In general, all birds are quite intriguing to human beings. However, none is as fascinating and captivating as the hummingbird. Hummingbirds are known as New World birds, which means that they are indigenous and restricted to the Americas. Most of these birds are found in the tropical and subtropical parts of these regions, but there are various species that are known to breed in temperate zones. Here are some interesting facts about hummingbirds.

Hummingbird Facts

Source: http://www.hummingbirdsplus.org/facts/

Species

The number of hummingbird species in the world has been estimated to be over three hundred and twenty five. Among these, only eight species are known to breed within the temperate zone, specifically in the United States. However, you might spot others which regularly migrate and even some vagrants that stray outside their normal habitats.

Size

As a family, hummingbirds are considered to among the smallest birds in the world. Moreover, the smallest bird that is currently in existence is the bee hummingbird. It is about five centimeters in size and often weighs about two and a half grams. That is the approximate weight of a normal penny. Generally, the average hummingbird will be about three to five inches in size, which translates to seven to thirteen centimeters. Some of the smaller birds can be caught in spider webs or caught by animals like praying mantis, frogs and dragonflies.

Flight

The flight of the hummingbird is one of the most interesting subjects for bird enthusiasts. The common name for these birds comes from the distinctive sound made by the wings as they beat rapidly. Each species will make a unique hum which is determined by the speed of the wing beats. They can fly fast, at speeds that often exceed fifteen meters per second. Moreover, they can hover impressively by beating their wings rapidly. Hummingbirds are also noted to be the only birds that are capable of flying backwards. Unfortunately, their feet are extremely tiny, so walking or shuffling on perches is usually awkward.

Metabolism

The metabolism of hummingbirds is the highest when compared to other homoeothermic animals and only second to insects in the entire animal kingdom. This is essential because they require a lot of energy to support their hovering and high speed flight lifestyle. Normally, the birds will ingest nectar as their energy fuel, but they may also eat insects occasionally to aid growth and development. When migrating, the hummingbird stores up good amounts of fats, up to half of their body weight. This can sustain for power flights. If food is scarce or it is night time, the hummingbird will slow down its metabolism. The state is known as torpor and is similar to hibernation.

Reproduction

The male hummingbird does not play any role in the nesting during reproduction. However, during mating, they will beat their wings even faster and perform dives to impress potential partners. The female creates a nest using lichen and silk, usually on a tree. The silk is a unique material which will allow the nest to expand as the young birds grow. Naturally, the eggs laid by hummingbirds are extremely small in direct proportion to their tiny bodies.

Resources:

1. Cool Hummingbird Necklaces: http://www.hummingbirdsplus.org/gifts/necklaces/