If you notice tiny birds that seem to hover over flowers as they feed on their nectar, you’re probably seeing hummingbirds. Hummingbirds are small birds with colorful feathers that seem to shine.
Hummingbirds didn’t get their name from their singing voices. Instead, their name comes from the fact that they create a humming sound when they fly.
Hummingbirds can fly in any direction — forward, backward, up, down, side-to-side and even upside down — and they do so by flapping their wings at an incredible rate of between 60-200 times per second.
When they feed on the nectar of flowers, they have to hover above the flower. They do this by flapping their wings in a figure-8 pattern. Their long and slender bills allow them to reach nectar from deep inside long flowers.
They also have long tongues that can lick up nectar at a rate of about 13 licks per second. The next time you have an ice cream cone, try licking it 13 times in only one second!
If nectar isn’t available, they’ll also eat insects, tree sap and pollen. Hummingbirds have to eat often, because their fast breathing and heart rate, along with a high body temperature, uses lots of energy.
There are over 300 different species of hummingbirds, and they all live in the Western Hemisphere. Most live in tropical areas year-round.
At least 12 species, though, spend their summers in North America. Hummingbirds are a delight to most bird lovers in the United States. Hummingbird feeders are a common sight in many yards. It can be lots of fun to watch hummingbirds hover around feeders waiting for their turn to sip the artificial nectar (sugar water) inside.
Here some fun hummingbird facts you can share with your friends and family:
- Hummingbirds are the smallest birds and the smallest animals with backbones.
- Hummingbirds can eat up to twice their body weight in nectar every day.
- Hummingbirds can perch on feeders, but their feet are not used for walking or hopping.
- Hummingbirds can fly up to 60 miles per hour.