Interesting Facts on Hummingbirds
- The number of times a hummingbird’s wings beat is different from one species to another, and ranges from 720 to 5400 times per minute when hovering.
- Hummingbirds are the only birds that can fly backwards.
- Some hummingbirds fly at speeds greater than 33 miles per hour.
- A hummingbird’s wing beats take up so much energy, they spend the majority of their time resting on branches and twigs.
- Hummingbirds got their name from the humming noise their wings make in flight.
- Approximately 25-30% of a hummingbird’s bodyweight is flight muscle, as opposed to other birds, which average 15%.
- Hummingbirds can fly in the rain and, like dogs, shake their heads to dispel drops of water. Unlike dogs, however, a hummingbird shakes its head violently, 132 times per second, and rotating 202 degrees—all while flying and maintaining direction!
- Hummingbirds can enter a state of physical inactivity called torpor, in which the birds reduce their body temperature to conserve energy.
- “adept at burning both glucose and fructose, which are the individual components of sugar; a unique trait other vertebrates cannot achieve.”
- A hummingbird’s metabolism is about 100 times faster than an elephant’s!
- A hummingbird has only a few taste buds and salivary glands in its mouth.
- Hummingbirds are some of the smallest birds in the world, and the bee hummingbird is by far the smallest at just one inch in length, weighing two grams.
- Hummingbirds have no sense of smell.
- Hummingbirds have more neck vertebra (14 or 15) as opposed to most mammals (7).
- A hummingbird’s heart is relatively the largest of all animals at 2.5% of its body weight.
- Hummingbirds’ legs and feet are small and weak, so they are used only for perching, not walking,
- A hummingbird weighs less than a nickel, on average.
- The iridescence of hummingbird feathers is a result of prism-like microstructures that fragment light into components of the spectrum, by a process of absorption and angle of light.
- A hummingbird tongue is flat and split at the tip, bifurcated like a forked tongue. Each of the bifurcated flaps is edged with fringe, which makes the tip of tongue look like a feather. At rest, the flaps are rolled up in tubular shape and stuck together. When a hummingbird feeds, it picks fluid up by protracting the tongue, spreading the bifurcated tip, which opens out flat, gets covered with fluid, then brought back into the mouth.
- When hummingbirds migrate to the United States in the springtime, they cover 500 miles across the Gulf of Mexico, flying for 20 hours without stopping.
- In preparation for migration, a hummingbird will store half its body weight worth of fat.
- Hummingbirds migrate alone and not in flocks. Very commonly the males migrate first followed by the females.
- Nearly 15% of hummingbird species are vulnerable to extinction.
- It has been reported that very small hummingbirds have been caught in spider webs, stuck on thistles, and eaten by praying mantis, frogs, and dragonflies.
- Hummingbirds are killed when striking windows.
- Predators, such as cats, can catch and kill hummingbirds
- On an average day, a hummingbird will consume double its body weight.
- A hummingbird drinks nectar by protracting and contracting its tongue around 13 times per second.
- A hummingbird drinks nectar from hundreds of flowers, and eats thousands of tiny insects each day.
- The edges of a hummingbird’s tongue are rolled inward to assist in bringing nectar and insects into the bird’s mouth.
Breeding and Reproduction
- Only female hummingbirds build nests.
- Female hummingbirds lay only two eggs.
- The male hummingbird is not involved in raising young, and will often find another mate after the young are hatched.
- Hummingbirds tend to return to the area where they were hatched.
- After hatching, baby hummingbirds will stay in the nest for approximately three weeks.
- More than 330 species of hummingbirds live in North and South America.
- Only 5% of hummingbird species live primarily north of Mexico.
- 95% of hummingbird species live primarily south of the United States.