We love love love hummingbirds. When we hear their characteristic hum for the first time in any given year, we thank Mother Nature for another beautiful warm season, blessed with these colorful little beauties that are as delicate and fast and gorgeous as anything we know.
Hummingbirds are sure mysterious? Where do they come from? Where do they go to? And what's with that impractically long beak?
Well, we did some digging and here are some facts we've found about hummingbirds. Living life at such a fast clip must be pretty exciting for these little birds. We have included some of our favorite images of our resident hummingbirds over the years in the slideshow below.
- Hummingbirds can hover in mid-air by rapidly beating their wings (up to 90 times in some cases). We have witnessed this many times in real life and it's quite a thing to behold.
- Hummingbirds are the only type of birds that CAN FLY BACKWARD. Isn't that awesome?
- It takes a lot of energy to fly that fast, so most hummingbirds spend most of the day resting and really toning down their metabolism at night to recuperate from this great feat.
- A mother hummingbird builds her nest high up in the tree and camouflages her nest with lichens and bits of other plant materials.
- They can fly at speeds exceeding 54 kilometers per hour!
- The true diet of hummingbirds is flower nectar, tree sap, minuscule insects, and pollen — for this reason, we do not put sugared water out in hummingbird feeders, the same reason that we stay away from honey, because we would have to steal food from baby bees and give them white sugar instead. Even organic white sugar isn't all that healthy for them. So we plant tons and tons of every imaginable variety of flowers and blooming vegetables instead. We also leave weed patches everywhere. This truly wild food is the natural diet of hummingbirds, insects, and other forms of wildlife that we support in our organic garden.
- There are over 300 species of hummingbirds, all in the Western hemisphere, and mostly in the tropics. We are blessed to have many of the 12 species that spend their summers in North America and disappear in the winter in search of warmth in the tropics. Imagine how far these little beauties have to migrate to find warmth in the winter! We have known some resident hummingbirds to overwinter here on Denman Island, as it rarely freezes over here and now with Global Warming a reality, more and more of them might decide to skip the long journey southward altogether.
- Hummingbirds have the largest porportion of brain to body weight, at 4.2% Smart little birds they are!
- A hummingbird has to eat constantly because their metabolism is so high. They use their tongue to lap up nectar from flowers.
- Hummingbirds have the memory of the proverbial elegant: they can remember every flower they have been to and even remember how long said flowers take to refill their nectars.