Hummingbirds, the small, charming and colorful birds are native to America. In biological taxonomy, they belong to order Apodiformes and family Trochilidae. More than 360 species of this beautiful bird are known till date. They occur from Alaska and a vast majority of the species is found in the tropics. From characteristics to behaviors, hummingbird is incredible and truly amazing. Lets us share some of the mind-blowing and interesting hummingbird facts that you probably didn’t know before:
Top 21 hummingbird facts you probably didn’t know before!!Let 's start!
1. Now native to America - Hummingbirds existed in Europe about 30 million years ago!!As per the American Bird's Conservancy, hummingbirds existed in Europe some 30 million years ago. In 2004, archeologists found fossil records of hummingbirds in Germany as well.
2. There are more than 360 species of hummingbirds!!Hummingbirds are small, light weight, colorful and really charming birds. There are at least 360 species of this bird, with most species measuring 7.5–13 cm (3–5 inches) in length. Of these 360 species, six species are most common. These include
- Rufous, Calliope
- Anna’s hummingbird
3. Average lifespan!!Hummingbirds have average lifespan of 5 years but some species are known to have lifespan up to 10 years.
4. Hummingbird has “w” shaped tongue!!Hummingbird has grooved and “W” shaped tongue that helps it to drink nectar from the flowers. It also has tiny spikes or hair-like strictures on tongue, just like cats.
5. Hummingbirds are also known as "the flying jewels"!!Hummingbirds are small in size. On average, they have less than 1,000 feathers which are quite less than other bird’s species. Hummingbirds are also known as “the flying jewels”. The reason is that they can change their feather colors during flight.
6. Smallest hummingbird is lighter than a dime!!Of all the 360 species, the bee hummingbird is the smallest; not only in all species but it’s the smallest bird in the world. Moreover, it’s lighter than a dime. This tiny feathery fellow is native to Cuba. It measures only 2 inches of length. The female bee hummingbird is quite larger than the male. The average weight of female bee hummingbird is 2.6 grams and male weighs around 1.95 grams. A baby hummingbird is just the size of a penny.
7. Not all the hummingbirds are small!!A general perception is that the hummingbirds are always small. However, there are larger species of hummingbirds as well. Giant Hummingbird, native to Andes, is “huge” as compared to commonly known hummingbirds. Its size is 8 inches long. Similarly, the Swallow-tailed Hummingbird and Marvelous Spatuletail species are approximately 6.5 inches long; though it’s due to long tail feathers.
8. Interesting Hummingbird facts – they cannot walk!!Almost all the bird species can walk though the primary mode of locomotion is flight. However, hummingbirds cannot walk even. Instead, they can only perch or scoot sideways. Hummingbirds hails from bird order “Apodiformes” that means “footless”. They have tiny feet which reduce drag in flight, making them more aerodynamic.
9. Hummingbirds visit hundreds of flowers daily and they keep a reminder of all!!Though they are small in size, but hummingbirds have quite high energy demands. Therefore, it visits hundreds of flowers daily. The Ruby-throated Hummingbird can visit more than 1,000 flowers daily in between sunrise and sunshine. And it’s amazing that this tiny creature keeps the record of bloom peaks and the flowers it has visited. Their brain makes 4.2% of total body weight. A larger portion of their brain comprises of hippocampus; the part of brain associated to learning and memory. On the other hand, the hummingbirds play vital role for pollination, as the pollens stick to their feet, beaks and feathers and then transferred to other flowers. It’s like they “pay back” to flowers for their nectar.
10. You’ll be amazed to know about hummingbirds' heartbeats!!This is one of incredible hummingbird facts. A Blue-throated Mountain-gem's heart beat is unbelievably high; its 1,260 beats per minute. Costa's Hummingbird's heartbeat ranges from 500 - 900 beats per minute. On the other hand, a human heart beats 60 to 100 beats per minute on average. Also read: Interesting facts about budgies
11. They beat their wings 60 to 80 times per second!!Hummingbirds are known for their incredibly swift flight. In fact, the name comes from the humming sound their wings make when they fly. On average, a hummingbird beats its wings about 60 to 80 times per second. Moreover, their shoulder joint is quite flexible. They can rotate their wings to 180 degree, which enables backward flight and stationary hovering. Hummingbirds are the only bird species that can fly both in forward and backward direction.
12. They fly at an incredibly high pace!!This tiny bird flies at an average speed of 25-30 miles per hour. Moreover, they can dive at average speed of around 50 miles per hour.
13. Hummingbirds can “regulate” their heartbeat!!Another interesting hummingbird’s fact is that they can regulate their heartbeat when they need. When in the state of inactivity called as “torpor”, hummingbirds can limit their heartbeat to just 50 beats per minute in order to preserve energy in cold weather. It preserves about 60% of energy.
14. It’s not easy to wake them up when they are in torpor state!!Hummingbirds can be mistaken as dead when in state of torpor. Even if you touch them, it’s unlikely for them to wake up. You will be amazed to know that it may take around 20 minutes to one hour for a hummingbird wake up from this dormant state. Even after waking up from torpor state, the hummingbird consumes only 25% of their food daily. This helps them to restore energy and store essential nutrients.
15. Hummingbirds are known for their incredible migration journeys!!Like most of the other birds, hummingbirds migrate to faraway places when the season changes. The Calliope Hummingbird is the smallest long-distance bird. It is known for its incredible migratory journey that is more than 5,000 miles annually. Another species of hummingbird, the Rufous Hummingbird covers more than 3,900-mile-long migratory journey. It mostly stays in the western half of the United States, from Alaska to the south to Mexico when season changes.
16. They can migrate in daylight and dark as well!!During the migration period, they can continue their journey in daylight as well as in dark. Moreover, their sight is better than humans and they can see objects in ultraviolet light.
17. Not all species of hummingbird migrate!Yes. There are some hummingbird’s species which do not migrate in winters. There may be other reasons, but apparently, they prefer hibernation mode instead of migration. For example, a few of Anna’s Hummingbird species do not migrate and they stay in native region of the northwestern coast of the United States.
18. They are solitary migrants!!Hummingbirds do not migrate in flocks. Instead they are solitary migrants.
19. A flock of hummingbird is called??Different terms are used to describe the flock of hummingbirds. It is termed as “a bouquet, a glittering, a hover, a shimmer, or a tune.”
20. Hummingbirds have no sense of smell; they are attracted by flower colors!!It’s interesting that hummingbirds do not have sense of smell. However, their incredible color vision enables them to locate the food source. Also, they prefer bright colored flowers particularly red and orange flowers.
21. They can suck nectar twice their body weight!!When drinking nectar, hummingbird moves its tongue in and out for at least 13 times per second. With this fast speed, they can consume up to double their body weight daily. So these were some incredible and amazing hummingbird facts. Stay tuned for more amazing fun facts. . Pictures courtesy: