- Hummingbirds are only found in North America, Central America & South America.
- Hummingbirds are the smallest birds in the world, ranging in size from 2 – 8”.
- Live span: they live for about 4 years
- Hummingbirds visit from 2 to 5,000 flowers a day
- Hummingbird hearts beat from 500 to 1,200 times per minute
- Hummingbird wings beat around 60 times per second
- For their size, hummingbirds have the largest heart & brain of all animals
- Hummingbirds have no sense of smell
- Hummingbirds can consume twice their weight daily
- Their color is produced by refraction of light, not by pigment
- Their average speed is 45 miles p/hour
- Their tongues are twice the length of their bills
- In addition to nectar, hummingbirds eat insects for protein
- Hummingbirds cannot walk, only perch
- Hummingbirds fly only 20% of the time
- Costa Rica has 850 different bird species and 51 species of hummingbirds.
Shop for this beautifully handcrafted Hummingbird charm.
Courtship and Reproduction
Hummingbirds are competitive and solitary creatures. Hybrid mating is relatively rare among hummingbirds. It is often the female who begins looking for the male once she has chosen a location for her nest and started to build it. Males attract females by posing, flying in particular patterns and creating vocal and wing sounds. Sometimes they dive toward females, or fly back and forth before them, showing off the iridescence of their feathers. The males also ‘possess’ territories rich in flowers and the females gain an ample food source in exchange for offering the male sole paternity rights. Intercourse is brief, though it may occur several times, but never for more than one day. The birds can actually mate while in mid-flight. Once the act has been completed, the female hummingbird lays the eggs and then hatches them on her own. She usually chooses a location that is not in a most favorable feeding area, opting for peace and quiet, even if it means relying upon insects as the staple of her diet.
The eggs are tiny, the size of jellybeans, and the average incubation is 16 days. Usually only two eggs are laid, a day apart, and the mother uses techniques to warm and shade them to maintain a constant 90 degree temperature until they are ready to hatch. It takes a little more than three weeks for hummingbird babies to grow feathers and reach their adult size, while their bills reach full size a bit later. At four weeks, the birds are ready to survive on their own.
Hummingbird food habits
Because hummingbirds have no sense of smell, they must find their food by sight. Young hummingbirds must learn to expect nectar from colored blossoms. The flowers hummingbirds use for nectar sources have evolved with them. To attract a hummingbird, a flower must be red, bloom in the daytime, be rich in nectar and lack any sort of landing pad thereby eliminating competition from other birds.
Flowers without landing pads are accessible only by hummingbirds, which can hover and feed while hanging in the air. Other flowers such as trumpet or tubular shaped blossoms provide selective feeding for the hummingbirds since only the long, narrow bill of the hummingbird is able to access the succulent nectar. Some hummingbirds feed from a single plant all day. Others have fixed feeding routes that cover large distances. They methodically fly in special patterns that define their territory. To survive, a hummingbird must consume more than its weight in food each day, which equates to between 6,000 and 12,000 calories per day. About 70% of this food comes in the form of liquefied sugar and the rest from insect protein. A hummingbird’s diet consists of nectar, sap and insects. If insects are available, a hummingbird may eat hundreds of them in one day, they may even raid a spider’s web to eat a captured insect or the spider himself. The nectar mixture in our hummingbird feeders is comprised of one part sugar, four parts water. A higher sugar content could cause cavities in their bills and obesity. Most days the entire contents of our feeders will be completely consumed by late afternoon. The birds consume 50 pounds of sugar a week.
Survival of Hummingbirds
Hummingbird survival skills must be learned by the new adults on their own, including flying, searching for food, avoiding predators, bathing and grooming.
Territoriality can become a crucial, even violent issue. The birds will stake out an area of nectar-rich flowering plants and defend it vehemently by dive-bombing and occasionally stabbing rivals with their beaks.
They include hawks, orioles, roadrunners, crows, jays and other large birds. Mice and cats can also represent a danger to baby hummingbirds and in minor cases, praying mantises and tarantulas. However, history shows that humans were its largest predators in the late nineteenth century when we killed millions of hummingbirds to use their feathers and bodies as ornaments on hats.
Migration of Hummingbird
Males migrate about three weeks earlier than females. This may be that the males are protecting the females and their young from starvation by exploring unknown territories in advance.
Because hummingbirds have very little down and body fat, they must rely on their metabolisms to keep them warm. To protect themselves from lower temperatures at night, they go into a torpid state, meaning their normal body temperature of 86 degrees can drop to as low as 70 degrees, often matching the outside air. This ability allows them to conserve energy as their heartbeat slows from a daytime high of 1,200 beats a minute to 159 beats a minute.
Similar to the bee, the hummingbird seeks nectar from flowering plants. During the process of extracting the nectar from the flower tube, pollen clings to their bill and feathers. As they visit different flowers of the same species of plant fertilization occurs and seeds are produced.