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Why Do Hummingbirds Hover Right in Your Face?

Why Do Hummingbirds Hover Right in Your Face?

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Hummingbirds are quite beautiful, and it is of little wonder that bird lovers enjoy attracting them into their space. With a multitude of bright, vibrant colors, they can stand out in a crowd to say the least.

From time to time, though, they can wind up hovering right near your face. But why do they do this? Is there a specific reason for it or are they simply just fluttering near eye level out of coincidence? To understand this, we need to better understand the hummingbird in general.

Why Do Hummingbirds Fly Near Your Face?

Hummingbird Flapping Its Wings Mid Flight

There are actually a few reasons why a hummingbird would fly near a person’s face. The most typical is that they are just naturally inquisitive. They are investigating you or are just curious to learn more about you.

Hummingbirds are actually quite inquisitive when it comes to their surroundings. They are quite safe and cautious, basically trying to see if you are a harm to them. They can also recognize their surroundings and can come to expect food from you if you keep feeders in your yard.

Hummingbirds actually have pretty good memories to not only retain but recall patterns about a specific area or territory. Moreover, they tend to be attracted to things that seem out of place or are entirely new.

These new things (or people, in this instance) grab their attention. Their natural curiosity is piqued and they will zip over to find out more about who you are and what you are doing.

Basically, the hummingbird gets so close because it is figuring out if you might be of harm to it or it is at least trying to get a better concept of you. But that’s a simplistic explanation.

Hummingbirds and Their Natural Inquisition

Closeup of Hummingbird Feeding From Red Flowers in the Garden

As stated above, hummingbirds are pretty curious to begin with. Whenever they enter an unfamiliar area, they will check their surroundings for a few things. They are looking for a good source of food and making sure that there are no predators in the area.

Hummingbirds look for strong nectar-producing plants that can provide them with the sustenance that they need (which is why they love sugary things that people leave out). Like most other creatures, they are simply seeking safety and a consistent food source.

Above all else, hummingbirds are attracted to the color red. Those wanting to attract hummingbirds to the area should start with red flowers that produce strong levels of nectar.

That red base should be enough to at least attract them to the area, if not get them to stay.

Use a red base on your birdhouse. That red base creates an obvious beacon to attract the hummingbirds. Not only that, but it provides a greater level of ease for the hummingbirds to find an alternate food supply.

If you wear something red, don’t be surprised if a hummingbird decides to hover right by your face to give you a once over. Seriously, they love red and it will almost certainly attract hummingbirds if you have red flowers or a red birdhouse in your yard.

Red may be their favorite color, but it isn’t the only one they gravitate toward. Purple and pink flowers tend to be quite attractive to them as well. Basically, any kind of variety or variation on fuchsia, salmon, and lilac will make for quite an attraction for the hummingbirds.

The good news is that there is nothing to worry about if they hover near your face. Hummingbirds, aside from an errant peck, are of absolutely no danger to humans.

So, if you see a hummingbird coming toward you or floating near your face, don’t worry. They just want to know if you are a threat to them or if you might have something sweet for them to enjoy.

It Usually Comes Down to Food

Male Ruby Throated Hummingbird Flying Toward Cap of Nectar in Hand

At the end of the day, if you see a hummingbird, the most realistic explanation is that it is just looking for food sources. This is generally in the form of blooming flowers, but it also recognizes colorful birdhouses and will inspect them for the possibility of food.

They are known as quick aviators, so they expend a ton of energy flapping their wings so often. Simply navigating their airspace is enough to deplete those energy levels rather quickly. So, they need that sugary nectar to replenish those energy levels.

Hummingbirds spend the vast majority of their lives looking for and consuming food for their basic energy and survival needs. In that constant search for food, they will scope out, observe, and even memorize the variety of flowers from their natural territory.

What’s even more incredible is that hummingbirds can sometimes visit between 1,000 and 2,000 flowers in a single day searching for food. This is because of their rapid metabolism. They need to eat every 10 minutes to keep up with all the energy that their small bodies burn off.

If that wasn’t a good enough indication of the strength of their memory, listen to this. When they migrate either south or north, they can actually remember nectar locations that are convenient to their path.

Because of the tremendous amount of energy that they burn off during migration, they need to feed right away and memorizing those nectar locations is how they restore their energy reserves so quickly.

Those that don’t actually migrate will use their memory to remember feeding sites. If that weren’t impressive enough, they also remember roughly how long it takes them to reach those feeding sites.

When the weather turns frigid, efficiency is important, and the impressive memories of hummingbirds can help them get to food as quickly as possible.

Yards with bird feeders that are clean and refreshed regularly can help provide them with a reliable feeding site. Hummingbirds can confidently flock to the birdhouse to meet their nutritional and caloric intake, preserving their beauty, prosperity, and welfare.

Can Hummingbirds Recognize Certain Humans?

Green Hummingbird With White Belly Laying in Person's Hand

Given that hummingbirds have tremendous memories, it only bears asking: can they remember certain humans? Will they recognize you if they flock to your yard on a regular basis to make use of your birdhouse and the nourishment that it provides?

It turns out that hummingbirds are among the smartest of avian species that we know. Despite their naturally small stature, the hippocampus of the hummingbird is actually five times bigger than the much larger songbird.

Their hippocampus is also embedded quite deeply within their temporal lobe. Because of this structural difference, their brains are not only capable of establishing memory, but learning as well. There are very few birds out there that have even comparable levels of learning and intelligence.

Another important thing to remember is that they are also hypervigilant in the observation of both food sources and potential predators in an area. They will thoroughly examine the area to gather as much information as they can about the environment.

That means they recognize, almost instantly, who is behind refilling the bird feeders that provide them nourishment.

If you are feeding hummingbirds in your yard regularly, they will become very familiar with you and your recurring presence. Even better, they will be quite excited and anticipate your arrival to refill the feeders.

There has been comprehensive research showing that hummingbirds, along with some other species of bird, can recognize humans that provide them with food on a regular basis. They are not only able to identify these people, but also distinguish the differences between someone who feeds them and a threatening predator.

They do this by making auditory and visual differentiation of individuals. Hummingbirds can not only become familiar with your voice but will recognize your routine and any repeated actions that you take (such as refilling their feeder).

Over time, they will become comfortable having you around rather than being uncertain whether or not you are a predator.

Are Hummingbirds Dangerous?

Ruby Throated Hummingbird Calling Out While Perched on Branch

The chances that a hummingbird hurts a human are extremely rare. The most likely scenario is that, if a hummingbird feels threatened, they will flee rather than fight. Given their stature, there aren’t a whole lot of predators that they could stand up to in a fight.

There is always a small chance of a hummingbird attack. Really, the only times that a human may potentially be threatened by a hummingbird is if they are in the middle of a particularly aggressive territorial dispute between two hummingbirds.

The only other case is where a mother is protecting her young or perhaps a particularly aggressive courtship ritual.

Hummingbirds are far more dangerous to one another, primarily when it comes to food. They can become extremely aggressive and territorial in an effort to protect their food supply.

Their beaks are quite sharp and, during a fight to the death against an encroacher, will stab at their opponent. In particularly aggressive courting rituals, they will use both claws and beak to stab at the other male in hopes of winning the affections of the female.

Hummingbirds spend the majority of their lives trying to feed themselves. The other thing that they do is procreate. Despite this, when the female is impregnated, she is then the only caregiver for the young until they hit three weeks old, then they are on their own.

Mother hummingbirds defending their young can get to be quite aggressive, even to normally friendly humans. They will see just about anything as a threat to their young, whether it be human or another type of bird.

How to Decrease Aggression in Hummingbirds

Pair of Bright Green Hummingbirds Foraging for Nectar

If, for whatever reason, you see a hummingbird being particularly aggressive – either to you or your pets – there are a few different things that you can do to keep them at bay. You can actually lower their aggression levels and keep them from swarming and buzzing around you and your pets.

A good starting place is to space out any feeders that are in your yard. There is a chance that there are several different hummingbirds all vying for the same space. Because of their proclivity for food, they can become very aggressive in its pursuit.

Space out the feeders to decrease the chances of interaction between the hummingbirds. It not only gives the chance for the hummingbird to simply take up space at another feeder, it increases the actual physical challenge behind aggressively bullying one another.

That extra space needed to zip from feeder to feeder will rapidly expend their energy. The less energy they have, the more they focus on the consumption of their food to replenish those energy stores.

The lower energy levels mean the less aggressive that they are, particularly when there are other birds in the area.

Try to not only provide more feeders in the area but rotate them as well. The larger the number of feeders, the more mouths you are able to accommodate.

More feeders also mean fewer bullies in the area angling to gain control of the food supply.

If there are aggressive males competing for the attention of a female, there is not much that you can do. Stay clear and let them hash out their beef because they may aggressively buzz at you if you try to get in the way.

Sometimes nature simply has to run its course, primarily where mating is concerned. When the dispute over the female has resolved itself, the hummingbirds are far less aggressive and prone to attack anyone who gets in their way.

Hummingbirds Are Mostly Just Hungry

So, now that you know the habits of hummingbirds, you can feel comfortable (for the most part) when you see a hummingbird floating around nearby. They are more afraid of you than you are of them and are just making sure that you mean them no harm.

You can make plenty of hummingbird friends by placing feeders in your yard and filling them on a consistent basis. The birds will recognize you – bright colors help, too – and will come back again and again to see what goodies you have brought them.


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Gregory Means

Friday 1st of July 2022

I have a family of 3 birds feeding my feeder and do I need more than one feeder?


Sunday 3rd of September 2023

@Gregory Means, I have been feeding hummingbirds for years already and have 10 birds last year, but sometimes I can count 20, because migrating hummers often stay for a few days. Now, I've been counting up to 20 birds often, so I hope they stay. One tiny bird stays outside our front door and is always there where we have two feeders on trees sitting until we can plant them. These birds dispersed onto the golf course during the hot Az. summer, but as the weather cools a bit they are not hanging out here once again. I have about 16 feeders for them and fill the feeders usually about twice each week. They just love it when you fill their feeders!!!