hummingbird facts about the little birds with a big reputation

One of our lucky hummingbird facts is they live only in the Americans, from Alaska to the tip of South America.

Hummingbirds live from the deserts to the mountains, wherever they can to find food.

Hummingbirds like trumpet shaped flowers, hummingbird factsHummer on Trumpet Vine

Amazing Hummingbird facts

  • The hummingbird's heart beats 500 times per minute.
  • During high activity it may beat up to 1200 times per minute.
  • They eat about twice their body weight in flower nectar every day!
  • They may eat five to ten times an hour.

how big are hummingbirds?

  • The Bee Hummingbird from Cuba, is the smallest bird in the world at a little over 2".
  • Most hummingbirds are from 3" to 4". Two in the United States are around 5", the Magnificent Hummingbird and Blue-throat.
  • The Giant Hummingbird is over 8". It lives high in the mountains of South America.

what is a gorget?

Beautiful iridescent colors are one of the hummingbird facts that attract us.

Hummingbirds have gorgeous Gorget colorsGorget Colors

These beautiful living jewels are a marvelous gift from God.

They display brilliant iridescent, jewel-like colors, as they flit and fly in the sunlight.

  • The most spectacular colors are seen on the gorget - their throat.

Red, purple or orange are common gorget colors.

Iridescent colors of a hummingbird's bodyIridescent body colors

Hummingbirds must turn directly to the light to show their brilliant colors. In indirect light their colors look very dark.

  • Their body feathers are mostly iridescent shades of green.

Green is a great color to help them with camouflage.

They would be a tasty treat for predators, if they could see them.

learn about the ruby-throated hummingbird

What Do Hummingbird Eat?

Hummingbird's main food is flower nectar. They also eat small insects and spiders for protein.

  • Trumpet shaped flowers are high on their want list because they contain more nectar.

One of the best known facts about hummingbirds is that hummingbirds like red. Red flowers and red on their feeders will attract hummingbirds.

How Do Hummingbirds Eat?

Hummingbirds don't suck nectar into their bill like a straw.

Hummingbird Eating from a red trumpet flowerRed Attracts Hummingbirds
  • One of the unknown hummingbird facts is that they lap the nectar on the end of their forked tongue.

Today many people are making food for hummingbirds. Is making hummingbird nectar difficult? Nope, it is very easy.

The hummingbirds appreciate the food and we get to see them up close. Plant some flowers for the hummingbirds, too.

Native plants for birds

can birds fly backward?

  • Hummingbirds are the only birds with the ability to fly backward.

A few bird can fly backward in a defensive measure, but they can't actually fly backward.

Hummingbirds have the muscles and shoulder structure that enables them to move their wings in a figure eight. So they can fly backward and upside down.

Diagram of a hummingbird flying forwardFlying Forward

Hummingbirds move their wings up to 200 strokes per minute.

Their wings move so fast, we can't see them.

They fly forward in a horizontal flying position, just like other birds.

You can hear their wings hu-u-m-ming when they fly by.

Hummingbird hovering to feedHovering to Feed

Hummingbirds feed while they are hovering like a helicopter.

They move their body into a 45-degree angle.

Their wings beat horizontally from front to back.

Then they are able to eat while they are still flying.

Hummingbird flying backwardsFlying Backward

Hummingbirds are the only birds that have the ability to fly backwards.

When they fly backward, they drop their body vertical.

They move their wings in a circular motion up over their heads.

What amazing hummingbird flight!

hummingbird migration facts

One of the best hummingbird facts is they spend their summers here in the United States. We get to feed and enjoy them all summer.

  • Then in the fall some hummingbirds fly south to Mexico or Central America.
Anna's hummingbirds stay all year on the west coast

Hummingbirds don't migrate in flocks like most other birds do.

They migrate all by themselves, so it’s not easy for predators to spot them. They fly only during daylight hours.

An amazing hummingbird fact is how far the hummingbirds fly

  • Rufous fly all the way from Alaska to Mexico over 2,000 miles.
  • Some Calliope fly over 2,700 miles.
  • Ruby-throated hummingbirds fly non-stop across the Caribbean to Mexico and Central America around 500 miles.

Anna's Hummingbirds don't migrate. Also, some of the Allen's and Costa's remain in the U.S. without migrating.

do butterflies migrate?

Feeding Before Migration

Hummingbird feeding at feederWhite-eared Hummer

Hummingbirds store up extra fat before their migration. It's important to keep your feeders full during migration time.

The adult male hummers leave earlier in the fall before the females and juveniles.

Don't take the feeders down for at least 2 weeks after you see the last hummingbird at the feeder. That way any hummers that are late migrating will be able to find food. 

All hummers except Ruby-throated Hummingbirds, make stops on the way to refuel.

What Is Torpor?

Rare Albino Ruby-throat HummingbirdRare Albino Ruby-throat

One of the most interesting hummingbird facts is the way they conserve energy.

Hummingbirds can die if they don't have enough food to support their high metabolism.

  • Hummingbirds are able to slow down their metabolic rate. This is called torpor.

When it is cold, when their food supply is low, or when they need to save energy during migration. They commonly enter torpor at night.

When they enter torpor, their body temperature drops 20 to 50 degrees lower and their heart beat lowers from the normal 500 beats per minute to 50 to 180 beats per minute.

This amazing fact about hummingbirds enables them to conserve food reserves.

Females rarely enter torpor while they are nesting, because their temperature would go too low to keep their eggs warm.

hummingbird nests

An interesting fact about hummingbirds is the female builds their nest. Hummingbird males are rarely seen building a nest or feeding babies.

She builds it out of grass, small leaves, roots, pine needles, animal fur, moss, furry plant parts, insect cocoons and spider webs.

Camouflaged hummingbird on nestCamouflaged hummingbird on nest
Image by sharonjoy17 from Pixabay

When the nest is held together with spider webs, it has the ability to expand as the babies grow.

The nests are cup shaped, barely two inches in diameter. She camouflages the outside of the nest with bark, lichens or moss.

Depending on the species, the nests are near the ground or up to 60 to 70 feet above the ground.

Sometimes she will recycle an old nest. Otherwise it takes her about a week to build a nest.

  • She generally lays two eggs less than a half an inch in size. In about two weeks, the babies hatch. They are naked and blind when hatched.

After they hatch, mom feeds them small insects and slowly adds nectar.

In about four weeks, they fly from the nest. Mom will continue to feed them another two or three weeks until they are completely independent.

how long do hummingbirds live?

  • Hummingbirds live on the average of four to five years.

They return to the same area and sometimes to the same nest and feeders they used the year before.

Hummingbirds are such a joy. Its fun learning hummingbird facts.

What an amazing garden gift the hummingbirds are! They are free for all of us to enjoy.

facts about butterflies

related pages

  • Types of Hummingbirds

    What hummingbirds visit the United States? 15 types of hummingbirds with photos, information and identification tips, black chinned, ruby throated hummingbirds

  • Hummingbird Flowers

    Planting a garden with hummingbird flowers will attract the hummingbirds. 20 flowers for hummingbirds that will bring the joy of hummingbirds to your yard.

  • Ruby throated Hummingbird

    The tiny Ruby throated Hummingbird flies across the Caribbean. It populates the eastern United States. Identify, where they sleep, what they eat, baby Ruby throats

  • Attracting Hummingbirds

    Tried and true methods for attracting hummingbirds, invite these amazing birds to your garden with hummingbird feeders, nectar flowers, safe habitat and water.

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