Hummingbird feeding is an art. Many new hummingbird feeders don’t know much about the tiny bird’s feeding habits. Hummingbirds have typical eating habits according to seasons and behavior. So, they are afraid of overfeeding them unintentionally. Don’t worry; we’ll help you! Let’s understand if you can overfeed hummingbirds right below.
Hummingbirds can overeat during breeding seasons, migratory periods, winters, or when they are pregnant. You can give them more food than usual during these seasons. They won’t grow fat or harm their bodies. It becomes a necessity to consume more food sometimes.
What do hummingbirds eat?
Hummingbirds have peculiar eating habits. They mostly feed on small insects like wasps, crickets, and spiders. Hummers love feeding on nectar, fruit juice, honey, and plant sap. These small creatures have a high metabolism. So, they consume food after every 10-15 minutes and visit up to 2000 flowers each day.
You can observe hummingbirds going for a larger diet during winters. They meet their energy requirements by consuming more sucrose from flower nectar. Also, they prey on many insects to gain more protein in their bodies during the cold season. Apart from winters, they eat more to gain up to 25% higher body weight before migration.
How many times a day do hummingbirds need to eat?
Hummingbirds have a rapid metabolism. Have you seen them flying? Their wings become invisible due to frequent flapping when in flight. Do you know? Hummers have a high wing beat of about 60-80 beats per second. You can understand that hummingbirds strive hard to gain enough energy to maintain their fast metabolism. So, they take small diets frequently.
Typically, hummingbirds eat small insects, nectar, fruit juice, and plant sap every 10-15 minutes. It helps them get enough energy to sustain their fast body movements. They are likely to visit your feeder in the early morning after sunrise or early evenings right before the sunset.
Can you overfeed hummingbirds?
Overfeeding of hummingbirds can happen in these cases.
1. Hummingbirds may overfeed if more food is placed
Hummingbirds have a high appetite. They will consume almost everything you provide them in the feeder. So, you might think that hummingbirds can overfeed themselves. They do overfeed themselves but not to the extent of getting obese.
Usually, hummingbirds burn 0.7 kcal per hour. So, they consume larger diets to meet their higher energy requirements. They might overeat to consume necessary nutrients at once. You might think they are eating too much even when they are showcasing normal behaviors.
You should know the exact ounces hummingbirds consume every day to check if your hummingbirds are consuming more than usual. Typically, your hummers will take in nearly 46 ounces of nectar every day. As long as you provide this much to their feeder, your hummers are eating healthy and showing normal behavior.
This doesn’t mean that the birds will consume a fixed quantity throughout the year. Some seasons and times encourage hummingbirds to eat more than usual. You might observe them flying around your feeder after finishing whatever you provide. So, they wish to eat more. You should identify these situations where a higher diet won’t harm the hummers. Let’s understand when such things happen.
2. Hummingbirds may overeat in winter season
Hummingbirds overeat in many instances. They consume more than usual during some seasons and times in the year. Here are some situations where you need to provide more food to your hummingbird feeder.
The cold weather is harsh for hummingbirds. As you already know, these creatures spend most of what they eat on maintaining their metabolism. During winters they need more energy to combat the cold weather and keep their bodies warm. So, you can observe that your birds will eat more than normal during winters.
You can overfeed hummingbirds during winters to meet their increased dietary and energy requirements in the season. Keeping more nectar, fruit juices, and honey in your feeder during the cold winters will supply more energy to your beloved birds. You will see that these creatures will eat almost everything in the feeder every day.
3. You might overfeed hummingbird during migration time
Do you know? Hummingbirds can cross more than 23 miles every day during migration. However, hummers are not long-flight birds. Their bodies are suitable for small flights. But, they do migrate across regions. So, they need to supply more nutrients to their bodies to fly more prolonged hours during migration.
They consume larger diets to maintain their energy balance during migration. So, you will observe them eating too much when migrating. They gain more body weight before the migration season starts. You can give them more food in February and late spring. Surprisingly, you will find little or no leftovers in the feeders during their migration period, indicating that their diet increases in these seasons.
Tips for a bird feeder to avoid overeating hummingbirds
Do you think your hummingbirds are eating more than they should? It’s time to check on their diets. You can implement the following tips to avoid hummingbirds from overeating.
- Don’t provide more than what is required in the feeder. Also, avoid overfilling the feeder. It might be tedious to supply fresh food every day in the feeder. However, doing so will prevent them from overeating.
- Position the feeder properly to avoid nectar overflow.
- If you were adding food colors into the nectar to attract hummingbirds, stop doing it. It will encourage the birds to drink more nectar resulting in overeating. So, you can avoid mixing food colors (especially the red ones) to ensure your birds are healthy.
How to know if hummingbirds are overfed?
Generally, hummingbirds eat nearly 46 ounces a day. If you see them eating more than that, it’s an alarming sign. However, they might consume more than usual during mating, pregnancy, migration, and winters. So, you can get the perfect estimate if your hummingbirds are feeding well.
Hummingbirds have a lot going on inside their bodies. So, you can expect them to be eating slightly more frequently than other birds. Also, they can overfeed sometimes when they have higher dietary requirements.