Hummingbird Facts


HUMMINGBIRD FACTS

Hummingbirds come in a wide range of brilliant colors. 

All birds are fascinating creatures, but there are many facts about hummingbirds that make them astonishing to even experienced birders. From physiological facts to lifestyle facts to distribution facts, hummingbirds are some of the most interesting of the nearly 10,000 bird species in the world.

A hummingbird’s brilliant throat color is not caused by feather pigmentation, but rather by iridescence in the arrangement of the feathers and the influence of light level, moisture and other factors.

Hummingbirds cannot walk or hop, though their feet can be used to scoot sideways while they are perched. These birds have evolved smaller feet to be lighter for more efficient flying.
   

  • The calliope hummingbird is the smallest bird species in North America and measures just 3 inches long. The bee hummingbird is the smallest species and measures 2.25 inches long.
     
  • Hummingbirds have 1,000-1,500 feathers, the fewest number of feathers of any bird species in the world.
     
  • The average ruby-throated hummingbird weighs 3 grams. In comparison, a nickel weighs 4.5 grams.
     
  • From 25-30 percent of a hummingbird’s weight is in its pectoral muscles, the muscles principally responsible for flight.
     
  • A hummingbird’s maximum forward flight speed is 30 miles per hour, though the birds can reach up to 60 miles per hour in a dive, and hummingbirds have many adaptations for unique flight.
     
  • Hummingbirds lay the smallest eggs of all birds. They measure less than 1/2 inch long but may represent as much as 10 percent of the mother’s weight at the time the eggs are laid.

      They are the tiniest of all birds, weighing less than an ounce and measuring only 3 inches long.

Their brightly-colored, iridescent feathers and quick movements make them appear as living sun catchers—hence their nickname, flying jewels. They have a unique ability to fly in any direction, even backward, with their wings beating up to a blurring 80 beats per second. Plus, they can hover in midair when sipping nectar from brightly–colored flowers with their long, slender beaks. While whizzing about the garden, hummingbirds expend so much energy that they must eat at least half of their body weight each day to replace the 12,000 calories that they can burn up. This means eating almost constantly from sunrise to sunset and visiting over a thousand flowers every day.

Attracting Hummingbirds

The key to attracting hummingbirds to your yard is to plant lots of flowers and provide the habitat that will give them shade, shelter, food, and security.

  • Herbs, flowering shrubs, dwarf trees, and vines all can be used to create an ideal tiered habitat from ground level to 10 feet or more.
  • Provide lots of space between plants to give hummingbirds enough room to hover and navigate from flower to flower.
  • Hummingbirds love water, especially if it is moving. A gentle, continuous spray from a nozzle or a sprinkler hose is perfect for a bath on the fly.
  • Hummingbirds do not have a keen sense of smell and rely on bright colors to find their food
  • They are particularly fond of red and are often observed investigating red plant labels, thermometers, and even red clothes on a gardener.
  • Brightly–colored flowers that are tubular hold the most nectar, and are particularly attractive to hummingbirds. These include perennials such as bee balms, columbines, daylilies, and lupines; biennials such as foxgloves and hollyhocks; and many annuals, including cleomes, impatiens, and petunias.

An often–asked question is, “Why do hummingbirds hum?” We really aren't sure, but suspect that it might be because they don't know the words.

Here are more plants that attract hummingbirds. Choose varieties in red and orange shades.

Common NameLatin Name
Beard tongue Penstemon
Bee balm Monarda
Butterfly bush Buddleia
Catmint Nepeta
Clove pink Dianthus
Columbine Aquilegia
Coral bells Heuchera
Daylily Hemerocallis
Larkspur Delphinium
Desert candle Yucca
Flag Iris
Flowering tobacco Nicotiana alata
Foxglove Digitalis
Lily Lilium
Lupine Lupinus
Petunia Petunia
Pincushion flower Scabiosa
Red-hot poker Kniphofia
Scarlet sage Salvia splendens
Scarlet trumpet honeysuckle Lonicera sempervirens
Soapwort Saponaria
Summer phlox Phlox paniculata
Verbena Verbena
Weigela Weigela

Despite all their amazing skills related to flying and hovering, they lack the basic sense of smell. On the contrary, their vision is appreciably sharp with a range which goes farther than that of human beings. They can even see the ultraviolet part of the spectrum of light. Similarly, their hearing ability is also stronger than the hearing of humans.

These interesting creatures reside in the western part of the globe. Their habitat varies from dry deserts to fresh tropical forests, cold mountainous areas as well as boreal forests. Most species are found in the US, ranging from Alaska in the north to Chile in the south.


  • Hummingbird Facts

    These tiny birds are interesting to study, especially for animal lovers. Following are some amazing hummingbird facts and information.

    Things are certainly never dull when there´s a hummingbird or two around to watch! 

    Fun Fact #2: Hummingbirds Are Speedy Little Devils 

    Did you know hummingbirds can fly an average of 30 miles per hour and dive at up to 60 miles per hour? That´s pretty darn fast for such a small bird! 

    But that´s not all… 

    Their wings beat at a speed of 70 times per second (200 when they are in a dive!) and form the pattern of a figure 8 when they are in flight. 

    In fact, 30% of a hummingbird´s weight is made up of what´s called “flight muscle”. 

    Experts estimate that it takes about 20 hours for a Ruby-throated hummingbird to fly 500 miles – or the width of the Gulf of Mexico! 

    …oh my, I almost forgot…Why DO hummingbirds hum, do you know? The humming sound these little guys make come from their rapidly beating wings! 

    Fun Fact #3: Tiny Bird With A Massive Appetite 

    Despite their minute size, hummingbirds can eat up to 50% of their body weight in a single day… 

    Now that´s what I call a HUGE appetite! 

    Hummingbirds use their long, curved bill to reach the nectar in flowers. They have very fine hairs on the tip of their tongue to help them lap up all the nectar they eat. 

    In order to keep from starving, hummingbirds have to eat as many as 7 times over the course of an hour. If you have a hummingbird feeder in your backyard, you´ll likely find these little guys stopping by on a regular basis! 

    Fun Fact #4: Brainy Little Birds 

    Did you know that a hummingbird´s brain makes up 4.2% of its total body weight? 

    Of all the birds out there, hummingbirds have the largest brain to body ratio. No wonder they can do all that cool stuff. In fact, these clever little creatures are able to communicate with each other visually and their memories are so good they can recall where they found food from one season to the next. 

    Fun Fact #5: Hummingbirds Come In Different Sizes 

    While hummingbirds are the smallest birds you´ll find anywhere, they certainly aren´t all the same size. At 2 inches long and weighing in at around 20 grams, the Bee hummingbird is the smallest. Logically enough, the Giant hummingbird is the largest of the species. 

    Fun Fact #6:  21 Beats Per Second! 

    Hummingbirds take about 250 breaths per minute and their tiny hearts beat 250 times while resting. When they´re flitting from here to there, their heartbeat escalates to a whopping 1,260 beats per minute! 

    Fun Fact #7: This Bird Ain´t Made For Walking 

    Unlike bigger, more sturdily built birds, hummingbirds have very delicate feet that make it very hard for them to walk. Because of this, they prefer to fly or perch whenever they can. In fact, hummingbirds spend most of their life perching! 

    Fun Fact #8: Not A Songbird 

    Did you know hummingbirds can´t sing? 

    That´s right, these little birds don´t make music but they can chirp and make other deep-throated sounds. 

    Fun Fact #9: Hummingbird Senses 

    One fact I found particularly interesting is that hummingbirds have no sense of smell. 

    Still, from what I´ve read, these birds seem to be very visual little creatures. Their favorite color is red and, if given a choice, they prefer tubular flowers over other kinds. 

    Naturally, these are just some of the fun facts I ran across while reading about these interesting little birds. Based on the number of stories I found, it seems hummingbirds have fascinated story tellers throughout the ages as well. Let me share this one by Kenyan Nobel laurite and environmental conservationist, Wangari Mathai with you before I go: 

    The forest was on fire and all around the animals stood by, complaining about how the situation had gotten out of hand and there was nothing they could do. 

    The small hummingbird was fetching water with its small beak from the nearby river, attempting to put out the fire. When the bigger animals laughed at his efforts to help, the little hummingbird chirped: at least, I am doing the best I can. 

    Thought-provoking, don´t you think? 

    So, tell me – what do you like best about hummingbirds? I hope you´ll share your thoughts in the comments below.

    Things are certainly never dull when there´s a hummingbird or two around to watch! 

    Fun Fact #2: Hummingbirds Are Speedy Little Devils 

    Did you know hummingbirds can fly an average of 30 miles per hour and dive at up to 60 miles per hour? That´s pretty darn fast for such a small bird! 

    But that´s not all… 

    Their wings beat at a speed of 70 times per second (200 when they are in a dive!) and form the pattern of a figure 8 when they are in flight. 

    In fact, 30% of a hummingbird´s weight is made up of what´s called “flight muscle”. 

    Experts estimate that it takes about 20 hours for a Ruby-throated hummingbird to fly 500 miles – or the width of the Gulf of Mexico! 

    …oh my, I almost forgot…Why DO hummingbirds hum, do you know? The humming sound these little guys make come from their rapidly beating wings! 

    Fun Fact #3: Tiny Bird With A Massive Appetite 

    Despite their minute size, hummingbirds can eat up to 50% of their body weight in a single day… 

    Now that´s what I call a HUGE appetite! 

    Hummingbirds use their long, curved bill to reach the nectar in flowers. They have very fine hairs on the tip of their tongue to help them lap up all the nectar they eat. 

    In order to keep from starving, hummingbirds have to eat as many as 7 times over the course of an hour. If you have a hummingbird feeder in your backyard, you´ll likely find these little guys stopping by on a regular basis! 

    Fun Fact #4: Brainy Little Birds 

    Did you know that a hummingbird´s brain makes up 4.2% of its total body weight? 

    Of all the birds out there, hummingbirds have the largest brain to body ratio. No wonder they can do all that cool stuff. In fact, these clever little creatures are able to communicate with each other visually and their memories are so good they can recall where they found food from one season to the next. 


  • Fun Fact #5: Hummingbirds Come In Different Sizes 

    While hummingbirds are the smallest birds you´ll find anywhere, they certainly aren´t all the same size. At 2 inches long and weighing in at around 20 grams, the Bee hummingbird is the smallest. Logically enough, the Giant hummingbird is the largest of the species. 

    Fun Fact #6:  21 Beats Per Second! 

    Hummingbirds take about 250 breaths per minute and their tiny hearts beat 250 times while resting. When they´re flitting from here to there, their heartbeat escalates to a whopping 1,260 beats per minute! 

    Fun Fact #7: This Bird Ain´t Made For Walking 

    Unlike bigger, more sturdily built birds, hummingbirds have very delicate feet that make it very hard for them to walk. Because of this, they prefer to fly or perch whenever they can. In fact, hummingbirds spend most of their life perching! 

    Fun Fact #8: Not A Songbird 

    Did you know hummingbirds can´t sing? 

    That´s right, these little birds don´t make music but they can chirp and make other deep-throated sounds. 

    Fun Fact #9: Hummingbird Senses 

    One fact I found particularly interesting is that hummingbirds have no sense of smell. 

    Still, from what I´ve read, these birds seem to be very visual little creatures. Their favorite color is red and, if given a choice, they prefer tubular flowers over other kinds. 

    Naturally, these are just some of the fun facts I ran across while reading about these interesting little birds. Based on the number of stories I found, it seems hummingbirds have fascinated story tellers throughout the ages as well. Let me share this one by Kenyan Nobel laurite and environmental conservationist, Wangari Mathai with you before I go: 

    The forest was on fire and all around the animals stood by, complaining about how the situation had gotten out of hand and there was nothing they could do. 

    The small hummingbird was fetching water with its small beak from the nearby river, attempting to put out the fire. When the bigger animals laughed at his efforts to help, the little hummingbird chirped: at least, I am doing the best I can. 

    Thought-provoking, don´t you think?

    So, tell me – what do you like best about hummingbirds? I hope you´ll share your thoughts in the comments below.

     

 

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