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Hummingbirds - The Bird that Personifies Diversity.

Updated on December 18, 2012
public domain
public domain

Fellow hubber Webismine asked this question: "How big is a hummingbird?"

Widely diverse and incredibly widespread, according to the book, Hummingbirds, by Melanie Votaw, "with over 340 known species, there are more different kinds of hummingbirds in the Americas than almost any other type of bird" - in more than 100 genera.

With surprising adaptability, these fascinating creatures "exist all the way from Alaska to the islands off the southern tip of South America, ranging in habitats as diverse as tropical forests, deserts, and the cold mountaintops of the Andes" - so continued the book.

The diversity of the hummingbird doesn't end there. These gorgeous creatures come in a rainbow of colors, possess a variety of tail lengths and bill shapes, and come in a variety of sizes.

Look fast - or you just might miss this tiny bee hummingbird

Ruby-throated Hummingbird        Public domain
Ruby-throated Hummingbird Public domain
White-tipped Sicklebill Hummingbird     Public domain
White-tipped Sicklebill Hummingbird Public domain
The fiesty Rufous Hummingbird    Public domain
The fiesty Rufous Hummingbird Public domain
The Giant Hummingbird
The Giant Hummingbird

* From the Tiny Cuban Bee Hummingbird to the Giant Hummingbird and Everything In-between.

In relation to other birds, hummingbirds are considered to be the smallest birds in the world.

Many weigh no more than a penny, and are equivalent in size to a human thumb (as the norm, females are slightly larger than males) the hummingbird truly stands apart in regards to its unique size.

Listed below are several hummingbird species and their sizes:

  1. The Bee Hummingbird - about the size of a large bee, the bee hummingbird measures in around 1.8 grams (0.063 oz) with a length of 5 centimetres (2.0 in). The Cuban Bee hummingbird happens to be the tiniest - measuring in at 2 inches including bill and tail, and weighing in about 0.07 ounces - many dragonflies measuring in larger than this. - Hummingbirds - Jewels in Flight, by Connie Toops.
  2. The Rubby-throated/Black-chinned Hummingbird - only slightly larger than bee hummingbirds, the ruby-throated hummingbird measures in at 7-9 cm long with an 8-11 cm wingspan, and weighs about 3 g, while the black-chinned hummingbird measures in at 8.25 cm (3 1/4 inches) long. Both weigh as much as a penny.
  3. The White-tipped Sicklebill - these unique hummingbirds possess a curved bill and measure in at 4.7–5.5 in (12–14 cm) and weigh 0.3–0.35 oz (8–10 g) - females, while the males measure in at 0.35–0.44 oz (10–12.5 g).
  4. The Rufous Hummingbird - these feisty hummingbirds measure in at about 8 cm long (3 inches).
  5. The Fiery-throated Hummingbird - considered a medium sized hummingbird, these types measure in at 11cm long and weighs 5.7 g.
  6. The Blue-throated Hummingbird - this is a fairly large hummingbird compared to it's peers. It measure in at 11.5 to 12.5 cm (4½ to 5 inches) in length and weighs 6 to 10 grams.
  7. The Giant Hummingbird - measuring in at 21.5 cm (8 1/2 in) in length, and weighing in at 18-20 g (6/10 - 7/10 of an ounce), the giant hummingbird is the largest member of the hummingbird family.

Stunning photos of hummingbirds - plus cool hummingbird facts.

* More Cool Hummingbird Facts.

  • The wing beat of a male ruby-throated hummingbird can reach a rate of 200 beats per second!
  • Hummingbirds "can drink the nectar from as many as three thousand flowers a day, eating every ten minutes, and consuming up to 75% of their body weight. If humans had this metabolism, (they) would have to eat twenty thousand calories daily - about fifty pounds of sugar or three hundred pounds of hamburger - just to maintain (their) weight." - Hummingbirds, by Melanie Votaw.
  • Rufous hummingbirds can migrate the longest distance and out-fly all of its hummingbird peers.
  • Hummingbirds migrate alone, not in a flock.
  • Over five billion hummingbirds migrate each and every year.
  • Due to their bravery and often time aggressiveness, in addition to the wolf and the eagle, the Navajos refer to hummingbirds as a symbol of courage.
  • Due to their beautiful plumage, during the late 1800s, hummingbird feathers were in such high demand that Nineteenth century collectors were purchasing stuffed hummingbirds to display; the feathers were used to decorate jewelry, hats, fans, and dresses; and the preserved skins of hummingbirds were shipped in barrels from ports in Colombia and Brazil to London and Paris- only to be auctioned off to fashion designers. The slaughter of these innocent creatures was so great, that by 1990, twenty-nine species of hummingbirds were classified as endangered. - Hummingbirds - Jewels in Flight, by Connie Toops.
  • Only hummingbirds fly upside-down and in reverse.
  • Hummingbirds have few natural enemies - no doubt due to their speed. However, on occasions praying mantises have been seen to nab a hummingbird while laying in wait on feeders or flowers.

Colorful, vibrant, vivacious, and stunning, in addition to its many colors and sizes, hummingbirds are truly a bird that personifies diversity.

copyright © 2010

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    • Veronica Allen profile imageAUTHOR

      Veronica Allen 

      7 years ago from Georgia

      Thank you so much tsmog for sharing your experience with these lovely birds with us. I'm glad you enjoyed the hub.

    • tsmog profile image

      Tim Mitchell 

      7 years ago from Escondido, CA

      Great Hub article. I learned some interesting things. I know hummingbirds migrated, but didn't know they do it alone. I have many living near my home and much more during the late spring to fall months. They greet me when I wake up with coffee and my hat straw hat is on. They don't greet meet as readily when I don't wear my hat. Pretty cool.

    • Veronica Allen profile imageAUTHOR

      Veronica Allen 

      8 years ago from Georgia

      creativeone - It is so good to hear from you. I know you have been busy writing as much as possible. Thank you for stopping by. I always look forward to your visits.

      Alahiker28 - I've just finished the hub addressing your question - entitled, "things to consider when feeding hummingbirds". I hope it is a solution to your hummingbird feeding problem.

    • creativeone59 profile image

      benny Faye Douglass 

      8 years ago from Gold Canyon, Arizona

      Thank you Veronica, for sharing so much information that I didn't know about humming birds, I realy enjoyed reading aall about the little humming birds. thank you for a fantastic hub. Godspeed. creaqtiveone59

    • Veronica Allen profile imageAUTHOR

      Veronica Allen 

      8 years ago from Georgia

      Habee - In the words of Napolean Dynamite - LUCKY! I haven't seen these little creatures in some time. Everyone else seems to have spotted them this year except me. Thanks for stopping by.

      Alahiker28, hi there - thanks for stopping by. That is a great question - You have just inpsired another hub - so look out for the answer... in a hub I will be writing right now.

    • alahiker28 profile image

      Vicki Parker 

      8 years ago from the Deep South

      Nice hub! I have lots of them stop by, but they don't seem to like the nectar I buy. Any ideas on what they REALLY like to eat?

    • habee profile image

      Holle Abee 

      8 years ago from Georgia

      These are amazing little creatures! They come to the flowers on my deck, and I enjoy watching them while I'm in the pool. Great hub!

    • Veronica Allen profile imageAUTHOR

      Veronica Allen 

      8 years ago from Georgia

      Thank you suzyh1951 for stopping by. I must get a feeder as quickly as possible. I miss those beautiful birds. I see you just joined hubpages 19 hours ago - so welcome!

    • profile image

      suzyh1951 

      8 years ago

      Beautiful article and photos! We get a lot of hummingbirds here at our feeder, mostly the ruby-throated. They shimmer so prettily as they hover around. Good job!

    • Veronica Allen profile imageAUTHOR

      Veronica Allen 

      8 years ago from Georgia

      Thank you guys for taking the time to stop by, read, and leave feedback.

      Hello, hello - I know you too have written about hummingbirds yourself and there is just so much information on them it really boggles the mind.

      Sarovai - thank you for stopping by, It is good to hear from you.

      BkCreative - I have yet to see a bee hummingbird - I would love to see that. The last time I saw a hummingbird was when I lived in Alabama. My friend had hummingbird feeders in her yard and we used to be graced by their presence everyday during the spring and summer months. Thanks for the rating and thank you for stopping by.

    • BkCreative profile image

      BkCreative 

      8 years ago from Brooklyn, New York City

      You know I had some bee hummingbirds in my front garden up here in NY - but had no idea what they were. Fortunately, I have a great Southern cousin who knows all about the birds and the bees and told me.

      Thanks for including that youtube video. Wow! do these tiny birds work fast. We should thank them.

      Thank you for such a great hub. Rated up of course!

    • sarovai profile image

      sarovai 

      8 years ago

      Thank u for sharing about hummingbirds and their pictures.

    • Hello, hello, profile image

      Hello, hello, 

      8 years ago from London, UK

      You have done a great and wonderful research. Thank you for all these interesting information.

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