Hummingbirds - The Birds That Kiss Flowers.
The Brazilians call this vibrant bird beija-flor - the bird that kisses flowers.
Other bird lovers fittingly call these tiny delights "lovely fragments of the rainbow," or "living jewels."
What species of birds deserve such cheerful and elegant names? - None other than the busy hummingbird.
With their vivid plumage, and unique size, the hummingbird is an absolutely amazing little creature.
Here are several fascinating facts about this colorful bird:
1.) The largest hummingbird [Patagona gigas] is found in western South America from Ecuador to Chile, and is 8.5 inches [22 cm] in overall length.
2.) The smallest hummingbird; the Bee Hummingbird; is native to Cuba and is 2.25 inches [6 cm] long from the tip of it's tail to the tip of it's bill.
3.) There are over 320 species of hummingbirds and they make up the second-largest bird family in the Western Hemisphere.
4.) Their small nest are made of soft plant materials, and fine feathers woven together with cobwebs (their eggs being the size of small jellybeans, peas, and white like pearls).
5.) The main habitat of hummingbirds include the equatorial zone across South America from sea level to more than 15,000 feet [4,500 m] and some islands of the Caribbean and the Pacific.
During the summer months, they are found as far north as Alaska and as far south as Tierra del Fuego.
6.) Although small and petite, hummingbirds will fearlessly defend their territory against any bird - their own kind being no exception to rule.
7.) Unlike most birds, hummingbirds rarely walk. They feed on the wing (while hovering midair).
8.) Hummingbirds posses bills varying in shape and length according to their species. Therefore, they choose blossoms that are particularly suited to them.
9.) Hummingbirds supplement their nectar diet, by catching fruit flies and plucking aphids (plant lice/small plant eating insects) off vegetation.
10.) The tongue of a hummingbird is long, narrow, forked and slightly hairy at the tip. Two curled furrows divide the tongue, creating tiny troughs which enable nectar to be carried by capillary action until it is swallowed.
11.) While hovering, some hummingbirds achieve a wing-beat of 78 times per second, or 4,680 beats per minute!
12.) Sadly, at one time, millions were slaughtered to provide decorations for the European millinery trade ("the profession or business of designing, making, or selling hats, dresses, and hat trim. It can also be used to refer to a type of store that sells those goods" - Wikipedia), likely exterminating certain species.
"The bird that kisses flowers, living jewels, or lovely fragments of the rainbow," whatever you call them, hummingbirds are undeniably a bird worthy of admiration.
Tools For Hummingbird Watching!
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