If you live in the America’s, it’s likely that you have seen one of the smallest bird species in existence: the hummingbird. Often you’ll catch a glimpse of them buzzing around gardens, fields full of blooms, or your local hummingbird feeder. These tiny pollinators are fairly well-known, but also incredibly elusive and there is a wealth of knowledge about hummingbirds that is yet to be discovered by most. To start, we have compiled a list of 10 things you didn’t know about hummingbirds.
- WHY ARE HUMMINGBIRDS CALLED HUMMINGBIRDS?
They are simply called hummingbirds because when you are near them, they make a humming sound. This sound is an ambient buzz in the air comparable to what bees sound like. Hummingbirds can make this noise by the speed and direction that their wings flap in. Air passes through their feathers while they are beating their wings, creating this noise. Some species can beat their wings faster than others. The most common hummingbird to the Hampton Roads area is the Ruby-Throated hummingbird. According to National Geographic, these birds beat their wings 53 times per second.
- TIME TO EAT!
If you know anything at all about hummingbirds, it is probably that they eat nectar from flowers. These birds need to consume twice their body weight a day in nectar to keep thriving. Hummingbirds weigh about the same as a piece of printer paper, so that doesn’t sound like very much to eat. However, to keep up with their supercharged metabolism, they need to visit about 1,000 - 2,000 flowers per day (according to audubon.org).
The best hummingbird flowers are tubular and/or brightly colored such as bee balm, lantana, salvia, butterfly bush, honeysuckle, and coneflowers. For your hummingbird feeders, wildflower-infused nectar from Sweet-Seed is our top choice of hummingbird nectar. For feeding, give the hummingbirds in your area everything they need with the Humm-Yumm Hummingbird feeder.
- PACK YOUR BAGS
As annual migratory birds, hummingbirds usually travel from a warmer, southern climate to cooler, northern climates in the spring and summer mating season. When preparing for migration, hummingbirds will eat insects as well as nectar to have enough energy for the journey. Like sea turtles and their nesting grounds, hummingbirds follow a similar pattern traveling around 20 miles every day.
- A SPECIAL BEAK
Hummingbirds have long needle-like bills to get deep into a flower to drink the nectar. The beak is mostly a tool to get into the flower, but their tongue is the device that grabs the nectar. Hummingbirds have very strange, long tongues that are tube-like. The hummingbird depresses these tube openings when reaching into the flower. When the nectar is detected, the bird opens the tubes to pull the nectar in like a syringe. Their tongues also have split ends to grab more nectar in those hard-to-reach places.
- TORPOR - THE DEEP SLEEP
When hummingbirds have had a long day of eating nectar from their 2,000 flowers, they need to have a nap. Unlike resting, “torpor” is the deep sleep that hummingbirds use to spend the least amount of energy as possible. Their body temps can drop dramatically, almost 40 degrees below their regular body temperature. Commonly when in torpor, their feet lock up so they won't fall from the branch or feeder that they are on. Oftentimes you’ll see them hanging upside down like a bat when in torpor.