Hummingbird Life Cycle Stages and Characteristics (Images)

Alexander Pearson
Hummingbird Life Cycle Stages and Characteristics (Images)

The hummingbird life cycle It can be divided into stages and although many die in the first year of life, if they survive they usually exceed one year of life. In general, this bird has a life expectancy of three to five years once it makes it through its first year of life..

The hummingbird is one of the smallest bird species in the world. It is native to the Americas and is the only bird that can fly backwards. Its wings can flap between 12 and 90 times per second, depending on the size and the particular species of hummingbird..

There are more than 300 species of hummingbird, although they share some characteristics: they have the highest metabolism of any homeothermic animal, to conserve energy they can go into torpor, they are very sensitive to stimuli in their visual fields, they show a stable flight - despite strong winds - and can learn vocalizations through imitation.

What is the life cycle of the hummingbird like? Main stages

Despite having very fast metabolism, hummingbirds can be considered to have a medium life expectancy among birds. Many die in their first year of life, especially after hatching and fledging, when they are chicks. However, those who survive may live a year or more.

Among the most common species -like the Colibri coruscans-, life expectancy is 3 to 5 years. The longest known hummingbird is one that lived 12 years; was ringed at 1 year of age and reassessed at age 11.

The red-throated hummingbird, noted for inhabiting North America, is known for being the longest-lived species of hummingbird, being able to live up to 8 years.

The adult life cycle of the hummingbird is renewed annually, passing through the mating season in the spring, after which the female hummingbird must make a nest to lay and incubate her eggs. We are going to tell you about the phases of its life span:

1-Migration and mating

Male Ruby-throated Hummingbird

The hummingbird is among the species that migrates to warm areas during the winter months. Once spring arrives, the hummingbird returns to its territory to breed. This return takes place late in the month of March. Males migrate back to their territory approximately eight days before females.

When the females begin to arrive, the males perform striking movements in the air to attract them. In this way, they reach heights of almost 15 meters before going at full speed and making patterns and figures in the air. The sound of the wings of the males is like a buzz and together with their chirping they arouse the interest of the females.

Female Black-throated Hummingbird

The females choose the males to mate depending on the demonstrations they make in the air to woo them..

In this way, if the female is attracted to the male, she will agree to mate with him in his territory, otherwise, she will go to the territory of another male. Generally, a single male has the possibility of mating with several females within his territory..

In general, male hummingbirds are territorial and mate within their territories with different females. This bird can be found in different types of habitats, ranging from deserts to mountains and jungles..

Hummingbirds, like humans, are known to be an altricial species, that is, they are born completely defenseless and require the care of their mothers to survive until they can fend for themselves.

Unlike many species of birds, hummingbirds are not a monogamous species, this means that during their adult life they can have multiple companions and join with them only to reproduce. Males do not become attached to females after mating.


The hummingbird's nest is something bigger than a coin

After mating, the female hummingbird will have little or nothing to do with the male for nest making and egg laying. In this way, the adult female hummingbird makes a cup-shaped nest without assistance from the male..

This nest is usually made with branches or pieces of tree bark on top of a small inclined branch in an open area or stream..

The female tends to collect cobwebs to wrap around the outside of the nest. Many females also camouflage their nests with pieces of moss and place it in line with other plants..

A hummingbird nest is the size of a ping-pong ball, coin, or walnut shell, approximately 4 centimeters in diameter and 6 centimeters high. This nest is used exclusively to lay eggs, since hummingbirds do not use it to sleep.

3-Egg laying and incubation

Hummingbird eggs.

Female hummingbirds lay a maximum of three white eggs in their nests. These eggs are the size of coffee beans or peas, being the smallest eggs laid by any bird in the world..

Occasionally a female may lay a single egg, but she will rarely lay more than two. This is because two is the number of young that the female can optimally care for. In case there were three of them, it is most likely that they all died at a young age.

Female of the species Selasphorus rufus incubating eggs.

The female must incubate the eggs for 18 to 19 days, leaving the nest for only five minutes every hour. Sometimes in colder climates the incubation process can take up to 21 days.

4-Raising chickens

Female of the species Selasphorus calliope feeding young

Hummingbirds, like humans, are considered an altricial species, meaning that when they are born they are completely dependent on their mothers for a prolonged period of time to survive..

In this way, a baby hummingbird at birth will have a maximum height of two centimeters and the conservation of its body temperature and food will depend on the mother for several days..

Hummingbird chicks in Arizona.

The mother must divide her time effectively, in such a way that she can collect food from the nectar of flowers and small insects and, likewise, can keep her young warm. The mother must carry the food in her beak and then regurgitate it in the beaks and throats of her young.

On about the eighth day after hatching, the hatchlings begin to produce their first feathers.

In this way, a mother hummingbird will have to stay with her young for three weeks. Once the hatchlings are ready to fend for themselves, they will leave the nest.

How much do the chicks weigh and what do they eat?

At hatch, the chicks weigh 0.62 grams. They need protein to feed and grow, so the mother spends time catching small insects and spiders.

When did they learn to fly?

Hummingbird chicks begin to fly at 21 days of age.


Ruby-throated hummingbird female

An adult hummingbird will spend most of its life eating, as it needs to feed every ten minutes or so. This means that an adult hummingbird needs to consume two-thirds of its body weight in food daily. This is because the hummingbird is the animal with the fastest metabolism in the world..

Hummingbirds are not "romantic" birds, so they only interact to mate, being able to have different partners throughout their lives..

It is believed that the males only interact with the females after mating to allow them to pass within their territory to search for food and thus be able to feed the young.

Hummingbird species

There are more than 300 species of hummingbird. Some of them are:

  • Anthracothorax nigricollis.
  • Topaza pella.
  • Florisuga mellivora.
  • Eutoxeres aquila.
  • Glaucis dohrnii.
  • Threnetes niger.
  • Cynanthus latirostris.
  • Boissonneaua flavescens.
  • Amazilia tobaci.
  • Florisuga mellivora.
  • Phaethornis longuemareus.
  • Phaethornis nattereri.
  • Phaethornis griseogularis.

Hummingbird life cycle coloring for kids

If you are a teacher and you want to teach the hummingbird cycle to primary or secondary school children, you can use these images for coloring. To download them, click with the right button and "Save as".

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