Picture of a hummingbird

Hummingbirds – Where do you start? So cool! So tiny! So unique! Certainly, one of the most beautiful birds in the world and truly one of the most fascinating.  What makes them so special?

Size for one…or the lack there-of.  They really are the smallest of all birds, and yet, with more than 330 species, they are the second largest family of birds in the world. A fact made even more remarkable when considering that they are found nowhere else on the planet except in the Americas. Not in Asia, not in Europe, not in Africa or anywhere else except the Western Hemisphere!

They are the undisputed avian aerobatic flight champions, masters at hovering and the only birds able to fly backwards and upside down!

They have the fastest heart rate; wing beat and metabolism; and the largest heart, in proportion to their body size, of any bird!

A large heart, but a really small brain, the smallest of any bird…about the size of a BB! But it’s a good brain, capable of navigating thousands of miles to migrate back to the exact same feeder year after year!

Did you know that hummingbirds can fly 30 mph?! They travel about 23 miles per day. Those that make the 500 miles flight from Yucatan all the way to Florida, can do so in about 18-22 hours non-stop, depending on wind conditions.

And the smallest of all birds has one of the biggest appetites…ingesting from ½ to 8 times their body weight in solid food and liquid every day. Think about how much we would have to eat if we ate eight times our body weight per day!! That would be a lot!!

As for that “solid” food…they use the flexible tip of their bill to capture insects and insect eggs from the ground and on plants. They love spiders  and spider eggs. And as for the “liquid” portion, their forked, open-grooved tongues lap up nectar from the feeders and flowers at an amazing 12 times a second!

Do you have your feeder out yet?

by Tabatha Hummel & Caitlin Foschini, Owners of Wild Birds Unlimited