Hummingbirds are the tiniest birds in the world and get their name from the humming noise they create while flapping their wings — about 80 times per second on average! They can fly in all directions — right, left, up, down, backwards and even upside down. They are also able to hover by flapping their wings in a figure-8 pattern. Their feet are only used to perch and are not used to hop or walk as they’d much prefer to fly.
Watch this person feed hummingbirds from the palm of their hand:
Hummingbirds primarily eat flower nectar, tree sap, insects and pollen. Their fast breathing rate and heartbeat, plus their high body temperature requires them to consume an enormous amount of food each day. They have a long tongue which they use to lick their food and can attain up to 13 licks per second.
A hummingbird nest (Scott Schiller via Flickr):
They are only found in the Western Hemisphere — from southeastern Alaska down to southern Chile — with most living in the tropics. There are more than 325 species of hummingbirds!
Here are some interesting facts on these beautiful creatures:
- The bright radiant color on hummingbirds comes from iridescent coloring like on a soap bubble or prism, and are used to attract mates.
- A hummingbird’s brain is 4.2% of its body weight, the largest proportion in the bird kingdom.
- Hummingbirds are very smart and they can remember every flower they have been to and how long it will take a flower to refill.
- Hummingbirds can hear better than humans, but have little to no sense of smell.
- Hummingbirds can see farther than humans and can even see ultraviolet light!
- Their heart beats up to 1,260 times per minute and their metabolism is roughly 100 times that of an elephant.
- A hummingbird’s heart is 2.5% of the total body weight.
- Their body temperature is around 107 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Only eight species regularly breed in the United States, though up to two dozen species may visit the country or be reported as regular visitors.
- Their maximum forward flight speed is 30 miles per hour, though they can reach up to 60 miles per hour in a dive.
- Despite their small size, hummingbirds are one of the most aggressive bird species and will regularly attack jays, crows and hawks that enter their territory.
Historically, they were hunted for their vibrant, colorful feathers. At present, habitat loss/destruction are the hummingbirds main threat to survival.
If you’d like to help ensure that the hummingbird will be around for future generations, click here.
Be Prepared. Know Before™.
The WeatherBug – Earth Networks Team