Did you know that the heart rate of the world’s smallest Hummingbird is a staggering 1,200 beats per minute? With a full day of collecting nectar from flowers, these busy bees need a lot of energy to keep up with their high metabolisms!
Did you know that Hummingbirds have the highest metabolic rate of any creature (besides bugs) on the planet? These tiny birds need a lot of energy to fly at such high speeds, and their heart rate and elevated body temperature help them keep energy levels high as they fly from flower to flower.
On average, a Hummingbird’s resting heart rate is around 460 times per second! That’s pretty fast. To put that into perspective, the resting heart rate of a human is about 60 to 100 beats per minute.
However, different species of Hummingbirds, as well as climates, habitats, and behavior cause their heart rate to fluctuate. For instance, smaller species of Hummingbirds, such as the Bee Hummingbird, have a heart rate that is much faster than, say, the Giant Hummingbird or even the Ruby-Throated Hummingbirds.
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Conditions That Affect Hummingbird Heart Rate
What’s interesting about the heart rate of a Hummingbird is that it isn’t always so fast. During the breeding and blooming seasons, they need an extraordinary amount of energy to keep up with their dietary demands. However, a few factors can cause their heart rates to rise or lower.
Hummingbirds in flight reach the highest heart rate as their hearts furiously send blood throughout their bodies to maintain high energy levels. For Hummingbirds that don’t migrate, their heart rates drop so low they enter a hibernation-like state. Let’s dive into the different things that affect a Hummingbird’s heart rate.
Some North American Hummingbirds that live in cooler climates in Alaska and subsequently will enter a state of torpor. Torpor is a state where everything in a Hummingbird slows down to conserve energy when food sources, such as fructose, aren’t as plentiful. Their wings beat slower, their metabolism slows, and their heart rate drops.
For Hummingbirds that don’t migrate, such as Anna’s Hummingbird, it means that they need to enter a hibernation-like state to conserve energy and body heat. While they don’t find a cave to sleep in for the winter like bears, their tiny bodies lower their heart rates to conserve energy. With an incredibly high metabolism, they must enter a state of torpor to prevent starving through the night.
The Blue-Throated Hummingbird, for instance, lives in the desert regions of Arizona, Texas, and Mexico, where temperatures can get pretty cold. Since they don’t migrate, they enter a hibernation-like state called torpor that drops their heart rate to a surprisingly low 50-180 BPM. Sometimes, it’s even lower than a human’s resting heart rate!
Flight Speed and Feeding
Did you know that the Hummingbird has the largest heart in the animal kingdom compared to their body size and body mass? During normal flight, their hearts must beat increasingly fast to send blood coursing through their capillaries. During these periods of time, the Hummingbird’s heart beats the fastest. However, after perching on a branch, their heart rate slows slightly, but it’s still pretty fast.
Even when drinking nectar from your bird feeders, hummingbirds exert a lot of energy. The Rufous Hummingbird, for instance, uses its Hummingbird tongue to draw nectar from a feeder or flower. Their long, forked tongue dart in and out of a flower up to 20 times per second!
Highest Recorded Hummingbird Heart Rate
The fastest heart rate of any species of Hummingbird is the Bee Hummingbird. As the smallest bird on the planet, it has a stunningly rapid heart rate. During the flight, the heart rate of the Bee Hummingbird reaches up to 1,200 beats per minute!
Their Hummingbird metabolism is very high, and they must eat at least every 15 minutes! Due to their frequent feeding habits and tiny bodies (they weigh less than an American penny!), their tiny bird hearts must beat incredibly fast to keep up with their basic needs.
Why Do Hummingbird Hearts Beat So Fast?
Hummingbirds are fascinating tiny birds in more ways than one. They have the highest metabolisms of any creature on Earth, meaning that their tiny hearts must beat incredibly fast to keep up with the demand. During the breeding season, the average hummingbird eats about half of its body weight per day. Can you imagine eating half of your body weight in food daily? Due to their high metabolism, their heart must beat incredibly fast.
It’s important to remember that their hearts don’t beat that fast all of the time. Hummingbirds that live in cooler climates often enter a phase of torpor where their heart rate drops significantly to conserve energy and retain body heat. It’s another reason the Hummingbird is one of the planet’s most fascinating little creatures!