Do Hummingbird Couples Stay Together?

Hummingbird Romance and Mating Rituals

Do Hummingbird Couples Stay Together?

“Do hummingbird couples stay together forever?”

If you’re a romantic hummingbird lover, you might not like the answer to this question.  

Hummingbirds do not form long-term pair bonds like some bird species do. They’re generally considered to be solitary birds, especially outside of the breeding season. 

Here's a brief overview of the entirely unromantic mating behaviour of hummingbirds.

Do hummingbird couples stay together? No, they don’t.


When it's time to mate, male hummingbirds will perform aerial displays to attract females. 

These displays can be quite elaborate, with dives, chases, and other maneuvers designed to impress potential mates.



Once the female selects a mate, the actual mating process is brief. 

After mating, the male and female go their separate ways. Unlike crows, who mate for life, hummingbirds are just not that interested in marital bliss. 

It's also worth noting that male hummingbirds might mate with multiple females in a single breeding season. Females, on the other hand, typically have one brood per season, but in some favourable conditions, they might have more than one. (+)


The female is solely responsible for building the nest, incubating the eggs, and feeding and raising the chicks. 

Interestingly, the female hummingbirds build their nests before the courtship and mating process begins. The male does not participate in these activities. No trips to Ikea or hemming and hawing about which area rug is just the perfect match for the new sofa!


After the breeding season, males and females go about their lives independently. 

They don't maintain a bond or stick together. While this might sound a little cold, it’s important to note that there are usually survival-based reasons for everything birds do. 

While hummingbirds come together briefly for the purposes of mating, they do not form long-term partnerships or "stay together" as couples.


After mating, the male and female go their separate ways. Unlike crows, who mate for life, hummingbirds are just not that interested in marital bliss.
 Hummingbird Prints: Fine Art Photography by June Hunter

Why don’t hummingbird couples mate for life?

Hummingbirds live a life full of urgency and energy. 

Their rapid metabolisms and the constant need to feed means they're always on the move, and forming long-term partnerships isn't on their to-do list. Biologically speaking, there's no significant advantage for hummingbirds to form lifelong bonds. Their main priorities are feeding and reproducing. 

By not forming long-term bonds, males can mate with multiple females during a mating season, maximizing their reproductive success. 

On the other hand, females take on the task of nest-building and chick-rearing independently. Unlike crows and ravens who work together to raise a family and mate for life, hummingbirds are independent little creatures. 

Probably if you lived your life as speedily as a hummingbird, you wouldn’t have a long-term relationship either! 

Hummingbirds live a life full of urgency and energy.
Hummingbird Prints: Fine Art Photography by June Hunter

How long do hummingbird couples stay together?

Hummingbird couples don’t stay together for long. 

Hummingbirds come together primarily for mating. After the courtship dances and the mating itself, the male and female part ways. Their interaction is brief, and they don't establish long-term bonds or partnerships. 

Think of it as a quick, intense fling, and then it's back to their solo adventures. 

How long does mating take for hummingbirds?

Mating doesn’t take long for hummingbirds, lasting only 3-5 seconds. 

It’s a fleeting moment in the midst of their fast-paced lives. And while you might be excused for thinking that hummingbirds mate in the air, they actually do it while perched on branches. If a female hummingbird has decided that a male is an appropriate sperm donor, she’ll land on a branch and wait for the male to mount. 

The male hummingbird has a cloaca, which he presses against the female’s cloaca.

The cloaca is a multifunctional opening found in many vertebrates, including birds like hummingbirds. In birds, the cloaca is part of the excretory and reproductive systems.

Birds don't have external reproductive organs like many mammals. 

Instead, both males and females have a cloaca. During mating, the male and female cloacas come into contact in what's termed a "cloacal kiss." This allows the male to transfer sperm to the female.


Hummingbird couples don’t stay together for long.
Hummingbird Prints: Fine Art Photography by June Hunter

What is the hummingbird mating process?

The hummingbird mating process is a spectacle. 

It begins with the male performing intricate aerial displays to attract a female. These displays can involve darting up into the sky, diving down at incredibly fast speeds, and showing off his iridescent throat feathers. These arial antics are designed to impress the potential mate. 

Some hummingbird species have specific flight patterns or songs to woo the females. 

Once the female hummingbird is suitably impressed, she'll signal her acceptance. After the swift mating act, the two go their separate ways. 


Some hummingbird species have specific flight patterns or songs to woo the females.
 Hummingbird Prints: Fine Art Photography by June Hunter

How long do hummingbirds live?

Hummingbirds have relatively short lifespans.

Many hummingbirds don't live past their first year due to a variety of challenges including inclement weather, predation, and window strikes. However, those that do survive their first year on earth generally live from 3 to 5 years in the wild.

There are some hummingbird outliers that may live as long as ten years, but that’s not the norm.

It's worth noting that these lifespans are typical of many small bird species, not just hummingbirds. Small size often comes with increased vulnerability to predators, accidents, and environmental challenges. But while their lives might be brief, hummingbirds make the most of them with dazzling displays and seemingly ceaseless energy. (+)

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This article was written by Colette Nichol based on an interview with crow and raven photographer and nature enthusiast June Hunter. Our aim with these articles is to bring interesting bird facts, nature-inspired home décor info, and framing tips to more online readers while also highlighting June Hunter's photography and designs. To read June Hunter's popular blog the Urban Nature Enthusiast, where she shares stories about crows and ravens, please click HERE.


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