Deep Dive: Hummingbirds
by Chris Anderson on May 14, 2023
|Have you ever caught sight of a hummingbird? These quickly flying birds are part of the family Trochilidae. There are over 320 species of them throughout the world! About 12 species live in North America, but the greatest variety is found in South America.1
These birds can fly very quickly – reaching speeds of 30-45 miles per hour in some cases!2 This is because they have tiny bodies with strong muscles and their wings are connected to their bodies only at the shoulder.1 This allows them to use muscle to have power behind both the up and down stroke, while other birds can only do it on the down stroke.3 Because of this adaptation, they’re the only vertebrate species that can hover.2
Because of how quickly and often they move, hummingbirds have high metabolic rates. This, combined with the fact that their feathers aren’t good at keeping them warm, is a reason that they can go into torpor when needed, so they can stay alive when temperatures drop.2
Hummingbirds are nectivores – this means that most of their diet comes from the nectar found in flowers. However, they will also eat insects if the opportunity arises.3 They aren’t social animals and pairs won’t stay together after they mate.2&3 This is because there’s high competition for food and so it’s easier for them to fend for themselves than live with others of their species.2
When they reproduce, females will be left alone to care for the offspring. They will build tiny nests made from moss, leaves, feathers, and even spider webs.3 Eggs are only about the size of a pea.2 They’re the smallest eggs produced by any bird species. They are incubated for almost three weeks, and then it takes another three weeks for the offspring to fledge.1
Hummingbirds are migratory and most of them will migrate hundreds of miles annually to and from their breeding spots. As hummingbirds feed on the nectar from flowers, they’ll do the important work of pollination!3
Don’t forget about our new posters!
They’re perfect for any educational space, and are filled with interesting and unknown facts about these animals!