Hummingbirds are small, but amazing birds. Here are some fun facts about them.
- Show-offs: A hummingbird's metallic-bright colors help it survive. Many of the iridescent feathers are flat and mirrorlike. You can see their flashy hues only when the light shines on them a certain way. Most of the time the feathers just look dull brown. And that makes it hard for predators to spot a hummingbird when it's flitting about. But those tricky colored feathers also help a male get a mate. When it wants to be seen, a male hummer can let the light shine on his feathers in just the right way. (See #6 below for more!)
- High energy fliers: Hummingbirds burn up energy they get from the food they eat faster than any animal, about 100 times faster than an elephant.
- Cold-weather survivors: How do hummingbirds survive cold nights? They go into a sort of hibernation called torpor. During torpor, a hummingbird's temperature falls by almost 50 degrees. Its heart rate drops from 500 beats a minute to less than 50. And it looks as if it were dead. Hummingbirds usually come out of torpor about an hour or two before the sun rises. Then they slowly become active again.
- Amazing migrators: Many hummingbirds migrate amazingly far between their winter and summer homes. For example, some rufous hummingbirds fly more than 2,000 miles (3,220 km) from Mexico north to their summer homes in Alaska. In the fall, they make the same trek in reverse. Hummingbirds migrate alone, not in flocks, resting and feeding often along the way.
- Teeny-tiny newborns: Just-hatched hummingbirds are tiny. Three "newborn" ruby-throated hummingbirds weigh less than a dime!
- Fancy fliers: When a male Anna's hummingbird is courting a female, it flies up as high as 150 feet (46 m) above the female before swooping down toward her, showing off his brilliant colors and clever moves. As he swoops, he makes a loud, popping noise by rubbing his tail feathers together. Many other male hummer species do fancy moves like this, too, to win over a mate.
Want to attract hummingbirds to your yard? Make a hummingbird feeder!