Summary: Hummingbirds are the smallest birds in the world. They eat about five to eight times every hour. They have very high metabolisms and expend a lot of energy by flying.
Hummingbirds are the smallest birds in the world. You can recognize them by their very long tongues and slender, long beaks. Hummingbirds use their long tongues to eat licking up their food at a rate of about thirteen times per second.
Male hummingbirds usually have iridescent feathers to attract female hummingbirds. There are no white feathers on hummingbirds, but there have been a few reported cases of albino hummingbird sightings. These rare birds have white bills, white feathers, and red eyes.
The main physical difference between young and adult hummingbirds is the coloration of their contour feathers. Young hummingbirds have a gray or tan border along the feathers while adult hummingbirds lack this colorful border.
Although hummingbirds are not considered songbirds, males make chirping sounds to communicate and to attract females. Males migrate south in the spring about three weeks before females. They do this in order to establish their territories prior to the arrival of the females. The hummingbirds do not travel north until spring, so the only times you will see them in your yard is spring and summer when temperatures begin warming.
Female hummingbirds are responsible for retrieving small spiders and insects to feed their young chicks, while the male hummingbirds fly in search of nectar. Having hummingbirds attracted to your property is an asset.
Hummingbirds have the highest metabolism of any other animal. Because of their fast metabolism, hummingbirds need to eat about 100% of their own body weight each day. To put this in perspective, if hummingbirds were humans they would have to consume 155,000 calories a day just to survive. Hummingbirds eat about five to eight times every hour. About half of what they eat is sugar from nectar or tree sap, while the other half is protein from insects. Only eight year old children can achieve this sugar-eating feat once a year on Halloween.
Much of the hummingbird's energy is used up with wing flapping. The average hummingbird beats its wings about 53 times per second when flying. The fastest hummingbirds can flap their wings up to 80 times per second. But, small does not mean incapable. In fact, the Ruby-throated hummingbird is believed to be able to fly across the Gulf of Mexico (about 600 miles) without stopping at speeds of close to 60 miles per hour.
Hummingbirds have extremely fast heartbeats to go along with wing beat speed. The average heart rate is 50-180 beats per minute, but the fastest heartbeats of a hummingbird are 1,260 beats per minute. Even with such demands on their small hearts, hummingbirds are known to live in the wild between three to four years.
Here is a tip to attract hummingbirds to your home or yard. They are attracted to the color red, so if you have red flowers, they may come around in search of nectar. On the downside, if your red lawn mower or the emergency release handle of your garage door attracts the hummingbird to the inside of your garage you may want to take some positive action to get the bird out without harm. Keep in mind that hummingbirds constantly eat, so if they do not escape your garage within an hour or so, they could starve and die. To ensure the hummingbird's survival, act quickly.
- Make sure that your pets and children remain inside so that the hummingbird does not become frightened.
- Try hanging a bird feeder at the entrance to your garage. The bird may eat some of the food and fly away.
If this tactic does not work, try this approach. Grab a flashlight, close the garage door and turn off the lights. Hummingbirds cannot fly very well in the dark, so it should fly down to the ground. Turn on the flashlight to locate the hummingbird and scoop it into a box and quickly cover it. Walk outside and release the bird. Be sure to wash your hands after touching a hummingbird or any other kind of wild animals.
Do everything in your power to help the hummingbird escape your garage safely. Hummingbirds are protected under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act. This means that regardless of how much your kids beg, they cannot keep the hummingbird as a pet.