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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    by Frank Barch, Sat, 02 Jan 2021
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