Facts About the Hummingbird

We want to share a few facts about the hummingbird that you may find interesting. Hummingbirds are probably the most beautiful and interesting of all birds that visit our backyards.

Learning about hummingbirds will make it easier to attract these flying jewels to your hummingbird feeders. Have you ever wondered... How fast do hummingbirds' wings flap? Why do they seem to change colors in flight? What do hummingbirds eat? Where do they go in the winter? Here are a few facts about the hummingbird that every backyard bird watcher should know.

The hummingbird family, Trochilidae, can only be found in the Western Hemisphere. There are 328 known species of hummingbirds. Tyrant flycatchers are the only family of wild birds to have more known species. There are only about 20 species of hummingbirds that visit North America and Mexico. The 300 plus additional species are considerably more diverse in size, color patterns and lifestyle.

What do hummingbirds eat? Most of us think of flower nectar when answering this question. Another one of the interesting facts about the hummingbird is that they also eat small flying insects. They catch them while flying in and out of a swarm or by flying out from a perch.

How big are hummingbird eggs? Hummingbird eggs are about the size of a navy bean. The clutch normally contains two eggs. There is usually a two-day interval between the laying of the first egg and the second one.

Facts about the hummingbird migration: Most hummingbirds that breed in North America migrate to more tropical climates for the winter. As sunlight and the food source of nectars and insects decrease and the temperatures start to fall, the hummers will begin their journey south to Central America. Many hummingbirds that migrate to North America travel amazing distances. Ruby-throat Hummingbirds, for instance, may travel as far as 2,000 miles going from Canada to Panama. Part of the trip includes a non-stop, 500-mile flight over the Gulf of Mexico.

Do hummingbirds change colors? Iridescent colors such as those of hummingbird gorgets (the gorget is the brilliantly colored area on the throat of a male hummingbird), are illusions caused by refraction of light. Changes in the angles from which light strikes the gorget give the effect of different colors. When sunlight is not striking the gorget at the right angle the feathers will appear all black.

Do hummingbirds sing? Hummingbirds are not known for having a pleasing melody. Most of them manage only a few strident, scratchy notes. Hummingbirds are better known for their distinctive "zinging" noises made with their wings.

Here are some fast facts about hummingbirds

  • Most hummingbirds flap their wings about 50 or so times a second, faster than any other bird.
  • A hummingbird's heart beats up to 1,260 times per minute.
  • Hummingbirds fly an average 25-30 mph, but can reach speeds of 60 mph when diving.
  • Hummingbirds may visit as many as 1,000 flowers per day in their non-stop search for food.
  • Although the hummingbird is the smallest species of bird, its brain accounts for 4.2% of its total body weight, making it, proportionately, the largest brain in the bird kingdom.
  • Hummingbirds can live 10 or more years in the wild.

Here are some links for even more information on hummingbirds:

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