How Long Do Hummingbirds Live?

Learn the lifespan of hummingbirds, and discover how long hummingbirds can live in the wild and in captivity at zoos.

costa's hummingbirdCourtesy Hayley Crews
Costa’s hummingbird during fall in Phoenix, Arizona

“Two kinds of hummingbirds visit our yard: black-chinned hummingbirds and Costa’s hummingbirds. One is a young male Costa’s whose throat patch is just beginning to show. I always wonder how old he is. What is the lifespan of a hummingbird?” writes Terry Burkhart of Landers, California.

These tiny creatures don’t live long. Based on banding studies, 7 or 8 years is a ripe old age for most hummingbirds in the wild. Ruby-throated hummingbirds have lived 9 years. And one banded female broad-tailed hummingbird in Colorado made it to age 12.

A zoo that’s properly set up to care for these birds may stretch longevity. Two black-chinned hummingbirds at the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum in Tucson lived to 13 or 14 years old. We don’t have much information on the Costa’s hummingbird. But a male with his gorget (throat patch) just developing would be a little less than 1 year old.

Next, discover the truth about common hummingbird myths.

Kenn and Kimberly Kaufman
Kenn and Kimberly are the official Birds & Blooms bird experts. They are the duo behind the Kaufman Field Guide series. They speak and lead bird trips all over the world. When they're not traveling, they enjoy watching birds and other wildlife in their Northwest Ohio backyard.