hummingbirds eating nectar

What do Hummingbirds Eat?

Most people are familiar with hummingbirds. These little creatures are known for their amazing flying abilities and their gentle humming noise.

But there is one thing that many people don’t know about hummingbirds: what they eat.

Surprisingly, the diet of a hummingbird is quite diverse! Let’s take a closer look at what these fascinating creatures feast on.

Hummingbird eating nectar from flower
Hummingbird taking nectar

Nectar from Flowers 

Hummingbirds are drawn to the sweet scent of nectar, and they use their long beaks and tongues to lap up the sugary liquid. 

While drinking nectar provides hummingbirds with a much-needed energy boost, it also helps them spread pollen from one flower to another. 

In fact, hummingbirds are so effective at pollinating flowers that some plants have evolved to produce colorful petals and conspicuous nectar bowls specifically to attract them. 

The Best Flowers for Hummingbirds

what do hummingbirds eat?

One of the best flowers for hummingbirds is the trumpet creeper (Campsis radicans), which is a native North American species. 

Another good option is the scarlet gilia (Ipomopsis aggregata), a flowering plant that produces clusters of bright red or orange blooms. 

Other hummingbird-friendly flowers include bee balms (Monarda spp.), columbines (Aquilegia spp.), and Cardinal flowers (Lobelia cardinalis). 


The vast majority of a hummingbird’s diet is composed of insects. In fact, it is estimated that as much as 80% of a hummingbird’s diet consists of insects.

The rest of their diet is made up of nectar from flowers. While adult hummingbirds will consume nectar, the primary source of food for young hummingbirds is insects. 

One study found that a single hummingbird can consume upwards of 8 pounds (3.6 kg) of insects per year! To put that into perspective, that would be like a human eating approximately 400 hamburgers in a year. 

While the thought of 400 hamburgers in a year might make you feel sick to your stomach, don’t worry – hummingbirds don’t actually consume that many calories from insects.

A large portion of the insects they eat are winged ants and bees which are quite high in protein but relatively low in fat and calories. 

Tree Sap 

Another food that you might not expect hummingbirds to eat is tree sap. If a tree has a wound or broken branch, it can release sap from the injury.

Hummingbirds have been known to drink this sap, which provides them with a sugar rush similar to the one they get from nectar.

However, too much tree sap can be dangerous for hummingbirds, so they only consume it in moderation. 

As you can see, the diet of a hummingbird is quite diverse! They primarily consume nectar from flowers, but they will also eat insects and tree sap if necessary.

The next time you see a hummingbird, take a moment to appreciate all the different foods that it has consumed just to stay alive!

Hummingbird drinking from feeder
Humingbird drinking sugar water

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the hummingbird’s favorite food?

The hummingbird’s favorite food is nectar from flowers. This sweet liquid provides them with a much-needed energy boost and helps them spread pollen from one flower to another.

Is tap water OK for hummingbirds?

Tap water is generally ok for hummingbirds, but use spring water if possible.

Is sugar water harmful to hummingbirds?

Sugar water is not harmful to hummingbirds, but it is not as nutritious as their natural diet.

What should you not feed hummingbirds?

You should not feed hummingbirds anything other than nectar from flowers, insects, or tree sap.

How many years does a hummingbird live?

The average lifespan of a hummingbird is 3-5 years. However, some hummingbirds have been known to live up to 12 years in captivity.

What time of day do hummingbirds come to feeders?

Hummingbirds typically visit feeders multiple times throughout the day, with the most activity occurring in the morning and evening. However, they will also visit feeders during the day if there is food available.

Do hummingbirds eat fruit?

While hummingbirds may occasionally eat juicy types of fruit, it is not a significant part of their diet. Instead, they prefer to eat nectar from flowers, insects, and tree sap.

You might also like:

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Zeen is a next generation WordPress theme. It’s powerful, beautifully designed and comes with everything you need to engage your visitors and increase conversions.