Facts About Hummingbirds

Hummingbirds are native to the New World and you will not find them outside of the Western Hemisphere, but they are one of the most fascinating species for bird lovers the world over.

Famed for their brilliant plumage and flying and hovering abilities, here are 15 fascinating facts about hummingbirds.

Broad-Tailed Hummingbird
Broad-Tailed Hummingbird

01

Worldwide there are over 325 species of hummingbirds. Just 8 species breed in the USA although up to 24 species may visit. The rest are found in Central and South America and the Caribbean.

Ruby-Throated Hummingbird
Ruby-Throated Hummingbird

02

The brilliant throat colour of hummingbirds is caused by iridescence in the arrangement of their feathers and is affected by light and moisture.

Anna's Hummingbird
Anna's Hummingbird

03

Hummingbirds have just 1,000-1,500 feathers which is the fewest number of feathers of any bird species in the world.

Rufous-Breasted Hermit
Rufous-Breasted Hermit

04

Hummingbirds are unable to walk or hop but their feet can be used to move sideways when they are perched.

Bee Hummingbird
Bee Hummingbird

05

The bee hummingbird, which is only found in Cuba is the smallest of all hummingbirds measuring just 5.7 cm in length and weighing less than 2 grams. The average weight of a hummingbird is about 3 grams.

Swallow-Tailed Hummingbird
Swallow-Tailed Hummingbird

06

A hummingbird needs to eat about half of its body weight in sugar every day and will feed approximately 5-8 times in an hour.

Black-Throated Mango
Black-Throated Mango

07

Hummingbirds digest natural sucrose in about 20 minutes with a 97% efficiency for converting the sugar into energy.

Ruby-Topaz Hummingbird
Ruby-Topaz Hummingbird

08

Hummingbirds do not suck nectar through their long bills but lick it using a forked tongue that is fringed. They can lick between 10 and 15 times a second when feeding.

Spangled Coquette
Spangled Coquette

09

When resting a hummingbird will take about 250 breaths a minute and its heart will beat about 1200 times.

Black-Billed Streamertail
Black-Billed Streamertail

10

Hummingbirds fly at a maximum of 30 mph but can reach 60 mph in a dive. A hummingbird will flap its wings between 50 and 200 times a second when in flight and they are the only group of birds with the ability to fly backwards.

Canivet's Emerald
Canivet's Emerald

11

The hummingbird lays the smallest eggs of all birds measuring just 1.3 cm. This, however, can be as much as 10% of the mother’s weight.

Violet-Capped Woodnymph
Violet-Capped Woodnymph

12

Over a quarter of a hummingbirds weight is in its pectoral muscles which help them to fly.

Golden-Tailed Sapphire
Golden-Tailed Sapphire

13

Hummingbirds have no sense of smell but they have excellent eyesight.

Sword-Billed Hummingbird
Sword-Billed Hummingbird

14

The bill of the sword-billed hummingbird, which is found in the Andes, can reach up to 4 inches long.

White-Throated Mountaingem
White-Throated Mountaingem

15

Despite their small size, hummingbirds are one of the most aggressive species of birds and will regularly attack jays, crows and hawks that encroach on their territory.

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