Have you ever heard the distinct sound a hummingbird makes as they dart back and forth and feed? Someone compared the sound to one a bumblebee who’s high on caffeine. If you are lucky enough to live in the western hemisphere, you might have seen these tiny marvels of nature zipping and zooming around the flowers in your garden during spring and summer. Many people hang hummingbird feeders to attract these gorgeous birds just to be able to watch these beauties come and eat. If you are unable to see them live, you can also enjoy them thanks to the magic of the internet and a hummingbird live cam.
Hummingbirds are fascinating creatures with many unique qualities, including physical features and even some quirky mannerisms that may surprise you.
Hummingbirds Are Super Small
Hummingbirds are the tiniest of all species of birds. There are over 300 species of the hummingbird and the smallest one, the bee hummingbird, weighs only as much as a quarter of a teaspoon of sugar. The eggs laid by hummingbirds are also the tiniest, roughly the size of a pea, and their nests are as small as half of a walnut shell.
Hummingbirds Are Big Eaters
Despite their diminutive size, hummingbirds have humongous appetites. Hummingbirds have very high metabolism and eat literally all day to be able to survive. They eat over half their own body weight in bugs and nectar every day. They have to eat every 10 to 15 minutes and visit up to two thousand flowers to get their daily fill of nectar. In addition to nectar, hummingbirds feed on beetles, gnats, ants, mosquitoes, aphids, and other small insects.
Hummingbirds Are Very Agile
Hummingbirds have the most unique flight patterns. They can manoeuvre better than any other bird. They can fly backwards and forwards, up and down, and even fly upside down. They are also the only bird capable of hovering in one spot in the air.
Hummingbirds Are Very Quick
In addition to their agility, hummingbirds also have remarkable stamina and speed. They can fly as fast as 45 miles per hour. It is not just their flying speed that is fast, their body parts are also very fast. A hummingbird’s wings flap 70 times every second during normal flight and over 200 times a second while diving. Similarly, their hearts beat 225 times every minute while resting and over 1,200 times a minute during flight.
Hummingbirds Are Mean Birds
Hummingbirds are anti-social and mean to each other. While competing for food sources, they are known to drive away other hummingbirds. You can see this as one bird chasing away others if it feels that they are encroaching on their space. They also get quite violent during mating season, when male birds prove their dominance by stabbing other prospective male suitors in the throat with their sharp needle like beaks.
Hummingbirds Are Smart
Hummingbirds have big brains. On average a hummingbird’s brain constitutes 4.2 percent of its overall weight. Proportionately that is the largest body to brain ratio amongst all birds. Even human brains are only 2 percent of our weight. Research has also shown that hummingbirds remember every flower they have ever fed at, and calculate how long to wait between visits to allow the flower time to produce more nectar.