life of a female hummingbird

A Surprising Life of a Female Hummingbird that Amazes Humans

Native to the Americas, hummingbirds are the smallest migratory birds and have a bunch of fascinating characteristics that make them super unique! These tiny feathered birds are named after the humming sound their fast-beating wings make. They are also the only birds on the planet that can fly backward! The tiny hummingbirds weigh less than a nickel and are yet powerful enough to migrate across lands, 500 miles at a time!

 A Surprising Life of a Female Hummingbird that Amazes Humans

Typically, the male and female birds of the same species come with a couple of differences - and hummingbirds are no exception. In this post, we’ll be talking about the life of a female hummingbird - but before we begin, let’s have a look at the differentiating factors between male and female hummingbirds:

Differences Between Male and Female Hummingbirds?

The key aspects in which the males and females vary are their size and color - let’s have a look at each of these factors:


Female hummingbirds are slightly larger as compared to their male counterparts. This is because the females have to bear and lay eggs. However, the difference in their weights is very less - one look, and you won’t be able to notice that the male and female birds are different in size! The average weight of hummingbirds is anything between 0.7 to 0.07 oz, and their maximum height is only 8 inches.


In terms of color, the male hummingbirds are brighter and more attractive than the females. So if you spot a hummingbird that features bright blue, pink, green, yellow, red, and many more shades, without any doubt, it is a male one. The whole purpose of the bright-colored feathers of the males is to make them more attractive during the breeding season.

The females are way paler, and feature brown, dark green, white and gray colors in their plumage. This helps them camouflage better, especially during nesting and incubation, keeping them safe from predators.


Male hummingbirds also have a bright patch of colored feathers on their chest, known as gorgets. The gorgets are used to attract females during the breeding season. However, female hummingbirds don’t have gorgets, which makes it easier for us to spot and recognize them.

Let’s hop on the life of the female hummingbird!

A Surprising Life of a Female Hummingbird that Amazes Humans

The Life of a Female Hummingbird

With the little bits of information we’ve gathered about female hummingbirds, the obvious thought that crosses our minds is - oh, how boring! But here’s the real deal - the life of female hummingbirds is way more interesting and active than their male counterparts! They may be less flamboyant and paler, but that’s not stopping them from living a colorful life!

Migrating Back Home

Female hummingbirds migrate home (to the Americas) for breeding and nesting. Before their migratory flight, these birds start gaining weight. The extra weight and fat help them cruise through their long journey with ease. Considering the tiny, nickel-sized birds they are, the journey of hummingbirds from miles away is indeed fascinating.

Building the Nest

Once the female hummingbirds are back home, the first thing they do (before the courtship period begins) is build a nest. The nest of hummingbirds is super tiny - almost the size of a bottle cap! The cozy nests are held together using pine resin or spider silk. Other materials that go into building the nest include small branches, lichens, and leaf litter to ensure the nest is nice and cozy.

 A Surprising Life of a Female Hummingbird that Amazes Humans

By the time the female hummingbird chooses her mate, she already has her nest all ready. The location of the nest varies, depending on the species of hummingbird. Some prefer building the nest closer to the ground, whereas others would build the nest high up on trees.

Courtship Period

The male hummingbirds go all out during the courtship period. All the flamboyant and bright-colored feathers help them attract potential females with whom they later mate. Females find dramatic male hummingbirds super attractive - songs, flutters, and dives are some of the things male hummingbirds indulge in to secure the attention of the females. Once the female chooses her mate, she doesn’t set out to share his territory but establishes her own home range.

Mating Season

During the mating season, the male hummingbirds mate with multiple females. However, the females may choose to mate with one or more male hummingbirds before laying eggs in the nest she built before the courtship period began. After the hummingbirds mate, the male hummingbird does not stay with the female to assist in the caretaking of the little one. Instead, the males often venture away, searching for another female to mate with.

Eggs of Hummingbirds

The average size of hummingbird eggs spans from 0.3 - 07 inches, depending on the species of hummingbird. The eggs are not bigger than a tic-tac or a coffee bean! Even though females keep a gap of around 48 hours between laying two eggs, both eggs hatch simultaneously. Therefore, female hummingbirds can tend only to two hummingbird chicks at a given time.

In very rare instances, hummingbirds lay one egg - but it rarely happens. The incubation period spans between 10-20 days and varies depending on the species of hummingbirds as well as different environmental factors.

Hatchlings of the Hummingbirds

When the hummingbird chicks hatch, they rely entirely on their mothers, as their eyes are shut, and they lack feathers. The altricial hatchlings are teeny - even smaller than the size of their eggs but are known to grow very fast. Male hummingbirds are typically more aggressive, but when it comes to protecting their nests, female hummingbirds are fierce and will defend the nest even against larger birds and creatures.

The baby hummingbirds stay in the nest for 22-27 days. Throughout this period, these birds rely on their mothers for food and regulation of body temperature. Their mother feeds them nectar and worms every two hours to ensure the proper growth of the hummingbird chicks. This continues until the babies turn 25 days old, leaving their nests to find their own food and fend for themselves. It is interesting to note that the hummingbird nest gradually expands to accommodate the growing baby hummers.

At about 15 days old, the babies begin their flying lessons and stand at the edge of their nest, buzzing their wings at high speed. Just a couple of days later, the baby birds fly off abruptly, one at a time, leaving the nest empty. Just as the little ones learn to make their way into the world by themselves, the female hummingbird starts to build another nest to raise another brood for the season!

Hummingbirds produce 2-3 broods annually, which keeps the females busy, occupied, and, needless to say, tired as well!

Reproductive Maturity and Average Life Span

Hummingbirds reach reproductive maturity when they’re a year old. The females immediately get to work, building nests and then heading out to look for potential mates. On the other hand, the males do all they can to attract as many females as possible to mate with them during the breeding season. The average lifespan of hummingbirds spans from 3-5 years.

Summing Up

Once the female hummingbirds are old enough to reproduce, they continue the same cycle as their mothers - migrating home, building a nest, looking for a potential partner, mating, and then tending to the little ones. We can safely say that female hummingbirds are way more hardworking as compared to their male counterparts and work tirelessly towards tending to their little ones and making sure they are safe and healthy.

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