Learn about feeding, hand-feeding, range, size, flight, torpor, where they sleep, migration and more ……
The Hummingbird is a small bird of the Trochilidae family. The rapid beating of the hummingbirds wings (60 to 80 beats per second) makes the distinctive humming sound from which they get their name.
Interesting facts about the hummingbirds:
The hummingbird is the smallest bird and also the smallest of all animals that have a backbone.
They have no sense of smell
Because the hummingbird can rotate its wings in a circle, they are the only bird that can fly forwards, backwards, up, down ,sideways and hover in mid air.
To conserve energy while they sleep or when food is scarce, they can go into a hibernation-like state (torpor) where their metabolic rate is slowed to !/15th of its normal rate.
During migration, some hummingbirds make a non-stop 500 mile flight over the Gulf of Mexico.
During courtship dives they can reach speeds up to 60 miles per hour and can average speeds of 20 to 30 miles per hour.
They are the second largest family of birds with 343 species.
Their wings can beat their wings up to 80 times a second during normal flight and up to 200 times per second during a courtship dive.
The hummingbird has a heart rate that can reach up to 1,260 beats per minute.
Percentage wise, the hummingbird has the largest brain of all birds (4.2% of its total body weight).
They have very weak feet and use them mainly just for perching.
The Hummingbird Range
(where do hummingbirds live in the world)
Hummingbirds are found only in North America and South America.
Their range extends as far north as southeastern Alaska and extends as far south as southern Chile.
South America has the biggest variety of hummingbirds and more than half the species are found there. The country of Ecuador in northwestern South America has the largest number of hummingbirds of any one country with 163 different species.
There are over fifty species of hummingbirds that regularly breed in Mexico.
Sixteen different species of hummingbirds breed in the United States, but the Ruby-throated Hummingbird is the only one that breeds east of the Mississippi River.
And four species breed in Canada.
male Ruby-throated hummingbird
male Ruby-throated hummingbird
16 Species of hummingbirds that breed in the United States:
for pictures of the 16 species of hummingbirds click on the link Species of hummingbirds
* Allen’s Selasphorus sasin
* Anna’s Calypte anna
* black-chinned Archilochus alexandri
* broad-tailed Selasphorus platycercus
* calliope Stellula calliope
* Costa’s Calypte costae
* rufous Selasphorus rufus
* berylline Amazilia beryllina
* blue-throated Lampornis clemenciae
* broad-billed Cynanthus latirostris
* buff-bellied Amazilia yucatenensis
* lucifer Calothorax lucifer
* magnificant (Rivoli) Eugenes fulgens
* ruby-throated Archilochus colubris
* violet-crowned Amazilia violiceps
* white-eared Hylocharis leucotis
The Hummingbird Size Information
Hummingbird’s size ranges from the smallest (the Bee Hummingbird of Cuba that weighs about 2.2 grams) ….. to the largest (the Giant Hummingbird of South America that weighs about 20 grams).
The smallest hummingbird, and as a matter of fact, the smallest bird on earth, is the Bee Hummingbird. With a length of only 2.25 inches, the Bee Hummingbird isn’t much larger than a bee.
The largest hummingbird, the Giant Hummingbird, is about 8 inches in length, or about the size of a large starling.
The common Ruby-throated Hummingbird that most people are familiar with….. weighs about 3 grams. A hummingbirds weight will almost double this amount as they put on fat in getting ready for migration.
Ruby-throated hummingbirds are about 3 1/2 inches from the tip of their beaks to the tip of their tales.
The female Ruby-throated hummingbirds are about 15 to 20% larger than the male Ruby-throated hummingbird.
Giant hummingbird videos:
This baby Giant Hummingbird landed on our ledge. Normally they are very timid, but this one stayed around for over an hour. Even as a baby they are still larger than all other hummingbirds.
Most people recognize hummingbirds as the very tiny creatures we often see near our homes. However, not all hummingbirds are small. Giant hummingbirds are the largest of the 320 hummingbird species. The North Carolina Zoo exhibits five giant hummingbirds, which are very rare in captivity, in its Sonoran Desert habitat.
The Hummingbird Flight Information
Unlike other birds, a hummingbird can rotate its wings in a circle. Because of this special hummingbird fact, they are the only bird that can fly both forwards and backwards. They can also fly up, down, sideways, hover in one spot, or fly upside down for short distances. The hummingbird flight muscles make up 30% of a hummingbirds total body weight.
The Hummingbird video: watch this incredible video of a hummingbirds wing movement in super slow motion. They flap their wings up to 70 times per second; it’s heart rate can reach 1,260 beats per minute.
Normal flight speed for hummingbirds is about 25 miles per hour, but they have been clocked at speeds in excess of fifty miles per hour during their courtship dives.
During normal flight the wings beat about 60-80 times per second. In their courtship dives they might beat up to 200 times per second.
A courtship dive is an elaborate display of flight performed by the male hummingbird at the start of the nesting season. The male hummingbird will climb high into the air (up to 60 feet or more) and dive towards the ground and forming a wide arc, climbs back into the air to about the same height. These dives, forming a wide U-shaped pattern, my be performed 3 or 4 times in rapid succession. These hummingbird courtship dives are performed to attracted the attention of the female hummingbirds and to ward off other male hummingbirds that might be in the area.
Click on the play button below to view the Anna’s hummingbird video on courtship which shows everything from the adding of pieces of lichen and plant down to the nest, to the courtship dive of the male bird to get the females attention, the male and female Anna’s in flight together, followed by the eggs in the nest. Then see the female Anna’s hummingbird feeding the very tiny newly hatched baby hummingbirds. See the baby hummingbirds test their wings and finally the female Anna’s hummingbird feeding the baby hummingbird after it has left the nest.
First hummingbird video of the Marvelous Spatuletail’s amazing courtship display by Greg R. Homel, Natural Elements Productions and distributed by American Bird Conservancy, http://www.abcbirds.org.This rare hummingbird inhabits the highlands of Peru.
more facts about the hummingbird:
The Hummingbird Life span
Most hummingbirds unfortunately die during their first year but, those that do survive that first year have an average hummingbird life span of 3 to 4 years.
The longest recorded life span is from a female Broad-tailed Hummingbird that was tagged then recaptured 12 years later, making her at least 12 years old.
The oldest known surviving Ruby-throated Hummingbird is a banded bird that was 6 years 11 months old.
The oldest known hummingbird life span for a Rufous Hummingbird is a banded bird that was 8 years 1 month old.
The Hummingbird Feeding Information (interesting hummingbird facts)
They will feed 5 to 8 times every hour for 30 to 60 seconds at a time.
The large portion of a hummingbirds diet is sugar which they get from flower nectar and tree sap. They also eat insects and pollen to get protein to build muscle.
They are also easily attracted to the Hummingbird nectar feeders.
My favorite feeder is Aspects 12oz Hummzinger Ultra With Nectar Guard
It’s inexpensive and has several features that makes it well worth the price.
The HummZinger has patented Nectar guard tips which are flexible membranes attached to the feed ports that prohibit entry from flying insects, but allow Hummingbirds to feed as usual. The HummZinger also has a built in ant moat that will stop crawling insects from getting to the nectar. It also has raised flower ports that divert rain.
This mid-size nectar feeder has a 12 oz. capacity and can be hung or post mounted with hardware provided. It has four feeding ports for hummingbirds and is made of unbreakable polycarbonate. Easy to clean.
For ease of cleaning and protection from bees, wasps and ants, this feeder can’t be beat.
Hummingbirds have the highest metabolism rate of any animal on earth. They have a high breathing rate, a high heart rate, and a high body temperature. To maintain all of this and to provide energy for flying they may consume anywhere from 2/3 to 3 times their body weight in food each day.
The Hummingbirds’ bills are long and tapered to match perfectly with the tubular shaped blooms on which they like to feed. Their tongue is grooved on the sides to collect nectar which they lap up at the rate of 13 licks per second.
They are very territorial and will perch in trees, vines or bushes, between feedings to watch the area….. and will attack other birds that might try to feed at their food source.
They are also very helpful in pollinating the plants on which they feed. There are some plants that are only pollinated by hummingbirds. As they lap up the nectar, pollen from the bloom is rubbed off onto the hummingbird, then carried to the next bloom as it continues to feed.
the hummingbird video: facts about the hummingbird, flowers to attract hummingbirds, tips on attracting hummingbirds, tips on hummingbird feeders, making hummingbird nectar, hanging feeders and keeping ants away from the hummingbird feeder and more interesting hummingbird facts.
Watch the video to see hundreds of hummingbirds feeding at the same time at Hummingbird’s Haven…….incredible!
Another video at Hummingbird’s Haven
interesting hummingbird facts cont.
The Hummingbird Sounds
The hummingbird sounds are of two types, vocalizations and the sounds their wings make.
Hummingbirds lack a true song. Most of their vocalizations consists of chirping hummingbird sounds.
Humming birds frequently vocalize to attract a mate or when they are excited.
They are named for the humming sound they make through the rapid movement of their wings, when they are in flight.
The hummingbird video: female Ruby-throated hummingbird sounds….you can really hear the hum of her wings as they beat about 60-80 times per second
Video on the hummingbird sounds: Scientists at the University of California, Berkeley have analyzed the chirp made by male Anna’s hummingbirds as they swoop down towards a female.
The hummingbird sounds video: A hummingbird (possibly a juvenile Anna’s) chirping
Video about the hummingbird sounds: Colibri hummingbird chirping
Torpor is a hibernation-like state that the hummingbird can enter to help conserve energy.
While in a state of torpor, the humming bird will lower its body temperature by about 20 degrees and up to 50 degrees. This will help the bird conserve energy on cold nights or anytime that food might be scarce.
The next morning the bird can raise its metabolism and get its body temperature back to normal usually within a few minutes but, it can take up to an hour.
They can even lower their heart rate from 500 beats per minute to as few as 50.
Also to conserve energy, hummingbirds may even stop breathing for periods of time.
Even with all these energy conservation abilities, a cold night or difficulty locating enough food for a day, can prove to be fatal to the hummingbird.
Where do hummingbirds sleep?
They will find a tree in an area that offers some protection, where they will perch on a tree branch to sleep. Fir trees are trees that are thick and offer protection from the elements, that hummingbirds like to use. The hummingbird will grasp the branch with its feet and go into a state of torpor to help conserve energy while it sleeps.
While in this state of semi-hibernation the hummingbird will sometimes loosen its grasp just a little and will be found hanging upside down on the branch. When the sun comes out and warms them up though, they will resume their normal activities. Below you will find several sleeping hummingbird videos that show them hanging upside down in a state of torpor.
Here’s a where do hummingbirds sleep video:
Below is a video that talks about torpor and about where do hummingbirds sleep.
Here’s another video on where do hummingbirds sleep:
Hummingbirds go into a state of torpor when they sleep (this one was hanging upside down outside our window for about 30 minutes). In this state of torpor, they become hypothermic, conserving 50 times less energy, have almost no pulse and only become alert when approached.
Untrue hummingbird facts: hummingbirds migrate on the backs of geese.
Another of the untrue facts: keeping your feeders out too long in the fall will upset the hummingbirds’ normal migration pattern.
Their migration is causes by hormonal changes that take place within the hummingbird’s body. These hormonal changes are triggered by the changing length of daylight. Since it is the shorter hours of daylight in the fall that causes the hummingbirds to migrate, you don’t have to worry that keeping your feeders out too long in the fall will cause the birds to hang around and not migrate.
Many species of Hummingbirds that migrate to the United States must travel very long distances from Mexico and Central America to get here. Many Ruby-throated Hummingbirds must travel 2,000 miles to go from Panama to their destination in Canada.
One of the most incredible facts about hummingbirds is that this 2,000 mile journey will also include a500 mile non-stop flight to cross the Gulf of Mexico.
another hummingbird migration article
The Hummingbird that travels the farthest north to breed is the Rufous, that travels all the way to Alaska to breed.
Click on the link, the hummingbird video, to view more hummingbird videos
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Copyright 2010| Michael D.Baughman
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