Bird Families

Hummingbird, description, flight, food, features, records, behavior 96 photos


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Description and records of the species

Hummingbirds have more than 330 species around the world. Their sizes vary from 5.7 cm to 21.6 cm.The average weight of a bird is about 20 g.

The smallest bird in this family is the Cuban bee hummingbird, which is about 5 cm tall from beak to tail. The weight of this amazing creature is about 2 g, which can be compared, for example, with two paper clips.

The bee hummingbird has an interesting bumblebee color. The upper plumage is green and the lower is white.

In general, the color of the hummingbird is diverse - depending on the species, it can be brown with a green tint, emerald green, red-brown, gray-yellow, bright red.

The color of the feathers can change dramatically in sunlight and become brighter. Often, even from the angle of view, the appearance of the same individual can change.

Male hummingbirds have the brightest colors, while the feathers of females are endowed with weaker colors.

Gorgeous, as if sculpted by a skilled sculptor, fine feathers combine a variety of colors. The long, thin beak of the bird, the upper part of which is somewhat larger than the lower one, also does not lag behind the plumage and has its own color.

Unique flight of hummingbirds

Surprisingly, hummingbirds can fly not only forward but also backward! Long and sharp wings of these crumbs have 9 or 10 large flight feathers and 6 short small ones.

In flight at a maximum speed of more than 50 km / h (and some individuals can fly at a speed of 100 km / h), the wings work so fast that they can exceed 200 flaps per second.

A bird hovering in place can hover with a frequency of 50 strokes per second. The speed is so great that only a shadow of the movement can be seen. But at this moment, the wings make eight-fold movements. This allows you to stay in the air in one place.

The hummingbird is known for its unusual ability to move in any direction - forward, backward, up, down, left and right.

Their movements are so fast that it seems to a person that it was a fluffy bright ball flashed by, and not a bird. The characteristic sound that accompanies the flight of a hummingbird is similar to vibration.

How does hummingbird eat?

An important point in describing the characteristics of a hummingbird bird is their way of obtaining food. The crumb, flying up to the flowers, hangs in place and sticks its elongated sharp beak into the bud for nectar extraction.

The bird sticks out its long forked tongue and makes real swallowing movements.

The small hummingbird heart works at an incredible 500 beats per minute. And these are indicators when hovering in place, that is, in a calm state.

When the bird is moving, its heart can increase its work up to 1500 beats per minute. Can you imagine how powerful this motor is?

The bird's miniature legs do not allow it to move on the ground, so it spends almost its entire life in flight. Despite this, birds can sleep with their heads down, clinging to branches with small claws, like bats.

Hummingbird feature

An amazing fact, in addition to all of the above, is the body temperature of the hummingbird bird. When she sleeps, her body temperature drops to 17C. At the same time, in the daytime and while driving, the temperature reaches as much as 42C!

During illness or when the baby cannot find enough food, a kind of suspended animation may occur. The bird seems to freeze and will not move. If she is not fed and warmed, then she may die.

Hummingbirds in their natural habitat live no more than 9-10 years, in captivity they are much less. During this time, they set real records for the distance traveled. The price for such a bird is very high.

It is very difficult for them to provide the necessary living conditions, since hummingbirds have a number of needs: daily long flights, a varied natural diet and the right air temperature. They cannot be fed exclusively with honey syrup, they need different colors.

Behavior and habitat

In addition to their unusual appearance, hummingbirds distinguished themselves by their character. They are mischievous, brave, fearless and reckless.

Despite this, they are solitary and rarely form flocks. In such groups, each bird will show its own character traits and individuality. Because of this, conflicts and quarrels often arise.


Hummingbirds breed in small, cozy nests that females build from soft grasses. The nest should be deep so that the female, sitting in such a position, seems to hang out.

They lay no more than two eggs at a time, the weight of which can be about 2 g. The planting period lasts 15-20 days. For the same amount of time, the chicks live in the nest and grow stronger.

The female brings nectar and pours it into the beaks of the children.

The male, since this species of bird never builds strong partnerships, rarely takes part in feeding and rearing.

But there are facts that sometimes the male protects the territory with the nest from dangers. Hummingbirds show their fearless character at the slightest danger, especially when it comes to the brood. They are ready to attack even a much larger bird.

Hummingbirds sometimes settle next to human houses. Sometimes lovers of these unique birds planted their favorite hummingbird flowers near their houses, put drinkers with honey syrup. They are unlikely to present beautiful songs (only the smallest species can sing), only a faintly audible chirp.

Birds can live in mountains and plains, sometimes in desert areas. The main habitat of hummingbirds is the Amazon River.

One of the facts is their need to migrate in winter to warm places. This applies to those species that live in temperate latitudes.

What does a hummingbird look like?

Not all hummingbirds are as tiny as the bee hummingbird. Among the representatives of the family there is a real "giant" - a gigantic hummingbird, whose height is 19 - 20 cm. On average, birds grow up to 8.5 - 10.5 cm in length and weigh about 5 - 8 g.

Hummingbirds owe their maneuverability and unusually high flight speed (up to 80 km / h) to the special structure of the aircraft. The wings of birds are highly developed and are distinguished by an extremely long brush. The forearms are poorly developed, the shoulder is very short, and a large ridge is formed on the chest.

The tails of hummingbirds are very different, consisting of 10 feathers, only the racket-tailed hummingbird has only 4 thin and long feathers in its tail. In males of the species, the tips of the tail are decorated with luxurious fans, with which they shake during the mating season to attract females.

An adult female red-breasted hummingbird, her wing-flapping frequency is more than 60 per second.

Another distinctive feature of the hummingbird is its long, thin beak, which encircles the lower one with the edges of the upper part. The beak of birds is completely straight, slightly or strongly curved downward, like in an eagle-billed hummingbird, and in a sword-billed hummingbird, the beak grows longer than the body.

A very long, deeply forked tongue is hidden in the hummingbird's mouth, well suited for collecting nectar from flowers and catching insects in the air.

Hummingbirds fly excellently, but they cannot walk at all. Their legs are small, short and very weak, so birds never descend to the ground. They move awkwardly along the branches, and with sharp claws they can only scratch their head, lifting their legs above the wings.

The birds are painted bright and catchy. If in the photo the hummingbird shimmers with all the colors of the rainbow, it is a male. The plumage of females is always dimmer, devoid of metallic sheen and other adornments, for example, a tuft on the head.

The most interesting species of hummingbirds

Admiration and delight - such feelings were probably experienced by scientists and ornithologists, giving names to numerous species of hummingbirds: amethyst hummingbirds, amazilian hummingbirds, nymph hummingbirds, diamond hummingbirds, coquette hummingbirds, fire-capped hummingbirds. hummingbirds-dukes, hummingbirds-sunbeams. Each species of these tiny birds is unique and interesting in its own way.

Ecuadorian mountain star

In the mountains of Colombia and Ecuador, there are very beautiful olive-green hummingbirds with a bright purple head. Their belly and tail are white, with a black stripe running down the middle of their chest. A similar subspecies lives on the Chimborazo volcano and is distinguished by a shiny green throat.

Hummingbird Ecuadorian mountain star.

Sunny Hummingbird Praetra

A very beautiful, large bird up to 15 cm long. The back is bright green, the hindquarters and tail are fiery red, and the belly is yellowish brown.

Sunny Hummingbird Praetra.

Pennant-tailed hummingbird

Birds with an unusually long, forked tail, growing up to 17 cm. Males are distinguished by contrasting black-blue-green plumage and a long bright red beak.

Male of a pennant-tailed hummingbird.

Buffy hummingbird

Another name for birds is red selasphorus. Birds about 8 cm long are ocher-red in color with a green cap and a bright red triangle on the throat. This is the only hummingbird species that occasionally flies into the territory of Russia.

Red-lipped coquette

A small bird up to 7 cm in size with a sharp long red beak with a dark speck. Males are bluish brown on top, with a green head and neck, burgundy tail, and red spots on the belly. A distinctive feature of the birds is a fluffy coral crest with black tips.

Hummingbird red-footed coquette.

Black-crested paphosia

Males of the species are greenish-bronze in color with a short. bright red tail. Their heads are decorated with a long tuft of black feathers, the same feathers bristle on their chests, and yellow tufts grow above their ears.

Hummingbird black-crested paphosia.

Where do hummingbirds live?

Hummingbirds are typical inhabitants of both American continents from southern Alaska to the Tierra del Fuego archipelago and the Caribbean islands.

Hummingbird biotopes are very diverse. Most of the species live in humid and low-lying tropical forests, bushes, and river valleys. Sometimes birds leave their habitats and visit local farms, fields, banana plantations. Some species settle near human habitation and are as familiar to local residents as sparrows are to us.

In most cases, open areas are avoided by birds, it is important for them the presence of trees, moisture and flowers - their main source of food.

The male pennant-tailed hummingbird (below) conflicts with another species of hummingbird.

What hummingbirds eat

Miniature, brightly colored birds have attracted the attention of people since ancient times, they were studied and initially it was believed that the crumbs feed exclusively on flower nectar. In fact, not all hummingbirds have a flower diet; some eat only small insects, which are caught in flight, pulled from the cobweb or extracted from flowers.

In flight, hummingbirds of the smallest species produce up to 100 flaps of their wings per second, due to which they hover over flowers like butterflies or bees. Some birds are heavier than the flowers on which they feed, and in order not to break the fragile stem, quickly flapping their wings, they keep in front of the flower, launching their long tongue into the bowl up to 20 times per second.

Nectar is collected from heliconias, prickly pears, honeysuckle, balsams, epiphytes, citrus fruits and many other tropical plants, and red and orange flowers are often preferred. Collecting nectar, hummingbirds pollinate plants, which is of undoubted benefit.

From animal food, hummingbirds use caterpillars and aphids, fruit flies, mosquitoes, sometimes spiders, which are torn off the web on the fly.

So small and insatiable

Despite their more than modest size, hummingbirds are considered the most voracious birds on the planet. They eat about 16 hours a day, while drinking nectar up to 120 times. As a result, the bird's daily diet includes more food than its own weight. Thus, the birds accumulate strength for intensive flights and also manage to save energy. From time to time, hummingbirds descend on branches and fall into a state of suspended animation, slowing down the vital functions of the body.

Hummingbirds are mobile, cheerful and courageous birds, from morning till night busy looking for food. During the breeding season, they become especially territorial and daring to the point of recklessness, attacking birds far exceeding their size.

In flight, Anna's hummingbird female chooses a flower for feeding.

Breeding features

Hummingbirds live for about 9 years, and reach sexual maturity at the age of one. These birds are polygamous and do not form strong married couples. Breeding season varies by area, for example, rainforest dwellers start breeding with the onset of the rainy season or after it ends. Some species nest all year round.

Outside the breeding season, hummingbirds are solitary. With the onset of the mating season, males gather in small flocks and call on females, demonstrate their luxurious plumage, quickly flying up to the tops of trees and slowly descending. In the fight for the female, fights often take place between rivals. One male usually fertilizes 5 - 6 females and does not take part in the construction of the nest and feeding the offspring.

Breeding offspring

To equip the nest, the female collects mosses, lichens, animal hair, feathers and holds them together with cobwebs. Usually the nests are suspended from the branches of trees and bushes, carefully camouflaged. Some species, like swifts, glue nests with saliva to rocks and leaves. The finished nest looks neat and voluminous, inside it is carefully lined with fluff.

All female hummingbirds lay 2 white oblong eggs and incubate the clutch for 14-19 days. Chicks are born naked and helpless and the female immediately starts feeding, collecting as much food as possible in her long beak and squeezing it straight into the throat of the chicks.

The sunny Praetra hummingbird feeds its chicks.

The first days, the female intensively feeds the chicks, not forgetting to clean the nest of droppings. The mother takes care of the offspring for 3-4 weeks, after which the young hummingbirds leave the nest, and the female often mates again.

Hummingbirds are the oldest birds on earth, the fossil remains of birds found in Germany are about 30 million years old.Due to the unusually beautiful plumage, birds were ruthlessly exterminated for the manufacture of jewelry, which inevitably led to a decrease in the population. Nevertheless, due to the vast range of most species of hummingbirds, today, nothing is threatened.