The Buzz About Hummingbirds


Image credit: alluring via photopin (license)

 

Everything about these amazing birds is extreme. Here are some of the startling statistics that will amaze you and your friends:

First, let’s get rid of the myth that hummingbirds migrate on the backs of geese. They don’t even share the same migratory flight path. Most species don’t migrate, but those that do, do so in spectacular fashion. At just over 3” in length, the Rufous Hummingbird travels 3,900-miles one-way from Alaska to Mexico.

The Ruby-throated Hummingbird can cross the 800 km (500 mi) Gulf of Mexico on a nonstop flight. To accomplish this feat it must increase its weight by as much as 100% to store fat as a fuel reserve to make it across the open ocean.

This is one whopper of an accomplishment given the high rate of metabolism of hummingbirds. These magnificent creatures are always only hours away from dying of starvation. They must eat almost continuously to stay alive, consuming high fructose nectar at an average of 1000 flowers a day. At night they have to go into a type of hibernation called a torpor, slowing metabolic rate to 1/15th of the bird’s normal rate to conserve fuel.

Their high metabolism allows hummingbirds to perform their astounding aerial activities. A hummingbird’s wings, which rotate in a full circle, beat about 70 times per second, and up to 200 times during a dive. They can fly an average 25-30 miles per hour and up to 60 when they dive.

One of the more amazing things about these most colorful birds – called “flying jewels,” by early Spanish explorers - is that their feathers actually contain no bright colors. The brilliant color on hummingbirds comes from refracted light like a prism or the iridescent color on a soap bubble. They even have the ability to position their feathers to flash their bright colors and to turn the color down when needed.

Okay, one more small thing, though a humming bird is the size of a coffee bean, the egg of the Bee hummingbird is even smaller. The full grown adult has a wing span of 5–6 cm (2.0–2.4 in) and weighs 1.6–2 g (0.056–0.071 oz), which is less than the weight of a penny!

EcoSmart Designs celebrates the hummingbird as well as hundreds of other animal species as pendants, key fobs, zipper pulls and clip-ons.  See our IN THE WILDANIMAL TRACKS and SEA LIFE series that are featured on a vibrant merchandise card that contains a brief description of the animal. All of our designs, of course, use our SafePewter brand lead free metal.

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