Hummingbirds are one of the smallest birds in the world, but despite their tiny size, they are one of the most attractive species due to their bright coloration and stylized shape, ability to fly, and all those characteristics that make them unique and incredible.
Below are some curious and interesting facts about these small but agile birds.
1. There are about 330 species, with average sizes ranging from 2 to 4.5 inches (6-12 cm) in length and weights ranging from 0.1-0.2 ounces (2.5-6.5 grams).
2. The smallest hummingbird is the zunzuncito or bee elf (Mellisuga helenae), native to Cuba, weight of 1.95 g (0.069 oz) and length of 5.5 cm (2.2 in).
3. The largest species of hummingbird is the giant hummingbird (Patagona gigas), weighing 18–24 g (0.63–0.85 oz) and having a wingspan of approximately 21.5 cm (8.5 in) and length of 23 cm (9.1 in).
4. Most hummingbird species exhibit sexual dimorphism, that is, they differ in physical appearance. Many females tend to be larger than males, but males have more varied and vibrant colors of plumage because they are responsible for courtship.
5. The typical species of hummingbird consists of a rounded body where the pectoral muscles can make up to 40% of their weight. They have a long, narrow beak, as well as small, four-toed feet that prevent them from walking or jumping on the floor like other birds do, but they can sit on branches to rest and sleep.
6. Their agile and fast wings beat at a rate of about 70 times per second, although they can do so up to 200 times per second.
7. They are able to fly backwards, sideways, and even upside down. They can also hover motionless in the air. When they fly straight ahead, their speed is between 30 mph (50 kilometers per hour), although they can reach 40 miles and reach an altitude of about 14,500 feet.
8. Although they are small, they have a large heart, accounting for 2% to 5% of their total body weight (in humans, the heart is 0.4%). The heart of a hummingbird beats 500 to 700 times per minute, and when they are at rest, the frequency drops to about 100 beats per minute, and with active movement it reaches 1200 times per minute.
9. Because hummingbirds are in constant motion and fly at high speeds, their oxygen requirements are higher than those of any other type of vertebrate. They have 2 lungs and 9 air sacs and take about 500 breaths per minute during flight.
10. The brain of a hummingbird is larger than that of any animal of its size, as it makes up 4.5% of its body mass (in the case of a human, the brain is 2%) – this suggests that they have more brain capabilities than other small birds.
11. Hummingbirds have an amazing memory, they can recognize the migration route from Alaska to Mexico and remember it. They can also remember the various flowers they have found and find out where the new flowering plants are, the ones that will bloom and visit them as they produce their nectar.
12. Hummingbirds are the only bird pollinators of flowers, and they do this job by feeding on their nectar. Hummingbirds can eat the equivalent of their weight in one day, and in seasons when more food is available, they eat 3 or 5 times their weight.
13. Despite their small size, hummingbirds are long-lived animals. In their natural habitat, hummingbirds live up to 10 or 12 years old, and some others even up to 18 years old.
14. At night, the metabolism of hummingbirds becomes slow, so much so that they go into a state of lethargy and deep sleep. The body temperature drops, the heart slows down (about 100 beats per minute), and the kidneys stop working to avoid death from dehydration.