An amazingly agile helicopter of a bird
Teeny, tiny (the smallest is just 1.95 grams), with long bills and sword-like wings, humming birds are the acrobats of the bird world.
These jewel-colored animals have wings that can beat 80 times per second, which is so fast, it makes a buzzing or “humming sound.” With their fast-beating wings, they move up, down, sideways and every direction. In fact, they are the only vertebrates that hover in place, and they can fly backwards and upside down, too!
Much of their waking life is spent in search of food. Many rely on plants and flowers to feed, so they’ll migrate to warmer climates during fall and winter. But some can also hover in the air and eat tiny bugs.
Since they’re so fast, they burn enormous amounts of energy. They are one of the few groups of birds that don’t technically “sleep”; instead they go into a state called torpor. Torpor is a lot like hibernation, except hummingbirds can go in and out of torpor any night of the year.
Hummingbirds lay the tiniest eggs, too. Like the dodo, they usually lay just one at a time, maybe two. Each egg is about the size of a pea and the nest is about the size of a walnut. Some hummingbird nests are made of spider webs and other plant material.
If you want to attract or help hummingbirds in your own backyard, you can plant hummingbird friendly plants, like columbine, coral honeysuckle or bee balm.
- There are 328 species of hummingbird.
- They come in all colors of the rainbow.
- It’s fearless and will even chase hawks out of its territory.
- Hovering in front of a flower to sip nectar, the Hummingbird beats its wings more than 50 times per second.
- Hummingbird wings can beat both up and down (most birds can only beat down).
- Hummingbird wings are also mostly made up of hand bones, instead of arm bones, like other birds.
- Thousands of plants rely on hummingbirds for pollination.
- Males are usually colored more brightly than females.