live long, yet they occasionally outlive most other birds by a significant margin. The lifespan of hummingbirds is significantly influenced by humans. The good news is that you can take steps to try and limit your impact on the hummingbird numbers in your area. Possibly even lend a hand to them.

Here are 5 ways that you may contribute to the longevity of hummingbirds.

1. Protect from predators

You won’t be able to stop domesticated hummingbirds from being killed by wild predators, but you can. Yes, cats pose a serious threat to the existence of hummingbirds.

Cats who live outside can readily stalk and catch a hummingbird that is either still or flying. Hummingbirds can’t compete with cats due of their small size.

Getting cats some form of collar is the simplest way to prevent them from killing a hummingbird (like these ones). The hummingbirds will be made aware of their presence. Although it won’t stop all deaths, it will significantly reduce them.

This will benefit all the birds in your area, not just the local hummingbirds.

2. Clean your feeders

There are ways you may lessen the threat of infections to hummingbirds, which is a significant one. Since hummingbird feeders are frequently highly crowded, disease can easily spread there by direct contact or bird droppings.

Maintaining clean bird feeders will assist to stop the spread of any remaining diseases. To keep the hummingbirds well-fed, you can move the feeders around if you take one down and put up a replacement.

If you see a sick or dead hummingbird next to your feeders, remove it right away. To stop any virus or germs from infecting the other hummingbirds, they must be thoroughly cleaned in hot, soapy water.

3. Don’t use pesticide

The sensitive metabolism of the hummingbird is hazardous to pesticide. Hummingbirds will consume a lot of nectar and insects, so keep that in mind. If they are sprayed with insecticides, they could come into contact with a lot of harmful chemicals.

By spraying insecticides, you are ultimately destroying a valuable hummingbird food supply. In fact, if you attract hummingbirds to your yard, they’ll do a wonderful job of getting rid of insects for you.

4. Prevent collisions

The simplest approach to prevent injury from crashes is to make your windows easier for hummingbirds to look through.

Hummingbirds frequently fight each other and fly around so swiftly that they may confuse the scene reflected in your window for a landscape.

The little hummingbirds that are killed by these window hits can be readily avoided.

The ideal answer is to put window decals on large panes close to your hummingbird feeders (these ones are the bestsellers).

Try installing more feeders that are distributed across your yard as well. This lessens the hummingbirds’ tendency to become aggressively territorial and to fly erratically.

5. Have Winter provisions

It could be fatal for a migrating hummingbird if they don’t reach their destination.

These hummingbirds must acclimate to the cold and scarce food sources. Keep your feeder up if you know hummingbirds will be in the neighborhood over the winter. For advice on feeding hummingbirds over the winter, see my guide.

In the two weeks following your last observation of a hummingbird feeding, keep the feeders in place. See my guide on when to take down your hummingbird feeders for more information on this.

You can even build tiny hummingbird nests to give them a warm spot to stay throughout the winter.

In order to give hummingbirds an adequate, non-frozen water source, providing or maintaining a birdbath in the winter is also essential.

Final Thoughts

Hummingbirds often live for three to five years. They are capable of living much longer, but there are several things that affect how long they survive. Food scarcity, predators, unfavorable weather, illness, and migration are some of these.

Hummingbirds frequently pass away before their due dates, in great part due to human activity. You may lessen your impact on hummingbirds’ lives in a few different ways, which will also help your guests live longer.


Do hummingbirds come back to the same place every year?

The same feeder will attract hummingbirds year after year since they have an excellent recall. The hummingbirds can fly away to look somewhere else if these feeders are not available, never to return. Although our small buddies return to us with loyalty, they cannot survive for more than a few hours without nectar.

How long do hummingbirds generally live?

three years

What’s the average lifespan of a hummingbird?

3 – 5 years

What is the oldest living hummingbird?

a 12-year-old

Do hummingbirds nest in the same location each year?

The hummingbird may try to build a second nest because it is still early in the nesting season in a garden near a good source of nectar and insects. However, it’s improbable that the hummingbird will build its nest exactly where it did before.


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Sarah Green

Wildlife and Nature Fan & Author