Hummingbirds are a family of birds known for their rapid, high-pitched and distinctive calls. The word hummingbird is derived from the Latin humus meaning "a short song" or "humming noise".
The term hummingbird has been used in North American English since the first half of the 19th century. In Europe, it was popularized by German ornithologist Philipp Christoph Neuhausen (1772–1855).
In Spanish, the bird is called chorreado, which means "little red one", while in Portuguese it is called trompeteira.
There are two main groups of hummingbirds: The New World group (Phaethornis) which contains some 35 species, and the Old World group (Trochilus), which contains only two species. Most hummingbirds have long tails that they use to balance themselves when hovering or chasing prey.
The most common types of hummingbird include;
1. Green - The green hummingbird is the largest hummingbird of all and can reach a size of 1.5 inches tall with a wingspan of 2.8 inches. It is found throughout Central America and southern Mexico.
2. Rufous - The rufous hummingbird is another large hummingbird found in South America, with males reaching an average length of 6 inches with a wingspan of 9 inches.
3. Anna's - There are two varieties of this type of hummingbird: the Anna's hummingbird and the Costa's hummingbird. Both are medium-sized, with males reaching up to 4.4 inches tall with a wingspan of 7.7 inches. They live in central Mexico, mainly in Jalisco and Nayarit states.
4. Calliope - This hummingbird is found in northern Mexico and the United States, in particular in California. Its name comes from the Greek goddess of poetry, Calliope.
5. Ruby-throated - This hummingbird lives throughout Central and South America and is considered as one of the most beautiful ones. Its name refers to its throat, which is often covered in bright red feathers.
6. Broad-tailed - The broad-tailed hummingbird is one of the smallest North American members of the genus. It can grow to be just over an inch tall with a wingspan of 2.9 inches. It lives across the US east coast from Florida northward into Canada.
Some other lesser-known types of hummingbirds include;
7. Blue-headed - This hummingbird has a blue head and is found in the Caribbean. Males may be distinguished from females by the presence of a dark cap on the forehead. Its name comes from the Latin words 'aquae' meaning 'water' and 'caput' meaning 'head'.
8. Black - This hummingbird is found only in eastern Panama and western Ecuador, although it is not uncommon in Brazil. It is named after the black colour of its tail feathers.
9. White-eared - This type of hummingbird is found in the Andes Mountains and the Amazon Basin and is closely related to the rufous hummingbird.
10. Blue-throated - The blue-throated hummingbird or azure-crowned hummingbird is named after the blue colour on its throat. It was once thought to be extinct until it was rediscovered in 1992. It now lives throughout much of the Americas south of Texas.
11. Red-throated - The red-throated hummingbird is found in eastern Mexico, Guatemala, Belize and Honduras. It is the smallest member of the Trochilidae family in its range.
12. White-bellied - The white-bellied hummingbird is found along the Pacific Coast of Mexico and Central America. The male of this species is blue with a white belly, while the female is brown with a yellowish belly.
13. Andean - Found in Colombia, Venezuela, Ecuador and Peru, the Andean hummingbird is the largest hummingbird species and grows to about 5 inches tall with a wingspan of 8 inches.
14. Long-tailed - The long-tailed hummingbird is native to Central and South America and can measure up to 3.5 inches tall with a wingspan of 6 inches and is the smallest member of the Trochilidae family. Females do not exhibit any sexual dimorphism.
15. Banded - The banded hummingbird is also known as the Costa hummingbird, because its tail is banded. It is found in parts of Mexico and Central America, including the Yucatán Peninsula.
16. Amethyst - Also known as the amethyst hummingbird, this bird is a rare visitor to the UK. It is named after the gemstone amethyst due to the colouring of its feathers. It is found in Costa Rica and Nicaragua.
17. Scarlet - The scarlet macaw is a small hummingbird found in coastal areas of Trinidad and Tobago, Guyana and Surinam. It is named after the colouring of its plumage.
18. Rufous-sided - The rufous-sided hummingbird is a rare bird found in the Andes mountains of Argentina. It was discovered in 1984 and is named after the colouration of its breast.
19. Magnificent - The magnificent hummingbird is a large type of hummingbird found in the Caribbean and it is named after its dazzling colouring. It is not actually a hummingbird but belongs to the Trochilidae family.
20. Greater - A small type of hummingbird found in the Andes mountains of Bolivia, Peru and Chile.
21. Greenish - The greenish hummingbird is a medium-sized hummingbird found in parts of Mexico, Central America and South America.
22. Yellow-bellied - The yellow-bellied hummingbird is a small hummingbird found in tropical forests of Central America.
23. Golden - The golden hummingbird is a very small hummingbird found in the tropics, although there are records of sightings in temperate regions.