Apr 2, 2015 | Featured in: Watching Backyard Birds, April 2015

Cool Hummingbird Facts!

Did you know? It has been estimated that hummingbirds sometimes visit 1,000 flowers a day to collect nectar.
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You don't need to be a bird expert to know that hummingbirds are cool! Check out this list of facts about these flying jewels of the bird world.

  • The smallest bird in the world is the bee hummingbird, native to Cuba. It measures only 2 inches from bill tip to tail tip.
  • The largest hummingbird in the world is the giant hummingbird, a resident of the Andes. It is 8½ inches in length, or about two inches smaller than a robin.
  • There are several species of nectar-drinking moths that resemble hummingbirds, called hummingbird moths. Note: Hummingbirds don't have antennae, but moths do!
  • In a normal day of feeding, hummingbirds consume more than their body weight in nectar and insects.
  • Hummingbird tongues are shaped like a W, with twin canals. The tip is forked, with featherlike edges.
  • Hummingbirds require more energy to live than any other warm-blooded animal. Among birds, they have the highest normal body temperature, proportionally the largest brain and heart, the highest heart rate, and the fastest wingbeats.
  • Hummingbirds can fly horizontally up to 30 miles per hour, but males descending in their courtship display can dive at speeds of 60 mph.
  • Hummingbird eggs are as tiny as the eraser on a No. 2 pencil.
  • The female alone builds the nest, incubates and tends to the young.
  • Hummingbird nests are constructed of spider webs, fluffy plant fibers, and animal hair. The outside is often camouflaged with lichen, moss, bark, or leaves.
  • It takes about three weeks from hatching until fledging. Fledglings remain dependent upon their mom for food for about one more week.
  • Young male hummingbirds resemble females until the following spring.
  • Fewer than 35 percent of hummingbird fledglings survive their first year.
  • The old-age record for any wild, banded hummingbird is 12 years, but such geriatric birds are extreme exceptions.
  • During cool weather at night, hummingbirds go into a state of mini-hibernation, called torpor. The bird's body temperature drops significantly; its heart rate slows, and its metabolism runs at as little as 1/50th that of an active bird.

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  • I have experienced this when a house wren punctured 5 blue bird eggs last spring in our blue bird box. Then I hung out a wren box by the trees and he got busy filling it and left the bluebirds alone and they successfully raised another brood!
    by Susan, Sun, 07 Apr 2019
  • I also have several turkeys that live in the woods behind me. They visit early morning and near sundown. Living in the country with a mountain and brook behind my house, I have animals visiting 24hrs a day. My turkeys are awesome. They know me and wait for their breakfast. They hop up on my patio wall to look in my windows. I also noticed the 2 birds that are the lookouts. They come over to eat as the others march across my lawn to my neighbor who also feeds the animals. We also have coyotes that, I am sure, have eaten turkey dinner. The squirrels run around and chase them to protect their seeds and cracked corn. I feed my 3 raccoons peanut butter jelly sandwiches, which they share with a possum and 3 skunks, at the same time, by the way. No food goes into my garbage. Meat scraps go to crows and hawks. Everything else, even soup, gets eaten before the sun is completely set. That keeps bears away if no dishes are there to entice. I break up bread in tiny pieces now and turkeys 'gobble' it up. So happy to find another person that enjoys wildlife. Nothing is more satisfying than walking out side and spotting Daisy the skunk, calling her name and watching her tripping all over herself, running to meet you. Thank you for your valuable information.
    by Stella Kachur, Wed, 27 Mar 2019
  • This is exactly my experience. The local feed store had some on sale so I thought I'd try some. Actually I was shocked at how it is avoided, and I've been feeding birds for more than 40 years. I suppose I've never had it out as the ONLY food source, but when I put it out along with the blackoil, peanuts, cracked corn and suet cakes, absolutely nothing would touch it. Even when I dumped some on the ground the rabbits wouldn't eat it, nor would the squirrels. Eventually some turkeys and deer ate some--when they could find nothing else underneath the other feeders. But even they left plenty on the ground which they NEVER do with cracked corn, sunflower, etc.Every person should try some if they're inclined and decide for themselves since every situation may be a bit different, but for me/my species, safflower is a big no.
    by Colin Croft, Sun, 03 Mar 2019
  • I have questions about the Zick Dough? It says not to use in cold weather. It is still in the 40s here. Too soon? How long should I expect a supply to last? And, use a tray feeder? Thanks.
    by martindf, Sun, 25 Nov 2018
  • Glad I found this. I'm a snowbird and was worried about all the birds that come to feed at my birdfeeder. I have Cardinals, sparrows, doves, Blue Jays, chickadees. I hope they'll find food elsewhere while I'm gone.
    by Donna, Sat, 03 Nov 2018