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Species and Types

Hummingbirds – Beautiful and Active

Rufous Hummingbird - All fired up to impress t...

Image by Rick Leche via Flickr

Hummingbirds are one of the most beautiful and active species of birds to watch; their colour and the way they dart around are so entrancing to the keen bird watcher.

There are over three hundred species of hummingbirds, native to the Americas and parts of the Carribbean. They are particularly renowned for their mid air hovering ability, sustained by the rapid flapping of their wings, between fifteen and eighty times per second, the humming sound of which gives them their name.

They are the only species of bird which can also fly backwards as well as vertically, somewhat like a vertical take off and landing aircraft. Interestingly, their feet are not useful for walking, just perching so if they want to travel, they must fly.

There are seventeen species of hummingbirds which live in the USA, mostly in the warmer parts such as Texas, California and Arizona, although some can be found in the east and others in the Rocky Mountains. Most migrate to the warmer climes of Central and South America in winter but their route and destination is very much dependent on species. (more…)

Hummingbirds the Original Helicopter

Calliope Hummingbird / Stellula calliope - fem...
Image via Wikipedia

Hummingbirds are tiny, but rather sturdy little birds. They are wonderful little creatures and each one has its own personality, not to mention attitude.

Hummingbirds are the original helicopter and are considered by many to be little clowns as they dash and dart amongst each other. They are among the smallest of all warm-blooded animals and lack the insulating downy feathers typical of many other bird species.

Hummingbirds have long narrow beaks and long thin tongues. Their tongues are incredibly long ,about 2 ½ times the length of their beaks, which are rolled at the back of their throat (the best image to describe this is like a party blower, curled at one end). Their bills come in different sizes and shapes, also.

Hummingbirds have muscular bodies, extremely flexible wings and can beat their wings about 80 beats per second. They are famous for their many aerial displays. Hummingbirds are built for power and dazzle, they are little more than flight muscles covered with feathers. They are not very social animals, which is why you never see them flying in flocks. (more…)

Learning About Hummingbirds

Perched Copper-rumped Hummingbird (Amazilia to...

Image via Wikipedia

Author: brian ramsey

Hummingbirds are a joy for a birdwatcher to observe. They are found only in the Western Hemisphere, from as far north as Southeastern Alaska and the Maritimes of Canada and as far south as Southern Chile. There are approximately 350 species of hummingbirds with 320 species found in the tropics.

Within the family of hummingbirds is found the smallest bird in the world, the Bee Hummingbird of Cuba at 2.17 inches (5.5 cm) and weight 1.95gm (0.07 oz). Hummingbirds range in size from 2 inches to 8 inches.

The hummingbird derives its name from the humming sound that is produced by its rapid wingbeat. Generally the wingbeat is so rapid that the individual only sees a blur as most of these birds flap their wings about 50 times per second.

The speed of the wingbeat depends on the size of the bird, the largest the Giant Hummingbird, has a wingbeat rate of 10-15 times per second. The fastest recorded rate was about 80 times per second, on a tiny Amethyst Woodstar, and the slightly smaller Bee Hummingbird – the world’s smallest bird – may have an even faster rate. (more…)

Tips for Turning Your Backyard Into a Hummingbird Habitat (public domain image)Author: Steve Peek

Hummingbirds notoriously have a high wing-beat rate, and it is its fast wing-beat rate that generates the hum for which the hummingbird is named.

High Metabolism Rate

The largest of hummingbirds, the Giant Hummingbird (Patagona gigas), grow to be about 24g and have an average wing-beat rate of 8-10 beats per second.

Mid-sized hummingbirds, the Rufous Hummingbird (Selasphorus rufus), grow to weigh about 3g and beat their wings at a rate of 20-25 beats per second.

The smallest species of hummingbirds, the Bee Hummingbird (Mellisuga helenae), only grow to approximately 1.8g, and yet they beat their wings at about 70 beats per second.

One might wonder how a hummingbird could generate such an incredibly fast wing-beat rate, but this kind of metabolism is very similar to the energy derived by giving a three-year-old child a can of Mountain Dew to drink. The high sugar-intake taken by the child creates a situation where the child seems to bounce off the walls. Well, the same thing happens with the hummingbird too.