ALL ABOUT HUMMINGBIRDS

 

Hummingbirds are some of the world’s most beloved birds, and we can’t help but be charmed by their stunning colors, tiny size, and larger-than-life personalities. As you use your Hummingbird Ring and get more familiar with hummingbirds, you’ll quickly find there is always more to learn about these fascinating flying jewels!

 

HUMMINGBIRD SPECIES

There are more than 325 hummingbird species, and all of them belong to the scientific family Trochilidae. Hummingbirds are only found in the Western Hemisphere, from Alaska and Canada to Argentina and Chile, with at least a few species in every country. Most hummingbirds live in tropical regions rich with flowers and insects year-round, but eight species regularly breed north of Mexico, and up to two dozen hummingbird species are common breeders, regular visitors, or rare vagrants in the United States. The ruby-throated hummingbird is the most common hummer east of the Mississippi River, while the black-chinned, broad-tailed, rufous, and calliope hummingbirds are found in the western United States. Along the Pacific Coast, Allen’s hummingbirds are summer visitors, while Anna’s hummingbirds are year-round residents. Several other species are found in parts of Texas and southern Arizona.

 

HOW HUMMINGBIRD FLYS

Despite their tiny size, hummingbirds are masters of magnificent flight. Their wings flap so fast – 8-200 flaps per second – that they hum, giving hummingbirds their name. Hummingbirds pivot their shoulders to move their wings in a figure-8 pattern for exceptional maneuverability, and they can fly sideways, backwards, and even upside down. Hummingbirds fly an average of 20-45 miles per hour, but can reach up to 60 miles per hour during a courtship display or aggressive dive. Roughly 90 percent of their flying time is hovering as they feed.

 

WHAT HUMMINGBIRDS EAT

Hummingbirds are well known for sipping nectar with their barbed tongues, licking 10-15 times per second, but they actually eat many things. When there isn’t enough nectar, hummingbirds will lick at sap or fruit juices. They also eat small insects, insect eggs, and spiders, which provide critical protein and minerals for healthy growth. Hummingbirds even ingest some pollen from flowers they visit. A hummingbird feeds 5-8 times per hour, and their bodies are very efficient at digesting sugars and turning food into energy.

 

MIGRATION

Many tropical hummingbirds do not migrate, but most hummers that visit the United States do move north in spring and south in fall. They head north as early as February or March, and start their journeys south in late July or August. Depending on the species, a hummingbird may migrate hundreds or thousands of miles, and the rufous hummingbird has the longest migration. These small birds move from their winter range in Mexico to their breeding range in Alaska and Canada, a one-way journey of more than 3,000 miles. They don’t have the only spectacular hummingbird migration, however – many ruby-throated hummingbirds migrate directly over the Gulf of Mexico, a nonstop trip of 500 miles before they can rest and refuel.

 

MORE FUN HUMMINGBIRD FACTS

There is even more crazy trivia to learn about hummingbirds!

  • A hummingbird’s colored throat isn’t colored at all – the color comes from feather structure and light reflections. The viewing angle, light level, and feather wear and tear all impact what color the throat appears.
  • Hummingbirds’ feet are so tiny these birds cannot walk, though they hop and perch easily. Smaller feet help hummingbirds be lighter and more aerodynamic for faster, more efficient flight.
  • A single hummingbird has 1,000-1,500 feathers. This is the fewest feathers of any bird in the world, which is to be expected for the world’s smallest birds.
  • Hummingbird eggs are less than one-half inch long, smaller than a jellybean. Most hummingbirds lay two eggs per nest, but clutches of 1-3 are possible.
  • A hummingbird’s heartbeat averages 1,200 beats per minute. By comparison, a normal human resting heart rate is 60-100 beats per minute.

 

The more you use your Hummingbird Ring and observe your own visiting hummers, the more you will discover about these amazing birds!

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