10 Interesting Facts About Hummingbirds

ruby-throated hummingbird - ruby-throated hummingbird migration timeI love hummingbirds!  I first became aware of them when I was very young while visiting my aunt and uncle at their house out in the country.  She absolutely loved hummingbirds and every summer I remember seeing her hummingbird feeders hanging on her deck with hummers all around feeding at them.

Hummingbirds are probably a favorite bird for most people.  I think it is because they are so fascinating to watch as they zip around the landscape so fast that you barely get to see them.  When you do they are hovering at flowers drinking the nectar from them or from a hummingbird feeder.  That and the fact that they are such beautiful birds with their emerald green body and  irridescent red thoat.    (this is the Ruby-throated Hummingbird that I am talking about).

There are so many interesting facts about these hummingbirds that a lot of people may not even know.  For example, did you know that……

 

#1 Hummingbirds Have Amazing Flying Ability

Okay you probably already figured that one out just by observing them, but did you also know that they not only fly forwards but can fly up and down and in reverse too.  They are the only known birds that can do this.  Hummers can also continuously hover by rapidly beating their wings back and forth.

Hummingbirds can fly sixty miles per hour, beating their wings sixty to eighty beats per second.  During a courtship dive they beat their wings two hundred times per second.

 

#2 They Have The Fastest Heartbeat

Hummingbirds have the fastest heartbeat than any other bird.  At rest a hummingbird’s heart beats 250 times per minute.  In comparison an eagle’s heartbeat at rest is 100 to 120 beats per minute.

During flight a hummer’s heartbeat is 1300 times per minute.

 

#3 Hummingbirds Can Only Be Found In The Western Hemisphere

There are more than three hundred species of hummingbirds that can be  found only in the Western Hemisphere.  Hummingbirds can be found as far north as Alaska to as far south as Chile.  Most of the hummingbirds live in the tropics all year long with twelve of them that summer in North America.  The Ruby-throated Hummingbird is the only hummingbird that is found in the eastern half of the United States (where I live) and in Canada.  However, there have been a couple like the Anna’s (top pic) and the Calliope (bottom pic) that have been sighted here.

anna's hummingbird - 10 interesting facts about hummingbirds

calliope hummingbird - 10 interesting facts about hummingbirds

 

#4  Hummingbirds Travel Far

In the spring time when hummingbirds migrate to the United States, they will fly up to 500 miles across the Gulf of Mexico or along the Gulf which can take them twenty hours or more (non stop).  They migrate alone, flying at night, with the males migrating first followed by the females a week or so later, then the juveniles.  To prepare for their long flight, hummingbirds store half of their body weight to help them make the journey.

 

#5  Hummingbirds Eat A Lot!

A hummingbird burns up a lot of energy, so consequently it eats and drinks a lot, from one and a half to three times its body weight per day.  How does the hummer do this?  He/She visits hundreds of flowers or hummingbird feeders to get its nectar and eats thousands of tiny insects like gnats, mites, and aphids.

 

#6  The Female Builds The Nest

Once hummingbirds have mated the female builds a cup like nest made of plant fibers, small bits of leaves, spider silk, and twigs which they anchor to a tree about ten to forty feet off the ground.  The female will lay two eggs which she incubates for about fourteen to sixteen days.  She is the only one who raises the young as the male has nothing to do with them.  The new nestlings will stay in the nest for about three weeks.

 

 

 

#7  Hummingbirds Have A Good Memory

When hummingbirds migrate they are known to return to the same area where they were hatched.  Research has also shown that they remember where they previously found hummingbird feeders that provided them nectar.  They also remember which flowers that they got nectar from and how long it takes for them to replenish to be able to return and get more.

 

 

#8  They Can Survive The Cold

Many people worry that if they keep their hummingbird feeders out too long in the fall when it gets colder that hummingbirds will not be able to survive.  Most hummingbirds instinctively know to leave their summer homes when food supply becomes low,  however some hummers have been know to stay the winter and still survive.  The main reason for this is a thing called torpor.  Torpor is a way for hummers to conserve energy.  During torpor, the hummingbird’s heart rate drops from 1260 beats to less than 50 beats per minute with it’s body temperature dropping from 104 degrees Fahrenheit to 65 degrees Fahrenheit.    This process helps protect them from the cold.

 

#9  Their Wings Do All The Work

Hummingbirds use their feet for perching and for scratching only.  They cannot walk or hop like most birds as their feet are practically useless for that.

 

hummingbird hovering - 10 interesting facts about hummingbirds

 

 

#10  Hummingbirds Are Attracted To All Bright Colors

While their favorite color is red, hummingbirds like all bright colors.  Have you ever noticed a hummingbird checking out a brightly colored garden ornament or anything bright for that matter?   They are looking for nectar and no matter the color if a flower or plant has it they are on it!

 

costas hummingbird - 10 interesting facts about hummingbirds

 

In Conclusion

What an awesome beauty to have in your garden with their emerald green body and bright ruby colored throat!   Added to that is their amazing aerobatic movements…up, down, backwards, forwards, and hovering abilities all at tremendous speed.  They bring great entertainment for sure.

If you want to keep them coming to your backyard all you have to do is supply them with nectar via a hummingbird feeder or two or with bright colored tubular flowers that contain natural nectar.    It is definitely a bonus by having both for them.

If you would like to make any comments or have any questions about this post I would love to hear from you.  Please feel free to do so below.

 

Happy Birding!

Posted in Backyard Birds, Hummingbirds, Landscaping For Birds, Wild Bird Food and tagged .

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