“How long do hummingbirds live and where?” These are just two of the most frequently asked questions about these captivating creatures. A hummingbird’s life span and where it resides can vary depending on several factors, including their specific species.
Keep reading if you’d like to learn more about these and other interesting facts about hummingbirds!
How long do hummingbirds live?
Hummingbirds are fascinating in so many ways — including their relatively long lifespan for such a small creature with the fast metabolism they have. For most North American species (the kind most often studied), a hummingbird’s lifespan is thought to be between 3-5 years.
However, it’s important to note that many hummingbirds die during their first year of life when they’re particularly vulnerable to prey and other threats. But, if a hummingbird can make it past this first year, their life expectancy goes up significantly!
On the other hand, some studied hummingbirds have lived to be at least 12 years old.
Where do hummingbirds live?
Most hummingbirds are found on the Earth’s western hemisphere — also known as the New World. This includes Central and South America all the way to Alaska. Most hummingbirds live in the tropics — but in most areas of the United States, you’ll find at least one or two hummingbird species.
The eastern side of the United States is heavily populated with ruby-throated hummingbirds, while the western half has more breeding Anna’s, rufous, and black-throated hummingbirds.
Western Canada is the most popular breeding area for the rufous species, and the rest of Canada is primarily dominated by ruby-throated hummingbirds.
Where do hummingbirds nest?
Finding a hummingbird nest can be very exciting. But where are you most likely to find them? As it turns out, most hummingbirds nest in trees or shrubs. They’re particularly fond of areas where branches fork and they can build a nest within the gap.
If you want to attract hummingbirds to your yard, having places like that for them to nest is very important.
Hummingbird nests don’t look like regular bird nests, so they can be difficult to spot. Like the birds themselves, their nests are quite tiny — not much wider than a quarter. This is plenty of room for hummingbird eggs, which are only about the size of a bean. Interestingly, the sides of the nest are flexible, and the nest can grow along with the baby birds.
You’ll also want to make sure there’s a large supply of nectar for them to eat, whether from homemade nectar in hummingbird feeders, plant nectar, or a combination of the two. To learn more about what hummingbirds eat, as well as a recipe to make your own hummingbird food, don’t miss this useful article!
How much do hummingbirds weigh?
We all know hummingbirds are small — but would it surprise you to hear that — on average — they weigh less than a nickel? It’s true! Most ruby-throated hummingbirds, for example, weigh about 3 grams, while a nickel weighs 4.5 grams.
Before a female hummingbird lays her eggs, they could make up as much as 10% of her bodyweight.
How much do hummingbirds eat and how often?
A defining characteristic of hummingbirds is their incredibly fast metabolism. To get the energy they need, most hummingbirds eat about 5-8 times per hour, and consume about half their bodyweight just in sugar each day. Although nectar is a hummingbird’s primary food source, they also eat things like spiders and other small insects.
Hummingbirds spend most of their time hovering, which requires an incredible amount of energy. Luckily, their incredible ability to quickly convert sugar into energy allows them to do this. But after a long migration, hummingbirds are understandably exhausted. That’s why having hummingbird feeders stocked and ready to offer them the food they need is a great way to attract them and keep them coming back.
There are all sorts of beautiful options for hummingbird feeders, as well as ant, bee, and wasp-proof feeders. Take a look at some of them here.
How fast do hummingbirds fly and how?
Hummingbirds have some very unique flight characteristics that are worth discussing. Unlike other birds, they can fly forward, AND backyard, sideways, and straight up and down. They can also beat their wings between 8 and 200 times per second and can fly up to 60 miles per hour — so what gives them these special abilities?
Scientists have studied hummingbirds for years, and discovered several things that give them an advantage in the air.
For starters, their bones are hollow, which makes them even lighter. They also have fused vertebrae and pelvic bones, which gives them adequate support in a compact space.
Compared to the rest of their body, hummingbirds also have disproportionately large chest muscles that often make up about 25% of their bodyweight. These powerful muscles are what help them move their wings so quickly and efficiently. Inside that large chest is a relatively large heart for such a small bird. With a bigger heart, they’re able to get more oxygen to the muscles that help them fly.
Now that we’ve covered some of the basic hummingbird facts, here are a few more interesting tidbits you might not have known:
- Hummingbirds got their name from the sound their wings make from flapping so quickly
- They can’t smell, but they have a keen sense of color vision, which helps them seek out the red plants they love so much.
- A hummingbird can move its tongue up to 13 times per second while it eats.
- There are over 350 species of hummingbirds. Only eight of them regularly breed in the United States and the rest are found in the tropics.
- Females lay an average of two eggs, and the hatchlings usually leave the nest within 18 days of hatching.
- These clever birds are thought to be able to remember faces, and they also return to the exact same places year after year.
- A hummingbird’s heart can beat up to 1200 times per second. To put that in perspective, the average human heart rate is between 60-100 beats per MINUTE!
If you’re looking for excellent gift ideas for hummingbirds lovers, be sure to have a look at these!