Graphic of hummingbirds in love

Hummingbird Sex — XXX Rated

Hummingbird mating is a lot like other bird mating rituals with a few quirks based on the size and limitations of hummingbirds. Since hummingbirds can't walk or hop, the hummingbird nesting season and hummingbird mating details are a bit different than that of other birds.

Hummingbird Foreplay

Males go to serious lengths to impress females.
A male hummingbird will dance and sing.
Males perform a 'courtship dive,' flying up to 60 feet in the air and then suddenly arc and head straight down toward the female
When the male is within inches of her head, he'll pull up, and fly back to 60 feet and start all over again

  It's Time To 'Get In The Mood'!

Ruby-throated hummingbird in flight Hummingbird nesting season and mating season begins in early spring. In mid to late March, hummingbirds return from their southern winter migration.

Males of most hummingbird species typically return north 1 to 2 weeks ahead of females to scout out and establish their mating territory. Mating grounds are chosen for the prevalence of food sources, most important among them nectar-yielding flowers.

Although hummingbird migration is not well documented by large numbers of banding records, we do know a few facts, and we can draw logical inferences about some of the unknown areas. (banding means trapping a bird and wrapping a tiny numbered strip of aluminum around one leg).

  There's No Place Like Home

Female hummingbird building her nest.

Female hummingbirds build their nests before mating, a process that takes less than a week. They generally use strands of spider web as a base to attach the nest to a branch or, less frequently, to a leaf or a rock crevice. Once complete, the nest is insulated, lined with thistle down, dandelion, or other soft plant materials. Exteriors are often decorated with lichens, which help camouflage the nest.

  Protecting Your Turf

Male hummingbirds defend their mating territory. They aggressively drive away other males with typical hummingbird aggression during the hummingbird mating season. The male may spread his tail or ruffle his feathers in order to look larger. Most birds also use loud noises or the display dive to send away the intruder male.

  Putting Your Breast Plumage Forward

Hummingbird courtship flight

Once the female hummingbirds arrive, the males begin the process of attracting their mates. The main component of the ritual is energetic and showy flight. Besides looping and zigzag patterns, males will fly anywhere from 50 to 150 feet up into the air, then plummet straight down to the ground, pulling up just before impact.

Other displays male hummingbirds engage in to win a mate include singing, showing off their feathers, especially in the sunlight, and flapping their wings as fast as possible to create the loudest humming sound they can.

  Females Are Choosey

It is the female who chooses her mate in all species. Male hummingbirds are aggressive in attracting females. Sometimes the female leads the male to the spot where she has constructed her nest. The male will emit loud courtship calls or start the courtship display.

She usually shows her interest by pointing her bill at him. But when she isn't interested or ready, the female flies away.

  Sex In Mid-Air?

It makes sense that hummingbirds would mate midair -- they do everything else in the air, and their legs are all but useless. They could probably pull it off, too, what with their ability to hover. But do these birds actually copulate in flight?

Hummingbird nest with chicks

When a male hummingbird is courting a female, after he performs some aerial moves to show her how strong, controlled and just generally fantastic he is, the female may join the show. On occasion, if the female enjoys the show, she'll starting moving in the air with him. This can sometimes look like they're actually mating in the air because they can get very close. In fact, hummingbirds often get right up in each other's faces.

Hummingbird sex only lasts from 3 to 5 seconds. As male hummingbirds have no external penis, no actual penetration takes place. Instead, the male presses his cloaca (posterior opening) against the female's, and sperm is passed along to fertilize the female's eggs.

Male hummingbirds will do a sort of "dance off" when fighting over territory, and several hummingbirds will get together to chase off an outsider.

Appearances aside, hummingbirds don't actually mate in midair. Their legs may not be able to walk or bounce, but they can perch. Hummingbirds are able to stand on branches, and that's where they copulate. After a female accepts a talented suitor, she'll perch on a branch and wait for the male to mount her from behind.

  He Doesn't Call, He Doesn't Write

About 4 seconds later, the mated pair leaves each other and never looks back. The male goes to look for another female to mate with, and the female goes off to build a nest.


Articles On

Bees flying footer graphic