Every weekday I will feature a new animal and some quick interesting facts about them! I will sometimes also include photos, videos, or links to articles where you can learn more.
Hummingbirds are native to North and South America. They are the smallest birds. The smallest bird in the world is the bee hummingbird which is only 2.4 inches long (6.1 cm).
There are over 300 known species of hummingbird. This page on Wikipedia lists 359 species. Most species are found in tropical and subtropical Central and South America. Colombia and Ecuador have the most species. Mexico has over 50 species, the United States has less than 25, and Canada has less than 10.
Many North American hummingbirds migrate south in the fall. They will spend the winter in Mexico, the Caribbean, or Central America. Some species stay year round in Florida, California, and in the southwest desert. The hummingbird species with the longest migration is the rufous hummingbird. They travel more than 3,000 miles from Alaska and Canada down to Mexico for the winter.
Hummingbird species are separated into 9 different groups called clades. These are topazes, hermits, mangoes, coquettes, brilliants, giant hummingbird (Patagona), mountain-gems, bees, and emeralds.
The average lifespan of a hummingbird is 3 to 5 years, but some have been recorded living up to 12 years.
Hummingbirds can hover as well as fly in any direction — forward, backward, sideways, and even upside-down!
The average hummingbird’s wings beat up to 80 times per second. Their heart rate has been recorded as high as 1,260 beats per minute and 250 breaths per minute.
In order to fuel all this energy use, they require nectar from flowers. Nectar is great for providing energy, but does not provide many nutrients. For nutrition, they eat insects such as mosquitoes, flies, gnats, aphids, and even spiders.
Hummingbirds use their long tongue to drink nectar through their beak. Their tongue is so long it coils up inside their skull and around their eyes.
Here’s a video on how their tongues work