Hummingbird

Hummingbird Facts
Size 2 - 10 inch (5 - 25 cm); wingspan 3.5 - 8.5 inch (9 – 21.5 cm)
Speed Up to 30 mph (48 km/h)
Weight 0.05 - 0.84 oz (1.6 - 24 g)
Lifespan 3 - 5 years
Food Nectar, tree sap, insects, spiders
Predators Birds, snakes, lizards
Habitat America
Order Apodiformes
Family Hummingbirds
Scientific name Trochilidae
Characteristics Long, thin bill, can fly backwards
Fly Food

Some people eat while walking, the hummingbird almost exclusively eats while flying. While hovering in the air, it drinks from the calyx of a flower with its long bill.

Flap, Flap, Flap

Hummingbirds flap their wings about 40 – 50 times per second. The wings are so flexible that the birds can fly sideways, backwards and „on the spot“.

Hummingbird Hummingbird - Photo: Eugalo/Shutterstock

Drinks Five Times as Much as its Own Body Weight

Hummingbirds flap their wings so fast that we cannot see them anymore. This is very exhausting and energy-consuming.

Therefore, hummingbirds have to take in large amounts of sugar with the nectar they drink from flowers (the nectar consists of 30 % sugar and 70 % water). They slobber five times the weight of their bodies of the sweet “fuel” every day.

Fortunately their kidneys work very well. Other animals would die if they tried to drink that much. Their kidneys would not be able to process such large amounts of liquid at once.

Fiery-throated hummingbird Fiery-throated hummingbird - Photo: Ondrej Prosicky/Shutterstock

Brrr, It’s Cold!

How can a little bird like the hummingbird withstand cold temperatures? It uses a trick: When it is getting cold during the night, it slows down its metabolism, which helps it to maintain an even body temperature.

The Biggest and the Smallest

The smallest hummingbird is the bee hummingbird. From the bill to the tail feather it measures just about 2.3 inch (6 cm). Therefore it is not much larger than a USB stick. The largest hummingbird is the giant hummingbird with a length of 10 inch (25 cm).

Costa's Hummingbird Costa's Hummingbird - Photo: Manja/Shutterstock

Metallic Gleam

The plumage of most hummingbirds has a metallic gleam. Depending on the incidence of light, the feathers glimmer in slightly different color shades.

This is called light interference (= the overlapping of light waves). You can watch the effect when drops of oil spread on a water surface, or when light falls on a CD in a specific angle so that you can perceive the colorful gleam.

Mexican Violetear Mexican Violetear - Photo: Glass and Nature/Shutterstock


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