Thursday, July 29, 2010

Today's Trivia - Hummingbirds

This week it’s all about hummingbirds...

- Depending on the direction of flight and on air conditions, a hummingbird’s wings will flap 70 – 80 times per second. (W-o-w!)

- The bee hummingbird is the smallest bird in the world, weighing about 0.06 ounces and measuring about two inches long.

- 4,700 bee hummingbird eggs can fit inside one ostrich egg.

- The sword-billed hummingbird’s bill is longer than its body.

- A hummingbird’s tongue is bifurcated (split in two).

- Hummingbirds do not suck in nectar through their beaks; they lick it with their (bifurcated) tongues.

- Hummingbirds travel at an average speed of 25 miles per hour. That speed can climb up to 60 miles per hour in a dive. (Fast little critters, no?)

- There are between 325 and 340 species of hummingbird.

- The heartbeat of the blue-throated hummingbird has been measured at 1,260 beats per minute.

- Hummingbird eggs are the smallest amongst all birds; they weigh less than 1/55th of an ounce and are ½ inch long and 1/3 inch wide.

- The eggs hatch anywhere from 14 – 19 days.

- The rufous hummingbird will migrate 3,000 miles to get to Mexico from Alaska and areas in Canada. (Heck, who can blame them? I’d travel that far to get away from northern winters, too.)

- In a single day, a hummingbird will consume up to half of its weight in sugar, and will feed 5 – 8 times per hour. (And the little buggers are still so thin! Wish I had a metabolism like that. Imagine how much ice cream I could have and never gain an ounce of weight.)

- A hummingbird’s metabolism is very fast; these little birds are always just hours away from starving to death if they don’t get enough food. (On second thought, I’m not sure a metabolism like that is such a good idea!)

- To satisfy their insatiable appetite, hummingbirds may visit 1,000 flowers a day.

- Hummingbirds, like bees, are able to assess the amount of sugar in nectar, and will reject flowers that produce nectar that is less than 10% sugar.

- Because nectar is a poor source of nutrients, hummingbirds meet their protein needs by preying on insects and spiders, especially when they’re raising their young.

- Like most birds, hummingbirds have very keen eyesight but no sense of smell.

- Hummingbirds are the only birds that can fly in any direction they choose: forward, backwards, straight up or down, and sideways. They can also hover in mid air and fly upside down for short distances.

- The average lifespan of these tiny birds is between 3 and 4 years. Some hummingbirds have lived as long as 12 years in the wild (this is discovered from banding them).

- A hummingbird’s heart will beat about 1,200 beats per minute.

- Hummingbirds slow their metabolism at night by entering a hibernation-type state called torpor. During this period, the heart rate and rate of breathing slow down dramatically; this reduces the need for food. They also tend to enter this state when food is scarce.

- The hummingbird is small enough to have the Praying Mantis as an enemy. (This I find sad because I like them both.)

- The heart of a hummingbird is 2.4 percent of its body weight; the largest known relative heart size of any other bird.

- While resting, a hummingbird will take in about 250 breaths per minute.

- They may be small, but hummingbirds are extremely territorial and aggressive. They are known to attack jays, crows and hawks to protect their territories.

And they’re so darn adorable, too...


  1. I love watching hummingbirds, they really are amazing. But having to always be on the verge of starving would be quite tough.

  2. They're mean little shits, aren't they? Good thing they are so cute!

  3. Tatiana, I can't imagine having a metabolism that runs so fast it will end up killing you if you don't eat x amount of food per day. Yup, that would be tough. I wouldn't mind having it for a few days, though. I'd be able to have all the ice cream and cheesecake I want without worrying about calories!

    Liza, you're too funny! Yes, they are really cute!