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Sunday, April 21, 2024

Hummingbirds and their astounding characteristics

Hummingbirds are incredible creatures, possessing unique characteristics that surprise humankind with their abilities. From black-chinned, Allen’s, rufous, to broad-tailed hummingbirds, all the species have unique features, including the colour combinations. Below are a few interesting facts about this species that are sure to astonish you:

The hummingbird

The Physical Features

  • Many people believe that the throat colour of a hummingbird is due to feather pigmentation. However, it is due to the iridescence in the arrangement of the feathers.
  • Hummingbirds have the least number of feathers, approximately 1,000 to 5,000.
  • These mesmerising birds have evolved to have smaller feet for efficient flying. They do not walk or hop and use their feet mostly for preening and itching.
  • Almost 30 percent of the bird’s weight is in its pectoral muscles, responsible for flying.
  • The heart rate of a hummingbird varies drastically with humans. These birds’ average heart rate is more than 1,200 beats per minute, whereas a human’s average heart rate is 60 to 100.
  • The tiny birds lay the most miniature eggs among all birds. Their eggs measure half an inch long, representing 10 percent of the mother’s weight.
  • These birds do not have a sense of smell.
  • They have very keen eyesight and have better hearing skills than humans.

Food Habits

  • These birds have tongues in the shape of a W, which they use to lick the nectar. Unlike other birds, they do not suck nectar through bills. They lick almost 15 times per second during feeding.
  • An average hummingbird consumes one-half of its weight in sugar regularly, which means they feed five to eight times per hour. Apart from the nectar, they eat spiders and other insects and sip juice from broken fruits and tree saps.
  • Hummingbirds are 97 percent efficient in transforming sugar into energy. Moreover, they digest natural sucrose in floral nectar in less than 20 minutes.

Species Characteristics

  • More than 325 species of hummingbirds exist in the world. Out of these, only eight species regularly breed in the US, and the rest are tropical species. They are also found in Central and South America and throughout the Caribbean. If you think you have to go far to see this precious bird, you can now spot it on the live camera, which is sure to give you a near to real experience.
  • A lot of hummingbird species can breed together to form hybrid ones. The emergence of hybrid birds is the sole reason it becomes challenging to identify the hummingbird species readily.


  • Hummingbirds can reach up to 60 miles per hour in one dive.
  • Their wings beat in between 50 to 200 flaps per second.
  • The ruby-throated hummingbird can fly up to 500 miles nonstop across Mexico during the fall and spring migrations.

Hummingbirds, although, small-sized are an aggressive bird species. They also chase intruders away and regularly attack crows and hawks. These beautiful birds are a sight to watch, living from three to even 12 years as their average lifespan.

By Michael Bentos

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