If you have ever seen a hummingbird, you have surely been fascinated by the tiny birds flashing so many colors. These birds are found only in North and South America.
These birds have many unique qualities that set them apart from other birds.
Let’s take a closer look at these fascinating birds and their behaviors.
Interesting Hummingbird Facts:
How did hummingbirds get its name? Why “Hummingbirds”?
Hummingbirds get their name from the soft humming sound that they emit when they flap their wings. It is kind of like the soft buzz of an insect that flies by.
Hummingbirds body facts:
- Have you ever noticed the brilliant colours of a hummingbird’s throat? Well, this colour is not because of coloured feathers. The throats of hummingbirds get their colour from a property called iridescence which means that the colour is influenced by light, moisture content, angle of viewing and quality of feathers.
- Hummingbirds have evolved such that they have very small feet. This helps in efficient flight but means that these birds cannot walk or hop on their feet. They can perch and walk sideways.
- Hummingbirds have the fewest number of feathers of any bird. They have only 1,000 to 1,500 feathers so that they are not too heavy to fly.
- The average heart rate of a hummingbird is over 1,200 beats per minute. Compare that to a human’s heart which is only 60-100 beats per minute and you will realise how fast the hearts of hummingbirds beat.
- Hummingbirds cannot smell. However, they have great eyesight which compensates for the lack of sense of smell.
- A hummingbird’s eggs are smaller than a jellybean. These eggs measure less than half an inch in length and this makes them the smallest eggs in the bird kingdom.
- A hummingbird at rest takes on average 250 breaths per minute. This number goes up while the bird is flying.
- Hummingbirds have the largest brain (according to body size) of all birds. They are very intelligent birds with an extremely sharp memory.
Hummingbirds flying facts:
- The hummingbird is the only bird that can fly backwards. These tiny balls of energy can even hover in the air, in one spot, as they feed.
- Hummingbirds flap their wings at an astonishing rate. The Giant hummingbird flaps its wings 10-15 times per second and other smaller varieties can flap their wings up to 90 times in a second!
- Even though they are so small, Anna’s hummingbird can fly at speeds of 98 kmph. That’s almost 61 mph.
- The ruby-throated hummingbird flies across the Gulf of Mexico to migrate. This is a distance of 500 miles and the birds cover it without stopping.
- Most hummingbirds migrate between mid-July to early September, depending on the route and species. The species that live in the further north tend to start their migration journeys earlier than the rest.
Hummingbird diet facts:
- To sustain itself, a hummingbird has to consume almost a half of its weight in sugar every single day. This is because these birds need tremendous amounts of energy to fly and keep their bodies going.
- Since a hummingbird can’t consume half its weight in sugar in one single meal, these birds feed five to eight times per hour.
- A hummingbird’s diet consists of the nectar of flowers, small insects, spiders, tree sap or juice from fruits.
- Hummingbirds have thin and long beaks. It is a common misconception that they drink nectar with the help of their beaks. The truth is that hummingbirds lick the nectar using their long and forked tongue.
- Capillary action helps hummingbirds to pull the nectar out from flowers and these amazing birds can lick 10-15 times in a second when they are feeding.
Hummingbirds species interesting facts:
- There are more than 350 species of hummingbirds. The cool part is that scientists are still discovering more species every year.
- Most species of hummingbirds can breed together. This creates many hybrid species and makes it difficult to identify distinct species.
- The Bee Hummingbird is the smallest bird in the world. These birds are only about 2 inches long. They weigh less than 2 grams and have nests only about an inch in diameter. When it is flying, the wings of a bee hummingbird flap 80 times per second. If you look at it, you will only see a blur.
- Hummingbirds migrate too. The Rufous hummingbird covers a distance of 3,000 miles from Alaska and Canada to Mexico in the winter. This is the longest migration of all hummingbird species.
- The sword-billed hummingbird, which is native to the Andes Mountains, are named for their distinctly heavy bills. Their bills can reach upto 4 inches in length and these are so heavy that the birds can’t even perch straight while holding their bills up.
Hummingbirds behaviour facts:
- The average lifespan of a hummingbird is three to twelve years. This depends on the species, habitat and threats they face.
- Don’t let the small size of these birds deceive you. Hummingbirds are among the most aggressive birds. They attack birds much bigger than themselves like crows and hawks that enter their territory.
- Hummingbirds are not social creatures. They prefer to live and feed alone. They only come together to mate and to migrate.
- When a male hummingbird is ready to mate, he impresses female hummingbirds by puffing out his chest and throat to show off his beautifully coloured feathers. The male will swing his head from side to side too.
- Male hummingbirds also perform something called the ‘courtship dive’ when they are trying to impress a female. Males will fly about 60 feet high into the air and dive straight down, hoping this catches the attention of a female.
- Hummingbird nests are built by females and they use lichens, moss and spiderwebs to build the webs.