YOUR WEEKLY DOSE OF WOWZERS AND WONDER FROM THE NATURAL WORLD
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Of the nearly 10,000 species of birds in the world, the brightly coloured hummingbird is perhaps one of the most mesmerizing.
Small and agile, it’s no wonder these miniscule birds seem to captivate even the most seasoned bird enthusiasts.
Let’s spread our (tiny) wings and get to know the magnificent hummingbird!
There are more than 325 unique hummingbird species in the world. Of these, there are eight species that regularly breed in North America. The rest are primarily tropical species which are found in Central and South America as well as throughout the Caribbean.
The hummingbird gets its name from the humming sound that occurs when they flap their wings really fast.
And boy can they flap their wings! Hummingbirds are equipped with wings that can beat up to 80 times per second!
Hummingbirds are the only species of bird that can hover. This uncommon talent allows them to sip the nectar of plants and flowers.
And speaking of sipping nectar, hummingbirds are equipped with a specialized forked tongue which is so long that it coils up around their skulls and eyes when retracted!
It’s not just their wings that move at an incredible pace. Their tongues can dart in and out of flowers up to 18 times per second. Those quick tongues come in handy, especially since these tiny birds feed every 10 – 15 minutes, and visit between 1,000 and 2,000 flowers a day!
In addition to nectar, hummingbirds also feed on tiny insects like aphids, gnats, mosquitos and ants.
If the birds of the world decided to hold a tiny home competition, the hummingbird would win hands-down.
At a diameter of just 3.8 cm (1.5 in), a typical nest has just enough room to house a few jelly bean-sized eggs. Depending on the species, mother hummingbirds will lay between one to three of them.
For being such small birds, hummingbirds can cover massive distances during migration. Not all species migrate, but those that do can fly distances of nearly 6,437 km (4,000 miles) — and that’s just one way!
Some of the birds will settle in the United States, while others will continue onto Canada or even as far north as Alaska.
Encountering a hummingbird in person is always exciting. If you’d like to encourage one to visit your garden, you’ll want to ensure you provide a welcoming habitat.
This includes offering food in the form of insects or nectar, and having plants with large leaves that can collect water for drinking and bathing.
You can also supplement their diet by purchasing a feeder or two and filling them with a home-made solution of one part sugar to four parts water.
Simply boil the water for a minute, add the sugar, and allow the mixture to cool before filling your feeder.
Avoid adding food colouring as this only adds unnecessary chemicals to their diet — the red on the feeder is enough to attract the birds.
Hang your feeder in a visible place and have a camera ready. Good luck!
The bee hummingbird is the smallest hummingbird species in the world. It is just 5.7 cm (2.25 in) long.
The average hummingbird weighs less than a nickel!
Back it up! Hummingbirds are the only birds that can fly backwards!
The average human heart beats between 60 and 100 times per minute. That’s nothing compared to the hummingbird’s, which beats 1,200 times!
Meet the smallest bird on Earth — the bee hummingbird!
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