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.

 

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    • We thought it was cool to learn that a hummingbird’s “hum” was made by their fast-flapping wings, too, Jaclyn! Thanks so much for visiting today’s Wonder and leaving us this GREAT comment! :-)

  1. It’s cool to think how hummingbirds hum. I like the way they fly. Hummingbirds are awesome. Can’t wait for tomorrow’s!

    • We agree, Becca…hummingbirds ARE awesome! Thanks for stopping by today’s Wonder of the Day® and sharing your comment with us! We can’t wait to learn interesting new things from tomorrow’s Wonder, either! :-)

  2. I see hummingbirds where I live a lot! They are soooo pretty. They fly so fast, it’s hard to see sometimes.. Could you do a wonder about sports sometime like dirt bike racing?

    • Hi, Morgan! We think a Wonder about dirt bike racing is a GREAT idea! Thanks for suggesting it! Did you know we have LOTS of Wonders about sports? Here they are (you can scroll down to see more, and use the arrow navigation at the bottom of the page to explore even MORE!): http://wonderopolis.org/category/sports/. :-)

  3. During the summer, I hang up some flowers and some of that stuff that you put in hummingbird feeders (I forget what it’s called), and I sit outside, watch and listen to them. They are so fun to learn about!

    • We like putting out hummingbird feeders and food (nectar) in Wonderopolis and watching the hummingbirds, too, Katlyn! Thank you for sharing your personal connection to today’s Wonder of the Day®! :-)

  4. Wow, what a cool wonder! We were amazed by the Hummingbird facts, especially how fast it flaps its wings. Did you know about a Bee Hummingbird? The video was awesome and very neat to watch. Do you know where Hummingbirds are commonly found? Since a Hummingbird can eat twice its weight, how much does it weigh? Thanks for another awesome wonder! We think tomorrow’s wonder is about one of our favorite chewy treats, GUM. Looking forward to tomorrow!

  5. Cool! I think tomorrow’s wonder is about gum! I thought you would have one about the Titanic! P.S. I’m doing the play Oliver Twist in reading, and do you have any wonders related to that? Thanks! Bye!

    • Hi, Missy! We don’t have any Wonders about Oliver Twist yet, but we think a future Wonder of the Day® about the works of Charles Dickens sounds like a GREAT idea! Have fun reading the play…it’s AWESOME! :-)

    • Thanks so much for sharing what you think about hummingbirds, Saad! We really appreciate your comment and are SUPER happy you stopped by Wonderopolis today! :-)

    • We WONDER if there are hummingbirds that live in your area, John? Maybe if you made a cool hummingbird feeder (like the one in the link found in today’s Wonder), some new little friends might flutter by for a visit! Thanks for leaving us this comment today! :-)

  6. Kyle from Mrs. Phillip’s class was WONDERING Do Humming Birds Really Hum? Kyle-Do humming birds really hum? That’s cool. (:

    • Hi, Caelah (and Kyle)! Thank you BOTH for visiting today’s Wonder to find out if hummingbirds really hum! Have a WONDERful day! :-)

    • We’re glad you thought today’s Wonder was COOL, buglover! We think you are a really COOL Wonder Friend for saying so! :-)

  7. I like hummingbirds. It sounds really soft like a feather. (Elijah)

    I love hummingbirds. I like when their wings go fast! (Greta)

    Have a great day Wonderopolis!

    Mr. Fines and the KF Dragons! YO!

    • Thanks for sharing what you like about hummingbirds, Elijah and Greta! We like those things about them, too! We really appreciate the AWESOME comments we get from the KF Dragons crew…you guys make us SMILE! :-)

    • Thanks for sharing one of the fun facts you learned about hummingbirds by exploring this Wonder today, Jon! :-)

    • Yes, they sure do “hum” with their wings, Kevin! Thank you for sharing something you know about hummingbirds with your friends in Wonderopolis today! :-)

    • Hi, Grace! We’re sure happy you visited Wonderopolis today! Thanks for letting us know you were here by leaving us this GREAT comment! :-)

    • Well, we think YOU are COOL for hanging out in Wonderopolis today and learning about hummingbirds with us, Tessa! We hope you have a WONDERful Wednesday! :-)

    • We think your comment ROCKS, Jared T N! It makes us really happy to hear when our Wonder Friends enjoy the Wonder of the Day®! :-)

    • Hi, Terry! We appreciate your passion for WONDERing about Legos! Keep checking Wonderopolis…we think there will be a Wonder coming up in the near future that you will find EXTRA interesting! :-)

    • A Wonder about turtles is a GREAT idea, Tyler! Thanks for suggesting it…and THANK YOU for being a friend of Wonderopolis! :-)

  8. Señora Waingort’s class says,
    We really like your video.
    Hummingbirds make the same sound as bees when they’re flying.
    Why do hummingbirds have really long beaks?
    In the video, it was funny when the hummingbird went in and out of the camera.
    Some of us like hummingbirds.
    Hummingbirds fly very fast.
    Some of us think the hummingbirds look really pretty. We think hummingbirds are cute.
    How far can a hummingbird fly with its wings?
    We think it’s cool that hummingbirds can fly upside down.

    • WOW! That is some AMAZING WONDERing about hummingbirds, Señora Waingort’s class! We are SUPER proud of you guys! We enjoyed learning so many fun facts about hummingbirds by exploring today’s Wonder, and we’re SO HAPPY to hear that you did, too! :-)

  9. It’s Me Again… I Commented On Yesterday’s Wonder! I Love Hummingbirds. There Is One Teasing My Dog As You Read This! Oh, And Love The Wonder! :)

    • Thanks for letting us know about the ice cream, Eric! We appreciate that you tried your best! We think it’s amazing how fast hummingbirds do EVERYTHING…fly, move, eat…they are AWESOME! :-)

  10. Wonderopolis,
    My topic was do Hummingbirds really hum? I learned that they do along with other great things. They can only eat nectar from flowers and they can lick 13 times a second. I also learned they beat there wings 200 times an hour. I wonder what predators could catch a bird that is that fast.

    Team Unger 4

    • That’s a GREAT question, Team Unger 14! Now you have US WONDERing what type of fast predators could catch a hummingbird! :-)

    • We think it’s really AWESOME that you left us this COOL comment today, Claire! You are a GREAT Wonder Friend! :-)

    • Hummingbirds really ARE fabulous creatures, Jeanette! Thank you for visiting this Wonder of the Day® and sharing your knowledge about them, and also for sharing a link to those fun activity sheets on your website! :-)

    • We really appreciate all the AWESOME “wow” comments you have left for us, Wow Girl! Thanks for letting us know you liked the videos for Wonders #555, #545 and #554! You ROCK! :-)

  11. I wonder if you got a certain hummingbird to associate good things like sugar water with humans. Then you could maybe get them to perch on your shoulder or something like that.

    • We think that might work, Clayton! The hummingbird in the video for this Wonder trusted the man enough to do get close to him and eat from his hand! We think it was cool how the bird acted like the man was his friend! :-)

    • That’s a WONDERful question, Serena! We’re not sure what hummingbirds like most, but we know most of them LOVE nectar and sugar water! We bet they like it because it gives them LOTS of energy to do all that “humming” with their wings while they are flying so fast! :-)

  12. Hey wonderopolis, I love your site! 2 new facts I learned are hummingbirds can flap there wings 60 to 200 hundred times per second. Also I learned that there are over 300 different types of hummingbirds. Some important vocabulary are hummingbird and species. A question I had is “what color are hummingbirds?”. Thank you for this wonder topic!

    • Thanks for sharing the neat facts and vocab words you learned by exploring this Wonder about hummingbirds, Team Unger 18! We’re glad to hear that you like learning in Wonderopolis! We’re pretty sure hummingbirds come in all sorts of beautiful colors! :-)

    • We’re glad you think this Wonder is cool, Michelle…we do, too! We think the hummingbird was probably used to the man coming around and feeding it. What we can’t see in the video is how long it took the hummingbird to become comfortable and not scared to be close to a human. It might have taken days or weeks (or even months!). Thanks for asking such a WONDERful question! :-)

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Have you ever wondered…

  • Do hummingbirds really hum?
  • How fast do hummingbirds flap their wings?
  • Where do most hummingbirds live?

Wonder Gallery

hummingbird_shutterstock_80097604Vimeo Video

Try It Out

Ready to attract some hummingbirds to your yard? If you already have a hummingbird feeder, fill it up with hummingbird food. Be sure to place it an area where hummingbirds will feel safe from predators, such as cats.

If you don’t already have a hummingbird feeder, you can buy an inexpensive one at a local store. If you want to do a fun project together as a family, you can also make your own homemade hummingbird feeder.

Check out this Hummingbird Feeder video online, and then ask an adult to help you with this project. You may need to go to the store to get a few inexpensive items. You will find a list of materials and instructions online at the link above.

Hummingbirds are sure to love your feeder. And you’ll have some great times watching them eat and fly around your yard. If you want to make your own homemade hummingbird nectar, just click through and follow the directions!

 

Still Wondering

In Science NetLinks’ Bird Beaks lesson, children can explore the relationship between a bird’s beak and its ability to find food and survive in a given environment.

 

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