Eating for Energy
Hummingbirds use a lot of energy. Their wings can flap 200 times a second! Listen. Hummingbirds burn energy so fast that they need to
eat 1.5 to 3 times their weight in food each day.
Nectar from Flowers
Hummingbirds find fast fuel in flower nectar.
The sweet fluid flows up their long, grooved tongues and into their mouths.
Nectar from Feeders
Your backyard feeders can also give hummingbirds a quick source of energy. Good thing, too,
because they may need to "gas up" every 15 minutes throughout
More than Nectar
eat both plant and animal material. These tiny omnivores get protein and fat from insects and small spiders. The hummingbirds will need this slow-burning energy to fuel their long migrations.
When food sources are scarce hummingbirds get a little help from their friends. These savvy birds feed on the sweet sap from small holes drilled in trees by yellow-bellied sapsuckers. Hummers also dine on insects stuck
in the sap.
At night, and when it is too cold or rainy to find food, hummingbirds go into a sleep-like state called torpor. The bird's body temperature to drop and their heart rate to slow down. This adaptation allows hummers to conserve energy.
Your Backyard Habitat
Take a look outside. Do you think your outdoor habitat is ready for hummingbirds? Identify places where hummers might find the food they need to keep their engines running.