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Hummingbirds the Original Helicopter

Calliope Hummingbird / Stellula calliope - fem...
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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.

Hummingbirds come in all colors of the rainbow and are often brightly colored and iridescent. Hummingbirds also love to bathe on misted leaves. They are also more reliable pollinators; insects become inactive on cold or rainy days, but hummingbirds visit flowers regardless of the weather.

Hummingbirds are thought by evolutionary biologists to have evolved in South America, and the great majority of the species are found there. They inhabit a variety of temperate and tropical habitats from the wettest to the driest, and from sea level to over 14,000 feet in the Andes mountains.

Several hummingbirds species will migrate annually between the two regions. Hummingbirds are capable of traveling vast distances through their migration, in human equivalence about 50,000 miles per day.

Hummingbirds occur throughout the Americas, but most species inhabit tropical South America. Their habitat in North, Central, and South America is being lost to development and fragmentation, as well as to the exploitation of forested regions for the production of wood, coffee, and other crops.

Hummingbirds are called nectivores because about 90 percent of their diet is nectar from flowers. They need to eat a third to a half of their body weight daily to fuel their high-energy lifestyle.

Hummingbirds feed every ten or fifteen minutes from dawn to dusk every day. They like flowers that are bright and that open during the day, when they are awake. Hummingbirds are attracted to many flowering plants—shrimp plants, Heliconia, bromeliads, verbenas, fuchsias, many penstemons. They have no ability to smell, therefore, flowers do not need to be scented.

Hummingbirds are attracted to red tubular flowers, but you don’t have to plant all red flowers; purple and blue hues will also work. Hummingbirds are said to be most drawn to  flowers that are either large and showy or in drooping clusters of red, orange and pink. Hummingbirds may return to some of these locations because they are near a stable wildflower area which has produced a dependable food source for years or decades.

Nectar feeders can also be used as a supplemental food source for hummingbirds. Hummingbirds readily find and use feeders and their food is very easy and cheap to make, (usually 1 to 4 ) one part sugar to four parts water. Hummingbirds should never be given honey, brown sugar, molasses, fruit juices, bouillon or sugar substitutes.

They have a specialized diet that is difficult to duplicate, so they are hard to feed properly, and they might get sick and die if given these food sources. Hummingbirds are very territorial and will aggressively protect nectar sources. They will defend all of the feeding stations they can see from one perch.

Hummingbirds use their beaks like a drinking straw and drink so quickly and come and go in such energetic spurts that it’s easy to think they take a quick sip through their beak and are off.  They feed primarily on nectar from flowers, but occasionally they need protein which they get from consuming spiders and small insects. They often eat more than twice their weight in nectar and insects every day. Hummingbirds can also be attracted to a reliable water source like a mister .

Hummingbirds are so adept at flying that they have no need to walk. Most of them never walk as far as 2 inches. They are called hummingbirds because of the sound that they produce during flight. Hummingbirds do make distinctive “zinging” noises with their wings and are known for their rapid flight.

Hummingbirds can move instantaneously in any direction, start from its perch at full speed, and doesn’t necessarily slow up to land. Hummingbirds are the only species of birds that can truly fly backwards. They can even fly short distances upside down, a trick they employ when being attacked by another bird. Hummingbirds have weak feet and are more at ease using their wings even to shift in the nest or on a perch.

Hummingbird feeding for most North Americans is purely a summertime activity, but some species have been sighted in the winter months. Hummingbirds are the tiniest and most fascinating birds that will visit your backyard.

Many people get great enjoyment and amazement out of watching these little birds visit year after year. Educate yourself about the study of hummingbirds and also other bird species. Hummingbirds are great fun and you just might learn something!

Written by ATrujillo
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