Do Hummingbirds Feed at Night?

debgrow(Z5 Chicago)August 14, 2008

I have several small glass blossom-shaped feeders on stakes in the garden (I have another one that hangs from a tree over the same garden). They've been there all summer, and the hummers really like them. They love darting back and forth between the one in the tree and the ones in the garden, and it gives them more room to share. (When I had just the hanging one, they'd fuss and fight over it, so I seldom had more than one hummingbird at a time in they yard.) I even moved a couple of them to the perimeter of my patio and I've been enjoying seeing them "up close and personal" for most of the summer. Sometimes they come and hover just in front of me, checking me out (and me them!)

The other night, though, apparently the racoons found the feeders. I went out there to say good morning to the hummers and all the stakes were bent, the feeders emptied, and there were feeder parts all over the lawn. Took them all in, cleaned them, skipped a night (thinking the coons would move on), and put them back out, but the same thing happened again last night.

So, now I'm thinking I might just need to take them in at night and put them back out in the morning when the racoons have gone to sleep. I'm not crazy about adding that much additional maintenance to my feeding routine, but I'm willing to do it to keep the hummers happy. Will the hummers miss the feeders during the night if they're not there?

My other, much more complicated but probably more effective, and certainly less maintenance requiring option is to figure out a way to bend the stakes into hooks so that I can hang the feeders where the coons can't get to them.

Do all of you experts have any other thoughts? Any ideas about how to "coon-proof" a feeder?

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The hummers don't feed at night, but they do arrive early and hungry, so if you take your feeders in at night, put them back out at first light.

    Bookmark   August 15, 2008 at 9:01AM
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joepyeweed(5b IL)

Sounds like raccoon damage. My mother has to bring her feeders in at night, else the raccoon's break them.

ONce they've discovered that sweet liquid, Its nearly impossible to hang them someplace where they won't get them... they will climb the side of the house, and hang down off the gutter to reach the feeders hanging from the soffit.

    Bookmark   August 15, 2008 at 10:12AM
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    Bookmark   August 15, 2008 at 1:26PM
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As a rule they do not feed at night , but I have seen vids of some feeding at night most likely where there are hordes of birds . I have seen posts of people in arizona that have to take their feeders in at night because bats will drain them by morning. There are pics of hummers feeding at night in areas which are plentifull of hummers . I will leave a link to photos showing as such from another hummer forum, had to track this one down. Scroll down the left panel and you will see hummers feeding at night. Enjoy!!!

Here is a link that might be useful: hummer heaven

    Bookmark   August 15, 2008 at 3:48PM
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My feeders are near my kitchen windows. I have seen hummers at the feeders at night - my lights in the kitchen shine out the window and I've seen a few in the dark. Very surprising to me at first.


    Bookmark   September 6, 2008 at 11:58PM
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The other night i went to my porch with hanging flower baskets. I was startled when i was hit in the head by a little bird. My plants are frequented by humming birds so it caused me to ask the question do they feed at night. i really think they do.

    Bookmark   August 7, 2010 at 9:04PM
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Bats also come out at night and could drain feeders although I cant say Ive seen any bats here. There are also hummingbird moths which you could mistake for a bird.

    Bookmark   August 8, 2010 at 11:38AM
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Well Deb, you may have finally pointed out an advantage to me of living in a city. No Racoons! But I had rather live in the country any day instead of a city apartment.

We have millions of Mexican Freetail bats here. They often fly around the lights on my apartment building catching insects at night. I expected to have them at my feeders, but never have seen any there.

Sorry to hear about your problem, I guess I'd take my feeders in at night if that happened here.

    Bookmark   August 12, 2010 at 7:49PM
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I .live in the suburbs of New Orleans. Just about every night around 10 I get two hummers feeding on my bridal wreath or bottle brush.

    Bookmark   August 12, 2011 at 9:14PM
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I've been feeding ruby throats for almost 30 years and have never seen one at night. I can set my clock each evening when the last one leaves. Why on earth would 30-50 birds all be gone at lets say 8:00 PM (not even one bird for the next 30 minutes) and then they come back well after dark? Makes no sense! Not even 30 seconds passes during the day when there are no birds. Why would they take a 3 hour break? I don't think they have night vision either. Anything that moves around here after dark is eaten by one of my owls. Maybe if a light is left on, the birds could feed for 24 hours.

    Bookmark   August 12, 2011 at 11:41PM
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I don't question there have been sightings of hummingbirds feeding in the dark. For the most part, hummingbirds sleep at night and go into a state called, "Torpor" to conserve their energy. Following is an excert from an article in an ornithological magazine explaining "Torpor" and how it relates to hummingbirds.

"Torpid hummingbirds exhibit a slumber that is as deep as death. In 1832, Alexander Wilson first described hummingbird torpor in his book, American Ornithology; "No motion of the lungs could be perceived ... the eyes were shut, and, when touched by the finger, [the bird] gave no signs of life or motion."

Awakening from torpor takes a hummingbird approximately 20 minutes. During arousal, heart and breathing rates increase and hummingbirds vibrate their wing muscles. Heat generated by vibrating muscles, or shivering, warms the blood supply. Shivering is sufficient to warm the hummingbird's body by several degrees each minute and the bird awakens with enough energy reserves to see him through to his first feeding bouts of the morning. Interestingly, hummingbirds reliably awaken from torpor one or two hours before dawn without any discernible cues from the environment. Thus, it appears that the bird's internal circadian clock triggers arousal."

    Bookmark   August 13, 2011 at 7:28AM
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To prevent raccoons from getting to our Purple Martins and Bluebirds, we use a piece of PVC pipe around our poles. Get at least a 4' length of 6" dia. PVC pipe. Insert your nectar pole inside the PVC. This should keep the raccoons from being able to climp up the PVC to get to your nectar. You can either purchase the PVC pipe at Lowes,Home Depot, etc, or you can go to a plumbing company and see if they have any scrap PVC pipe they will give you.

    Bookmark   August 13, 2011 at 10:48AM
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I have 4 hummingbird feeders hanging a hook around the my deck. Two of them were empty when I got home yesterday from work and then woke up this morning and the other two were empty. I do have a security light in the front yard so I am wondering if the birds feed all night? Any thoughts?

    Bookmark   July 15, 2014 at 11:53AM
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morz8(Washington Coast Z8b)

No, not likely, it's probably bats.

I've seen hummingbirds at my feeders several minutes after nightfall, like about 9:20 PM this time of year, but not later than that and my feeders all fall within the range of my yard lights.

They will come in the mornings about a half hour or so before dawn and before its actually light. They will fly at night during their migration, but rarely to feed. Something else is getting into your feeders.

    Bookmark   July 23, 2014 at 1:10PM
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ediej1209(5 N Central OH)

I found this forum just at the right time LOL! We had to take down one of our feeders because something was completely draining it every night. Very weird. Especially since we have 2 feeders on 2 different sides of the house, and it's only with one of them that this is happening. At first I was thinking it was a raccoon, but if it was, it was the most well-behaved raccoon in history because it did absolutely no damage beyond drinking all the nectar. But I never would have thought of bats. HMMM...

    Bookmark   July 23, 2014 at 1:38PM
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