Guest Author - Malika Harricharan
Hummingbirds, native to Americas, hover in mid-air and flap their wings up to 80 times per second. Although hummingbirds do not chirp, they make noise from the humming sound their wing make when they flap. This is where their name comes from. They can fly vertically, horizontally and even backwards!
Here in Atlanta, the Ruby Throated Hummingbirds have begun their migration. And they are very hungry after their long journey, some traveling over 2,000 miles. Over the next several weeks, I'll be focusing on these beautiful birds.
There are over 300 different species of Hummingbirds. And their lineage dates back about 35 million years! Their bright colors, remarkable energy, and inquisitive nature make them loved and appreciated by many. No wonder they are nicknamed "Flying Jewels." It is surprising to note that up until the 19th century hummingbird bodies were a collector's item due to their beautiful colors. They cannot be kept as pets due to the fact that they must feed so often.
Hummingbirds feed mostly on nectar. Their long tongues make them able to reach deep inside flowers to the source of nectar. While nectar is filling, it is not a good source of protein, so Hummingbirds will also prey on insects and spiders for sources of nutrition. Hummingbirds themselves fall prey to many animals as well like hawks, large spiders and praying mantises. Not only are they themselves prey but their eggs are a delicacy for snakes, squirrels and other creatures.
When it is very cold outside, and hummingbirds find it difficult to find food, they have thee ability to lower their body temperature, metabolism This hibernation-like state is what is called Torpor. During this state their body temperature can be lowered about 20 degrees and heartrate can be lowered from 500 to 50 beats minute.
Another interesting fact is that hummingbirds do not actively nest. When they are raising young, they make a cup-shaped nest on a branch typically the size of a walnut shell.
Some other Hummingbird Myths
-They ride on the backs of other birds during migration
-Hummingbirds don't have feet
-Hummingbirds are a cross between an insect and a bird
Hummingbirds average life span is about 4 years. However, many tend to die within their first year. This is due to the fact that it is sometimes hard to find food. You can do your part by putting out a feeder to keep these beautiful creatures around for years to come.