Exploring Bird Life: Hummingbirds

printable hummingbird fact sheet


Why Are We Called Hummingbirds?
The name comes from the sound of fast flapping wings.  A hummingbird’s wings can beat anywhere from 12 times a second for large species, and 80 times for small species.  A hummingbird’s wings rotate in a circular motion instead of just going up and down.

Where Do We Live?
Hummingbirds are native to the Americas.  There are 17 species in the United States and Canada. Some of the most common species found in the United States include the Ruby-throated, Rufous, Anna’s, and black-chinned hummingbirds.

What Do We Eat?
Hummingbirds survive mainly on nectar they find during the day in brightly colored flowers. They do NOT sip the sugary liquid with their long needle-like bills, but use their long forked tongue to rapidly lick up nectar at 15 times per second.  Hummingbirds eat several times a day but only for a minute or less at a time.  Hummingbirds also eat tree sap, small bugs, and spiders.  They can consume up to 8 times their weight.

What Are My Natural Enemies?
Hummingbirds have many predators.  The tiny hummingbird can be a tasty snack for cats, mantids, snakes, lizards, bats, large frogs, fish, birds of prey, squirrels, and rodents.

What Are My Adaptations?
Hummingbirds have evolved smaller, lighter feet for efficient flying. They cannot walk or hop, and only use their feet when they are perched.  This is also one of the reasons they are often seen hovering when they want to stay in place instead of using their feet.  Long beaks allow hummingbirds to reach nectar while flying.                       


Did You Know…

  • The Ruby-throated hummingbird is the only species commonly found on Long Island.
  • Hummingbirds have the least number of feathers of any bird species.
  • Hummingbirds have no sense of smell but extremely keen eyesight.
  • Hummingbird eyes are large relative to the size of their bodies.
  • The bee hummingbird is the smallest species and is only found in Cuba.
  • Hummingbird species are usually named for their colorful feathers or unique appearance.
  • The hummingbird can fly up to a speed of 30 miles per hour and can reach up to 60 miles per hour in a dive.
  • Hummingbirds have the fastest metabolism of any bird or animal in the world.
  • Hummingbirds visit about 1000 flowers each day to feed.
  • Most hummingbirds weigh less than a nickel.
  • A baby hummingbird is about the size of a penny when it hatches.
  • While they do like to fly alone, a flock of hummingbirds is called a glitter, bouquet, shimmer or tune.
  • The average lifespan of a hummingbird is 5 years.
  • It is the only bird that can fly backwards and upside down.
  • Hummingbirds have a fantastic memory and return to their same feeders and flowers every year.
  • Hummingbirds are territorial and will defend a food source.

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