Hummingbirds are only found in the New World (North, Central and South America).
There are approx. 340 species of hummingbirds, although new species are being discovered, most of them are in Colombia, which boats over 160 species.
Did you know they are called hummingbirds due to the sound of their rapidly beating wings. Depending on the species, their wings can flap an average of 50 times per second and can reach up to 200 times per second.
Their flight is unique compared to other birds. They flap their wings in a figure of 8 and generate similar upstroke and down stroke forces, unlike many other birds.
Hummingbirds are believed to be the only bird that can fly backwards, they are also known to hover which is a rare trait in birds and can even fly upside down. They can fly up to 30 mph and even exceed 45 mph during courtship dives.
See a beautiful video by Kay Little at @Hummingbird_journals (IG)
They have an oddly fast metabolism, they can change weight often throughout the day as they eat and burn energy, their heart can beat over 1000 times per minute!
Apart from insects, hummingbirds have the highest metabolism of all animals due to the need to keep their wings rapidly beating, because of this, the hummingbird visits hundreds of flowers and consumes more than its body-weight in nectar each day!
Due to the need to conserve energy, hummingbirds don’t spend all day flying and instead spend most of their time perched, digesting their recent meal.
This fast metabolism can be a problem at night, when the hummingbirds go hours without eating, they go into a hibernation type state to conserve energy. They essentially shut off their bodies and their heart rate can drop from 1000 bpm to 100bpm!.
See a group of these birds relaxing in a ‘hummingbird spa’ below:
A hummingbird’s brain makes up a whopping 4.2% of its weight, to proportion that’s the largest of any bird (humans have brains 2% of their body weight). Studies show they put their brain to good use as they are said to remember every flower they’ve ever visited.
Hummingbirds have amazing vision, as well as all the colours we can see, their eyes can also process ultraviolet light meaning they can see some extra colours. Their ears are pretty good too as they have highly acute hearing.
They span quite a wide range of body sizes for a bird, the smallest known hummingbird (bee hummingbird) weigh an average of 2g and is measured at 5cm. The largest known hummingbird (giant hummingbird) averages around 20 grams and measures at over 20cm.
They are an overall awesome bird, no wonder they are most peoples favuorite.