A hummingbird’s heartbeat is incredibly fast, averaging around 1,260 beats per minute. To put that into perspective, a human heart typically beats between 60 and 100 times per minute.
Hummingbirds’ heart rate can increase even more when they are flying—up to 1,400 beats per minute! Amazingly, this high heart rate doesn’t seem to put too much strain on the hummingbird’s body, and they can maintain it for long periods of time. So, how do they do it?
Well, part of the answer lies in their anatomy. A hummingbird’s heart is relatively large for its size, making up about 4% of its total body weight.
Additionally, their hearts have special adaptations that help them pump blood more efficiently. For example, they have extra muscles in their chest that help them compress their breastbone and push blood out to the rest of their body.
All of these factors work together to give hummingbirds one of the fastest heartbeats of any animal on the planet!
Which Bird Has The Highest Heart Rate?
Take a guess! The answer may surprise you. It’s not the tiny hummingbird, but rather, the ostrich! A hummingbird’s heart beats approximately 1,260 times per minute, while an ostrich’s heart rate can get up to 500 beats per minute.
But how fast is a hummingbird’s heartbeat in comparison to other animals? To get a sense of how fast hummingbird hearts beat, let’s look at the top 10 animals with the highest heart rates.
- Brown Hare – 300 bpm
- Squirrel – 350 bpm
- Cheetah – 420 bpm
- Pigeon – 430 bpm
- Bluejay – 440 bpm
- Elk –452 bpm
- White-tailed Deer – 460 bpm
- Donkey – 470 bpm
- Rhino – 485 bpm
- Ostrich – 500 bpm
As you can see, the hummingbird isn’t too far off from the top spot. But how does such a small bird have such a high heart rate? One of the reasons for the hummingbird’s high heart rate is that they need to eat constantly.
What Is The Heart Rate Of A Hummingbird?
The heart rate of a hummingbird is approximately 1,260 beats per minute. This means that the hummingbird’s heart beats about 21 times per second!
To put this into perspective, the average human heart rate is 60-100 beats per minute, which is just 1-1.5 beats per second. So, while a hummingbird’s heart rate is very impressive, it’s nothing compared to some other animals on this list.
One of the reasons for the hummingbird’s high heart rate is that they need to eat constantly. Hummingbirds are mostly found in the Americas, and they feed on nectar from flowers.
In order to get enough energy, they need to eat about half their body weight in nectar every day!
Another reason for the hummingbird’s high heart rate is that they have a very high metabolism. Their wings flap so fast that they create a lot of heat, and they need to keep their bodies at a constant temperature.
So, how fast is a hummingbird’s heartbeat? Pretty fast! But what’s even more impressive is how these little birds can keep up that high heart rate day after day.
Hummingbird Hearts and Heart Rate?
To find an answer and even more interesting facts, how about we take a look at how hummingbird hearts work? The size of a hummingbird’s heart is almost one-fourth the size of its entire body.
A hummingbird’s heart will pump or circulate more blood per heartbeat than any other animal in the world. While a human being has a heartbeat of 60-80 times per minute, a hummingbird’s heartbeat is around 1,260 times per minute. When they are resting, their heartbeat can go down to 400 times per minute.
The heart of a hummingbird is so powerful that it will make the bird’s entire body vibrate. The main job of the hummingbird’s heart is to make sure that the hummingbird’s brain and muscles get enough oxygen while they are in flight.
While flying, a hummingbird will take in oxygen and at the same time get rid of carbon dioxide. The carbon dioxide will go through the bird’s lungs and then diffuses into the air sacs.
Why Does A Hummingbird’s Heart Beat So Fast?
The little bird’s high-octane lifestyle is one reason for the heart-pumping action. As Shewey notes, “In terms of the metabolic rate per unit body mass, hummingbirds are the most active creatures on Earth, surpassing even bats and shrews.”
Their metabolisms burn fuel so quickly that they must eat constantly to maintain their energy levels—hence those visits to your feeder every 10 to 15 minutes.
Another reason for the high heart rate is that, unlike most birds, hummingbirds can fly both forward and backward and hover in midair. That mobility requires a lot of power, which in turn demands a lot of oxygen to fuel the tiny creature’s muscles.
To get that oxygen, hummingbirds have specially adapted lungs and a circulatory system that delivers oxygen-rich blood to their muscles faster than any other bird.
All that activity takes its toll on a hummingbird’s heart. In fact, according to The Hummingbird Handbook, “a hummingbird heart will beat some 10 billion times over the course of its lifetime, more than any other vertebrate.” And all those wingbeats add up: A hummingbird in full flight can flap its wings up to 80 times per second.
What Is Torpor?
Torpor is a state that hummingbirds enter when they don’t have enough food or when the temperature starts to drop at night. When this happens, their metabolism will slow down and their body temperature can drop as much as 30 to 40 degrees Fahrenheit (4.44 °C).
Their heart rate can also slow down to around 50 beats per minute, and they will enter a state of semi-hibernation. During the night or when the temperature outside drops, a hummingbird’s metabolism will also slow down.
To help them get through these periods, they will enter into a state of torpor. In this state, their body temperature and heart rate will also drop significantly. In fact, their heart rate can drop to as low as 50 beats per minute.
Torpor allows them to save energy and survive these periods when food is scarce or the weather is not conducive to flying.
How Does Torpor Affect Hummingbird Heart Rate?
During their nightly torpor, hummingbirds will enter into a state of mini-hibernation. In this state, they will drop their heart rate and temperature to conserve energy.
As mentioned before, in this state, hummingbirds will usually have a heart rate that’s between 50 and 250 beats per minute. This is a drastic decrease from their average heart rate of around 1,260 beats per minute.
However, even though their heart rate is much lower during torpor, it’s still beating much faster than a human heart. In fact, the average human heart only beats around 60 to 100 times per minute.
This means that even when a hummingbird is resting, its heart is still beating more than twice as fast as a human heart.
How can a bird keep its metabolism so high, and how does that relate to its heart rate? The answer lies in how hummingbirds extract energy from the food they consume.
Most animals, including humans, extract ATP from the glucose in their food through a process called aerobic respiration. This process requires oxygen and takes place in the mitochondria, organelles in our cells that are sometimes referred to as the cell’s powerhouse.
However, hummingbirds extract ATP from glucose anaerobically. This means that they don’t need oxygen to do it, and it takes place outside the mitochondria. The process is called glycolysis.
While glycolysis is less efficient than aerobic respiration, it has the advantage of being much faster. In other words, hummingbirds can extract energy from their food more quickly and use it more quickly than other animals.
To put that in perspective, a hummingbird’s heart rate is about 10 times faster than a human’s heart rate and about 100 times faster than a turtle’s heart rate. In fact, hummingbirds have the fastest heartbeat of any animal on Earth.
As you can see, hummingbirds have an incredibly fast heartbeat. This is due to their high metabolism and the need to extract energy from their food quickly.
While their heart rate can slow down during periods of torpor, it’s still much faster than a human heart. So the next time you see a hummingbird, take a moment to appreciate how amazing these creatures are!