Hummingbirds are among the smallest of all bird species. They are known as hummingbirds because of the sound created by their beating wings. They achieve this by rapidly flapping their wings 12–80 times per second, at this speed hummingbirds are able to hover in mid-air.
Where do hummingbirds live?
|Andean hillstar hummingbird|
The greatest number of species are found in the humid tropical and subtropical forests of the northern Andes and adjacent foothills. However, the number of hummingbird species found in the Atlantic Forest, Central America or southern Mexico also far exceeds the number found in southern South America, the Caribbean islands, the United States and Canada.
|Ruby throated hummingbird|
Only the migratory Ruby-throated Hummingbird breeds in North America.
The Black-chinned Hummingbird, its close relative and another migrant, is the most widespread and common species in the western United States, while the Rufous Hummingbird is the most widespread species in eastern United States.
What do Hummingbirds eat?
With the exception of insects, hummingbirds in flight have the highest metabolism of all animals, a necessity in order to support the rapid beating of their wings. However this comes at a high price as hummingbirds need to consume more than their own weight in nectar each day. They achieve this by visit hundreds of flowers every day.
Nectar is a highly valuable source of energy which is found in the form of simple sugars, and these sugars fuel the hummingbirds intense flight.
Hummingbirds drink the nectar, and like bees, they are able to assess the amount of sugar in the nectar they eat. In fact, hummingbirds reject plant species whose flowers produce nectar that is less than 10% sugar. Unfortunately nectar is a poor source of nutrients, so hummingbirds meet their needs for protein, amino acids, vitamins, and minerals by preying on insects and spiders.
They spend an average of 10–15% of their time feeding and 75–80% sitting and digesting. Hummingbirds are typically very territorial when it comes to food so once a hummingbird finds a consistent source of food - such as an artificial feeder - it will fight off other hummingbirds to achieve dominance over the food source.
It is a fine balance as hummingbirds are continuously hours away from starving to death, and are only able to store just enough energy to survive overnight.
To conserve energy while they sleep or when food is scarce, they have the ability to go into a hibernation-like state (torpor) where their metabolic rate is slowed to 1/15th of its normal rate.
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Based on an article from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hummingbirdq
Images care of http://www.fs.fed.us/wildflowers/pollinators/pollinator-of-the-month/ruby-throated_hummingbird.shtml and http://animals.nationalgeographic.com/animals/birds/ruby-throat-hummingbird/