Hummingbird

HummingbirdHummingbird — Hummingbirds are small birds in the family Trochilidae, native only to the Americas. They are known for their ability to hover in mid-air by rapidly flapping their wings, 15–80 times per second (depending on the species). Capable of sustained hovering, the hummingbird has the ability to fly deliberately backwards (this is the only group of birds able to do so) or vertically, and to maintain position while drinking nectar or eating tiny arthropods from flower blossoms. They are named for the characteristic hum made by their wings.

Hummingbirds are small birds with a long, thin bills. This elongated bill is one of the defining characteristics of the hummingbird, which, with an extendable, bifurcated tongue, has evolved in order to allow the bird to feed upon nectar deep within flowers. A hummingbird’s lower bill also has the ability to flex downward to create a wider opening, facilitating the capture of insects in the mouth rather than at the tip of the beak.

The bee Hummingbird (Mellisuga helenae) is the smallest bird in the world, weighing 1.8 grams (0.06 ounces) and measuring about 5 cm (2 inches). A more typical hummingbird, such as the Rufous Hummingbird (Selasphorus rufus), weighs approximately 3 g (0.106 ounces) and has a length of 10–12 cm (3.5–4 inches). The largest hummingbird is the Giant Hummingbird (Patagona gigas), with some individuals weighing as much as 24 grams (0.85 ounces) and measuring 21.5 cm (8.5 inches).

Hummingbirds are attracted to many flowering plants – shrimp plants, bee balm, Heliconia, Buddleja, Hibiscus, bromeliads, cannas, verbenas, honeysuckles, salvias, pentas, fuchsias, many penstemons, and others. It is often stated that they are especially attracted to red and yellow flowers. Once attracted to a garden, hummingbirds may find flowers of other colors more attractive. The location and growing season should determine choices of the plants selected for a garden to attract hummingbirds. They feed on the nectar of these plants and are important pollinators, especially of deep-throated flowers. Hummingbird also take insects or spiders, especially when feeding young.

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