Can Hummingbirds Walk, Amazing Things You Didn't Know About Hummingbird Anatomy

Can Hummingbirds Walk, Amazing Things You Didn't Know About Hummingbird Anatomy

Hummingbirds can't walk but can perch, scratch, fight, and build a nest with their feet. They can't walk because their legs are too short, their feet are too big for their bodies, and they don't have knees. On the bright side, this lets them instead sit or walk sideways on a branch.

Tiny hummingbirds are amazing to watch. Unfortunately, they are one of the few birds that can't just run away from predators. They depend on their outstanding aerodynamics for everything.

While they might not be able to walk, hummingbirds are well-known for their amazing power and control of their wings in flight and their ability to hover. This is how they survive in the wild.

People often think hummingbirds can't walk because their legs aren't strong enough to support their weight. The real problem is that hummingbirds aren't able to "walk" because their legs and feet are too small.

Feet Anatomy of a Hummingbird

A hummingbird's foot has three toes in the front and one toe in the back. The "hallux" is the name for this back toe. This number of digits is standard among birds that like to perch. Like a human's thumb, the hallux helps the animal hold onto things and keep its balance. 

This part doesn't help the hummingbird walk, but it does allow it to sit comfortably on a wire or branch. Their legs are very short, and their tiny feet are neatly tucked under their bodies when they fly.

Even though hummingbirds are in the group of birds called "Apodiformes," which means "footless" in Latin, they do have feet. Their feet are tiny. Because of evolution, these birds can fly well.

For What do Hummingbirds Use Their Legs and Feet?

Just because hummingbirds can’t use their feet to walk, that doesn’t mean that their feet doesn’t have a purpose. In fact, their feet are used for plenty of things including perching, scratching behind their ears, fighting for their territory, and making a nest.


Hummingbirds like to sit on things, and they do it a lot. Some birds will find a place to sit as often as once every 10 minutes. Most of the time, a hummingbird sits on a branch's end. They can see better because fewer leaves and other things are in the way. 

Hummingbirds are very careful about danger because they are so small. When they sit, they like to find a place with a clear view so they can watch out for trouble. This is why theyre always perched on a branch’s end.


These adorable hummingbirds also use their feet for scratching. Scratching isn't nearly as fun and enjoyable as perching, but it's essential for a hummingbird's health. If they get mites and can't scratch them off, they will go bald on the head. Once the mites are gone, it will take three weeks for the feathers to grow.

Since hummingbirds have short legs without knee joints, reaching the top of their heads is hard. So, the hummingbird uses an exciting move to get its neck, lead, and beak while preening. It does this by dropping its wing forward and bringing its leg back and over its wing. This shortens the distance the foot needs to reach. All this happens while the other portion keeps the hummingbird balanced on a tiny branch that moves in the wind.

Once they are done scratching, they will turn around and put their leg back under their wing. They will then keep both feet firmly on the branch or landing perch. They do this action over and over again throughout the day.


When a hummingbird is flying, its feet are either hanging below it or tucked neatly under its body. When protecting their food or nectar source, hummingbirds get mean and territorial. They will fight with their feet and beaks. Their long, sharp beak is their most obvious weapon, but they also use their feet to defend their territory or scare away a rival.

When two hummingbirds fight in the air, they use their feet to shield or grab the other bird. They move their tail feathers in and out to make themselves look bigger than they are and use their sharp bill to attack.

Shaping a Nest

Female hummingbirds not only use their feet to fight, they also use it to squeeze and shape their nests to fit two eggs about the size of coffee beans.

The nest of a mother hummingbird is a delicate, beautiful work of art. It is a robust and safe place for her young to grow up. As she builds her nest, she collects grasses, animal fur, cotton fiber, plant material, and small twigs to make a strong base.

She will go on many trips to find and gather materials for her nest. When she returns with the things she needs to build her nest in her beak, she will look around to ensure there are no dangers. Then, she will carefully place her supplies in a specific spot and stamp them down with her feet.

The female will build her nest bit by bit, layering her nesting materials and gluing them together with spider web silk. She will shape and mold her nest in between building stages by "hammering" it with her feet. She might look like she is dancing, but she is working hard to build her nest.

She will finish by gathering more spider web silk. She will use her beak to rub the outside of her nest to seal it and make it last longer. It might take five to seven days to build the nest itself.

As you can see, a hummingbird’s feet may be tiny, but they are absolutely essential to their survival. These tiny, adorable feet are very useful, and hummingbirds are smart enough to use them with purpose. 

Who We Are 

At QuackUps, we are committed to helping save the mystical, magical, tiny but mighty Hummingbirds! We specialize in providing essential products for hummingbirds so that these birds nest, play, survive, and feed their young in your yard.

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