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10 Facts about Hummingbirds – and other exciting tidbits

Tuesday, July 3, 2018By: Lisa M. Genier - Adirondack Council regimen Analyst

One the my favorite things about spring and summer is seeing the hummingbirds (Trochilidae) zoom roughly the flowers and also my hummingbird feeders.

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I’ve constantly been in awe that these small creatures ever since I was a child and also we began hanging a hummingbird feeder in ~ our family’s cabin in the Adirondacks. Also today, every summer, we placed a feeder increase just outside our screened-in porch and also watch because that the hummingbirds come come and eat.

It’s constantly exciting once you hear the hummingbirds’ distinctive sound as they come closer to the feeder…sort of like a bumblebee who’s had too much coffee. Castle dart earlier and forth and up and also down - alternative between eating and hovering in ar to take a break from your repast. I especially like as soon as they perch on the feeder through their small feet while taking a long, seemingly relaxing drink that the sweet sugar and also water mixture that they love so much and also which provides their sustenance.

Unique features of Hummingbirds

Hummingbirds are interesting creatures and also have numerous unique qualities. Few of these qualities are physical features, others room quirky behaviors. Ns bet you understand a couple of of these, however others may surprise you.

1. Numerous Species

I as soon as saw a National geographical television unique on hummingbirds that claimed that there space over 330 types of hummingbirds! ns was shocked. I had no idea, since I to be only acquainted with one species, as I’m certain you are as well, the Ruby-Throated Hummingbird.

The male Ruby-Throated Hummingbird


The woman Ruby-Throated Hummingbird


Surprisingly, hummingbirds space only uncovered in the western Hemisphere, through almost fifty percent the species living around the equator. Around five percent of hummingbird varieties live primarily north that Mexico, and also only about two dozen varieties visit the U.S. And Canada. A few species stay year-round in the U.S. Follow me the Pacific coast.

2. They Eat A lot

Hummingbirds have a an extremely high metabolism and must eat every day long simply to survive. They consume about fifty percent their body weight in bugs and also nectar, feeding every 10-15 minutes and visiting 1,000-2,000 flowers throughout the day. In addition to nectar native flowers and feeders, this birds eat little insects, beetles, ants, aphids, gnats, mosquitoes, and wasp. So, hummingbirds are great to have actually in your backyard!

3. They’re the Smallest

Hummingbirds are the the smallest of every bird species. The punishment hummingbird the Cuba weighs just 1.95 grams or about as lot as a ¼ tespoon of sugar!

It would be logical the if hummingbirds are the smallest birds, lock would additionally have the tiniest egg of any kind of bird. For reference, a Ruby-throated hummingbird’s egg is about the dimension of a pea and its swarm is around the size of half a walnut shell. And also they love to make their dwellings in gardens because they are secluded and quiet. So you re welcome make sure to examine branches prior to you perform your feather cleaning in her yard.

4. Mrs Builders

Interestingly, just female hummingbirds construct nests and will lay just two eggs. The male hummingbird is not associated in increasing young, and also will frequently find an additional mate after ~ the young are hatched. After ~ hatching, baby hummingbirds will continue to be in the swarm for about three weeks.

5. They Travel

One point that surprised me about hummingbirds is the they migrate. In fact, some take trip over 2,000 miles double a year. Castle winter in central America or Mexico and also migrate phibìc to their breeding grounds in the U.S. During late winter and early spring. Hummingbirds will typically gain 25-40 percent of their body weight before they begin migration in bespeak to make their trip. They generally fly alone, regularly on the same path they’ve flown previously in your life.

Hummingbirds paris by day as soon as sources the nectar space the most abundant. They likewise fly low, which permits the birds to see, and also stop at, food supplies along the way. Research indicates a hummingbird can travel as much as 23 mile in one day.

6. They"ve acquired the Moves

No various other birds deserve to fly prefer hummingbirds. They can fly forward, backward, and also even upside down! Hummingbirds are additionally the just vertebrae qualified of hovering because that a period of time throughout flight.

7. And also They’re fast

Along v being agile, hummingbirds have speed and stamina. They have actually been clocked at almost 30 mph in straight flight and more than 45 mph during courtship dives.

Not just do hummingbirds move from place to location quickly, but their body parts also move rather rapid as well. A hummingbird"s heart beats from 225 times every minute as soon as it’s at remainder and an ext than 1,200 times every minute when it is flying. Its wings beat about 70 times per second in consistent flight and an ext than 200 times per second while diving.

8. But They rest Too

Hummingbirds are among the few groups of birds that go into torpor - a an extremely deep, sleep-like state in which metabolic attributes are slowed come a minimum and a an extremely low body temperature is maintained. Hummingbirds have high metabolic demands and their feather are poor insulators, therefore going into torpor permits them to make it through when conditions make it difficult to maintain their typical 105 degrees Fahrenheit human body temperature.

Male Ruby-Throated Hummingbird in TorporHummingbirds can get in torpor any type of time that the year once temperature and also food problems demand it. (If torpor it is long for lengthy periods, us would contact it hibernation.)

9. They are Anti-Social (and deserve to be mean!)

Hummingbirds are, because that the many part, unsocial creatures. They contend for food sources and often when more than one hummingbird is around, it end up in a series of high-speed chases. Adjustment season can acquire a little bit competitive together well, and also male hummingbirds get mean. To prove your dominance, male hummingbirds will bob and weave and then use their needle-like beaks choose knives and also stab each various other in the throat. A violent means to obtain his mate.

10. Big-Brained Bird

A hummingbird’s mind makes up 4.2 percent that its weight; proportionally, that’s the biggest of any bird’s. By comparison, ours brains room two percent of our body weight. Studies have presented that hummingbirds deserve to remember hike routes and also every flower they’ve ever visited. They can also figure out how long to wait in between visits for this reason the flowers have time come generate more nectar. They can also recognize humans!


The typical life span of a hummingbird is five years, yet they have actually been well-known to live for an ext than 10 years. Together with any creature, there space threats to the hummingbirds’ survival…some natural and some man-made.

Climate Change: Unfortunately, hummingbirds space being affected by the earth"s changing temperatures because of climate change. Their migratory patterns are transforming which is causing different types to it is in spotted in locations well exterior their normal range. This may make the more daunting for castle to find food, which may cause a populations’ decline.

Habitat Loss: Urbanization, agriculture, logging, and breakthrough in tropical locations threaten plenty of hummingbird species. Because hummingbirds are so small, even minor breakthrough can have actually a tragic impact on them. Praying Mantis: Yes, you check out it correctly, praying mantis deserve to kill hummingbirds. Even though hummingbirds are about eight times larger than the mantis’ usual meal, they will wait at feeders and launch a sneak strike using their quick reflexes. So, if you discover a praying mantis at her hummingbird feeder, gently remove it and place that at another location. You re welcome don’t kill the praying mantis, lock eat bugs and are helpful to her backyard ecosystems.

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Invasive Plants: People unknowingly select invasive plants because that ornamental value around their lawns. Although these plants room beautiful, they room unfamiliar come hummingbirds and also will not carry out the nectar lock require. Please choose your tree wisely.

Get yourself a Feeder

If friend love hummingbirds as much as ns do, get your own feeder, to fill it through homemade nectar, and watch the tiny birds pertained to eat. Friend will enjoy seeing the hummingbirds, and you will certainly be helping them out through their have to eat a lot! Don’t worry around leaving the feeder up as well late in the season, hummingbirds understand when to start their migration. They don’t stick approximately just due to the fact that there’s nectar. In fact, it’s a an excellent idea come leave your feeder up till the center to late September come catch any last-minute travelers coming down from the north.

Lisa M. Genier joined the board of directors in 1992 working as that is Legislative combine in the Albany office. Throughout her tenure, she play a duty in the development of the eco-friendly Protection Fund, which has been provided to fund land purchases and environmental programs in the Adirondack Park and around the state. She was likewise a member the the negotiating groups that operated on re-licensing agreements for numerous hydroelectric framework in the Park, which preserved thousands of acre of land, expanded recreational opportunities, and also protected other natural resources. Lisa now works part-time as regimen Analyst writing activity alerts, interacting with members, regulating the Council’s website, and also serving in a consultative duty on legislative and also other issues

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