Saturday, April 1, 2017

The Amazing Hummer

If you live in the Western hemisphere, perhaps this summer you'll see hummingbirds flitting about in a garden or at a feeder. You have to be in the Western hemisphere to see hummingbirds, at least in the wild, because they only occur in this part of the world.

Hummingbirds are among the most beautiful and amazing creatures on earth. They're the smallest birds and the only birds which can fly backwards.

Another fascinating thing about these tiny creatures is how they feed. You can't really see it with the naked eye because it happens so fast and their beaks are buried deep in a flower when they feed, but their tongues are amazingly engineered to take up nectar.

This short video clip illustrates how they do it:
If you see a hummingbird feeding this spring or summer remember what's going on inside that little bird's beak and tongue. You'll likely come away with a much deeper appreciation for these diminutive gems.

This BBC clip gives lovely close-ups of the amazing phenomenon of hummingbird flight. Note how the hummingbird can fly both backwards and sideways. They can also fly upside down, and are the only kind of bird in the world that can do all this. Their wings beat an astonishing 70 times a second in normal flight and they weigh about as much as a penny.
Some additional interesting facts about these birds include the following:
  • The bright radiant color on hummingbirds comes from iridescent coloring like on a soap bubble or prism.
  • They're very smart and they can remember every flower they have visited and how long it will take a flower to refill.
  • They have little to no sense of smell.
  • They have very weak feet and can barely walk. They prefer to fly.
  • They do not mate for life.
  • They have an average life span of about 5 years but can live for more than 10 years.
  • A hummingbird will visit an average of 1,000 flowers per day for nectar.
  • They eat small soft bugs for protein.
  • A hummingbird will lap up nectar at a rate of about 13 licks per second.
  • There are more than 300 types or species of hummingbirds. Most of which are found in South America.
  • There are more than fifteen (15) types or species of hummingbirds that breed in the United States.
  • Ruby-Throated Hummingbirds, the only species which breeds in the eastern U.S., have been known to travel 500 miles over the Gulf of Mexico to breeding grounds, a 20 hour non-stop trip.
You can find more facts about hummingbirds at the link.