Hummingbirds are some of the most common birds you’ll see. You can find hummingbirds near gardens, forests, trees, and grassy areas. In fact, you might have already seen a small yet cute hummingbird hovering over flowers at some point. Humans have long been fascinated by these tiny creatures. For the ancient Aztecs, hummingbirds were known as messengers from gods. Some Native Americans believe that these small birds brought love, luck, and happiness whenever they visited someone.
Small as they are, these birds, as with any creature, play a significant role in the ecosystem. Without hummingbirds, certain lifeforms will cease to exist. With that said, here are some more interesting hummingbird facts you should know about.
Hummingbirds are Pollinators
As mentioned earlier, hummingbirds are essential for the ecosystem. Aside from bees, hummingbirds pollinate flowers. Pollination is the process of transferring pollen from one source to another. The transfer of pollens enables the fertilization of plants, which in turn bear fruit and seeds.
Hummingbirds don’t eat the pollen but the nectar from the flowers. The powder gets on their bodies, which then drops to another flower the birds’ visit. Without this process, plants would never bloom and bear fruit.
The Smallest Bird Is the World Is the Bee Hummingbird
In terms of size, the largest bird in the world is the Ostrich. If you compare the bee hummingbird to an ostrich in size, you’ll be amused to find out that even the ostrich’s eyeball is bigger than the hummingbird. Typically, bee hummingbirds can measure up to 5cm, but smaller specimens at 50 mm. Bee hummingbirds or zunzuncito are found in Cuba and the Isle of Youth.
Small Bird, Fast Heart
Aside from size, one of the most distinct traits a hummingbird has is it’s absurdly fast heart rate. When flying a hummingbird’s heart can beat a staggering 1,200 times per minute. The reason for such a rapid heart rate is that hummingbirds require more energy to move around.
Compared to a regular bird, a hummingbird flaps its wings faster. Some hummingbirds can flap their wings at least 70 times in a second. This flapping requires tremendous energy, hence the fast heart rate. Although the heart rate of a hummingbird lowers to 250 beats per minute when resting, it’s still considerably higher than a human being’s resting heart rate at 60-100 beats per minute.
Hummingbirds “Hibernate” Every Night
Hummingbirds often enter a hibernation-like sleep when they rest during the night. This state is called Torpor. When a hummingbird is in torpor, its heart rate drops to 50. Their metabolism also slows down.
Some species are known to hang upside down while in torpor, and some hummingbirds can appear dead. Even if you touch a hummingbird, they are tough to wake up when they’re in torpor. In fact, a hummingbird who usually wakes up from this state needs 20 minutes or an hour to recover fully.
Hummingbirds Use Their Tongue to Feed, Not Their Beaks
You might have seen a hummingbird dip its beak into a flower and feed. However, what you don’t see is that hummingbirds actually use their long, forked tongue to get nectar out of the flower. The beaks of hummingbirds are long, thin, and extremely delicate. Hummingbirds hover and insert their beaks and let out their tongues to gather the sweet nectar.
It’s often said that big things come in small packages. A perfect example of that saying is the hummingbird. Small as they are, these birds are essential to the ecosystem. Aside from being pollinators, a lot of people enjoy watching hummingbirds. For some, seeing a hummingbird flapping their wings and hovering over flowers is a calming sight to behold.