Hummingbird is bird species that belongs to the family of Trochilidae. It is considered a very small bird species. The weight of a hummingbird is only about 4 grams. The smallest hummingbirds alive has been found that only weigh about 2 grams.
The hummingbird is about 8 to 13 centimeters in length. Even though they have a small size, hummingbirds are unique and special kinds of bird. They are excellent flyer on the terms of flight stability, speed, and distance. Hummingbirds are able to fly for great distance for migration during cold winter season.
Hummingbird run on high metabolism during the day. They can fly as fast as 15 meters per second. Some species of hummingbird can fly for about 22 meters per second. This great speed is due to their fast flapping of wings. This bird species can flap their wings starting from 12 beats to 80 beats per second.
Hummingbird is a very active bird during the day time. They are constantly running on very high metabolism. Their hearts can beat for up to 1200 beats per minute. They need a lot of food intake during daytime to be able to run their body on such high metabolism rate.
Hummingbird falls into a state of torpor during night time. In this state, their metabolism will lower significantly that the bird will be able to save about 60 percent of their energy. In this state of torpor, hummingbirds will enter a near hibernation state.
Once the birds awake from their torpor state, they will start feeding themselves to replenish the energy they spend up during the night. They will eat about quarter of their food intake during the day. In one day, the bird will feed about 2 or 3 times weight of a hummingbird to be able to run their high metabolism.
Hummingbirds feed primarily on flower nectars. Flower nectars consists of sodium and other nutrients that are the most contributing factors for their high metabolism. The hummingbirds, also known as nectarivores, co-exist with the flower they depend their food on.
Hummingbirds are capable of pollinated the flowers they feed the nectars from. Most of the flowers pollinated by hummingbirds are consisting of sucrose, meanwhile flowers pollinated other insects are typically rich in fructose and glucose.
There are 360 species of hummingbirds that are currently documented all around the world. The species of hummingbirds is divided into two subfamilies which are Trochilinae which are the typical hummingbirds and Phaethornithinae which are the hermit hummingbirds.
The species will be separated once again by groups. There are several groups such as hermits, emeralds, mangoes, coquettes, mountaingems, and bees. Bee hummingbird from the Bees group is well-known as the world’s smallest group with the weight of a hummingbird less than 2 grams.
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Facts about Hummingbird
Hummingbird species consist of some of the smallest birds in the world. Bee hummingbird, which is the smallest bird in the world, only weigh about 2 grams and the length is only about 5 centimeters. The biggest weight of a hummingbird is the species named Giant hummingbird weighing about 20 grams.
The number of feathers of one hummingbird is ranging from 1000 to 1500 feathers. Due to its relatively small size, their number of feathers is also one of the fewest in the world. The few feathers actually help them to fly better.
1. Excellent Vision
Due to their high metabolism, hummingbirds have fast heart beats which is about 1200 beats per minute. Hummingbirds also have great vision. They have no ability to smell but their excellent vision make up for their lack of smelling ability.
Hummingbird’s excellent vision help them to navigate. This contribute to their great flying ability. Their flight stability is excellent and they are one of the best flyer among the bird species. Their light weight also helps their take off before flying.
2. Hybrid Species
Because of their many species, some species can cross breed and create a hybrid species. Some of known hummingbird species to create hybrid species are rufous hummingbird, calliope hummingbird, Anna’s hummingbird, Black chinned hummingbird, Allen’s hummingbird and broad tailed hummingbird.
Similar to its high metabolism, number of flaps, and heart beats per minute, hummingbirds also inhale a great deal of oxygen. Average oxygen intake of hummingbird is about 250 inhales per minute. This will highly increase when the birds are on flight.
3. Territorial Tendency
Hummingbirds are very territorial birds despite its non-threatening size. Hummingbirds will protect their territory from bigger birds such as crows and jays, even raptors such as hawks. They will also do the same defensive actions for threat against their nests.
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Weight of a Hummingbird
Weight of a hummingbird is on the average of 4 grams. The smallest species of the hummingbird is bee hummingbird weighing only about 2 grams and the largest species is the Giant hummingbird that can weigh up to 20 grams. However, they are still relatively small compared to the rest of bird species in the world.
The small size of the hummingbird is beneficial to many aspects of the bird’s lives. The weight of a hummingbird consists of about 30 percent of muscle. These muscles stored on the broad chest is beneficial for flying. The small size also create easier momentum for the birds to take off to fly with precise control.
Hummingbird’s weight can increase and decrease according to certain factors and conditions. First, the male and female weigh differently. Usually the female hummingbird weighs more than the male hummingbird. Second, their food intake factors to their weight and size.
Lastly, hummingbird’s weight can increase significantly when they are in preparation of migration. When they are about to fly long distance to migrate, they will store about double their body weight of food. Hummingbirds run on high metabolism thus they will store a lot of food to fly very far distance.
Weight of a hummingbird is also depending on the sexes. Female hummingbirds usually weigh more than male hummingbirds. Male ruby throat hummingbird’s weight is ranging from 2.4 grams to 3.6 grams. Meanwhile, the female counterpart weighs a little more, ranging from 2.8 grams to 4.5 grams.
As far as courting goes during mating seasons, female hummingbird will likely mate with the smaller male hummingbirds. Due to its bigger size, female hummingbirds are better at feeding flower nectar and acquiring energy they need for flying. Female hummingbirds also have bigger bills than male hummingbirds.
On nesting seasons, female hummingbirds will take part in building the nests for the eggs. The female will lay two eggs per nesting season. The eggs size are very small. They are only about 1.5 centimeters long and take up about 10 percent of the mother’s whole body weight.
During the nesting season, the female will incubate the eggs for about two to three weeks. Once the baby birds hatch the female will feed them nectars directly to their mouths. The female will also sleep on the nest during the season.
The baby birds will remain in the nest for another 3 weeks before they leave to be on their won. Despite this, there are also female species that will feed their baby birds for as long as a month after their baby birds leave their nests.
Migration also have a part in the change of weight of a hummingbird. Hummingbirds usually store nectars on their body in preparation on leaving for a long distance flight of a migration. They can store up to double their whole weight before the go on their migration.
Hummingbirds are excellent and fast flier. They also have precise flight stability as a result of their head positions, light weight, and orientation. This makes them suitable to fly very far during the migration on the cold winter season. Mostly, hummingbirds fly to southern area starting from fall season.
This bird species can fly from 15 meters per second up to 22 meters per second. Their wings flip from 50 to 200 flaps per one second. This create a humming sounds when they are flying. This humming sounds can be heard by humans which make up the name hummingbird.
One species of hummingbird named ruby throated hummingbird is able to fly without stopping for about 800 kilometers during migration. This bird species is migrating on spring and autumn seasons towards South America.
Hummingbirds fly to southern part of America during the migration season. Usually, migration season starts in autumn. It usually begins from mid-summer or July and lasts all the way to early autumn in September.
It is also known that the species that lives in the northern part of the area may start migration earlier than the rest of the species. Hummingbirds migrate in flocks or colonies. However, it is not impossible that some individual birds are left behind. Conveniently, their high metabolism allows them to survive winter.
Hummingbirds’ main diet is flower nectars. They are depending on the nutrients in the nectars to fully able supporting their high metabolism. The weight of a hummingbird can increase during feeding as they need to consume about one and half of their weight with nectars on daily consumption.
Hummingbirds is consuming nectars in daily which is consisting of a lot of sugar intake. However, they are also consuming other foods aside from nectars. Hummingbirds may eat small insects and spiders. They are also likely to feed on juices from fruits that has fallen to the ground.
Hummingbirds is consuming nectars by licking with their tongues. They do not use their bills to feed themselves nectars. They can lick the nectars about 10 to 15 times. The sugars contained in nectars can be processed by hummingbird’s digestive system as soon as 20 minutes after consuming.
1. Sweet Nectars
Hummingbirds is able to perceive the sweetness of nectars using a special carbohydrate receptor. The natural sweet receptor is non-existent in the bird species, including hummingbird. They are also unable to smell anything. This special receptor enable hummingbird to detect the sweetness of nectars.
2. Feeders and Artificial Nectar
Natural flower nectars are consisting of a lot of sugar intakes. The sugars consist on nectars are mainly sucrose which is more than 50 percent. The rest of the sugar intake are consisting of glucose and fructose. Aside from this, hummingbirds also take another form of sugar intake.
Hummingbirds take another sugar form from bird feeders. The sugar is in the form of sugar water. This artificial nectars allow hummingbirds to still have their daily intake of energy to fulfill their high metabolism rate. Feeders prepared by humans will be placed on which they will be able to observe the bird up close.
Artificial nectars help hummingbirds in situation where they find less flower nectars to feed themselves on. Hummingbirds need to consume about one half of their total weight daily to fuel their high metabolism. The best artificial nectars is containing white granulated sugar that is mixed with 25 percent of water.
Hummingbirds are special kinds of small bird species. They have a great flying ability and able to precisely control their flight stability. They also have great vision that is beneficial for flying. Their light weight and few numbers of feathers also help the momentum in which they take off to fly.
Hummingbirds feed on nectars that they get directly from flowers. This feeding activity also help the pollination process on the flowers. The flowers pollinated by hummingbirds are more likely to contain more sucrose on their nectars. Artificial nectars can also be consumed that are usually placed on the bird feeder.
The weight of a hummingbird is roughly 4 grams with the smallest bird recording only 2 grams of weight and the largest one only reaching up to 20 grams. They can double their body weight when in preparation to migrate. Female hummingbird are usually bigger than the male ones as they are better at acquiring food.