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10 Amazing Facts About Hummingbirds

We share 10 cool things about these tiny, amazing birds along with feeding tips, plus when you will see them in your back yard!

As we are entering full swing into spring, and temperatures are warming, many are waiting expectantly for the return of the hummingbirds. Here in the Northeast, the Ruby-Throated Hummingbird will be the star of the show. Where you live determines when you’ll see them (see below).  Enjoy these facts about these wonderful, tiny creatures.

10 Fascinating Hummingbird Facts

  1. Hummingbirds are tiny—and weigh between 2 to 20 grams (2 grams = 0.00440925 lbs).
  2. They feed on nectar, as well as insects and tiny spiders for protein.
  3. While they are known for their ability to hover in mid-air by rapidly flapping their wings, they are also the only known group of birds able to fly backward.
  4. Hummingbirds have very tiny feet that are not well suited for walking but well designed for perching.
  5. Hummingbirds rotate their entire wing, with little or no flexing of the wrist or hand joints. And, because of this unique but inefficient means of flight, they must eat a lot of food each day, with nectar often amounting to 100-200% of their body weight.
  6. While some scientists don’t agree, the exact number of species is perhaps 329, making them the second largest family of birds after flycatchers.
  7. When still, the hummingbird’s heart beats 500 times a minute and doubles when excited.
  8. In order to hover, the hummingbird has to beat its wings 60 times per second. When perched, the hummingbird does not push off with its feet like other birds but will begin by beating its wings.
  9. A hummingbird has to visit at least 1,500 flowers a day in search of nectar because of their great expenditure of energy to stay warm and maintain their heart rate. A flower’s nectar is high in sucrose, which is a sugar that is easily digested. It is also a form of quick energy.
  10. Hummingbirds have no sense of smell but they have keen hearing and sight to find those brightly colored flowers!

Feeding Tips

Hummingbirds - Rufous hummingbird

Special feeding bottles can be purchased or a simple red dish or red-wrapped bottle can be used. Fill these with sugar water. To make sugar water, combine one part granulated sugar with four parts water and heat until sugar dissolves. Store in the refrigerator. Never use honey, as it will ferment, creating a fungus on the hummingbird’s tongue. Artificial sweeteners have no food value and, therefore, will not provide the birds with any energy. This will lead to slow starvation. Do not add red food coloring to the sugar water!

To attract hummingbirds to your garden:

growing birdseed
Bee Balm

Make sure that you choose flowers that can produce nectar, grow well in your area and are brightly colored. Many flowers known to attract hummingbirds have blossoms that are red to orange in color. Some flower suggestions include:

Azalea
Bee Balm
Begonia
Bleeding Heart
Bottlebrush
Buttercup
Columbine
Cypress Vine
Dahlia
Daylily
Delphinium
Four O’clock
Fuchsia
Geranium
Gladiola
Hibiscus
Honeysuckle
Jasmine
Mexican Sage
Morning Glory
Phlox
Pineapple Sage
Scarlet Sage
Snapdragon
Sweet William

When will you see them?

The Audubon Society shares when you can expect to see them in your region. 

Watch hummingbirds in slow motion!

This article was published by the staff at Farmers' Almanac. Interested in becoming a guest author? Contact us to let us know!

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Maria Moncivais

Yes!

Phyllis Goss

I live in Emporia, Kansas, and have a large yard full of flowers. We have many feeders for the hummingbirds, and many many visitors. It is interesting to watch the very wide variety of flowers they like. They can become very tame.

Pat Coghlan

We have hummingbirds that sit quietly on the top of the shepherd’s hook above their feeder. Is that normal?

Cars rhodes

Why do they fight each other?

Darlene Baker

Two hummingbird stories. When I lived in the woods I had lots of ruby-throats outside my window … one day I watched one of them perched on top of the feeder shooting out his long tongue to catch raindrops as they fell. So cute. Once I had an out-of-range rufous for a week … when he wasn’t feeding, he’d perch on a nearby twig and dive-bomb the rubies when they approached the feeder. He was lost so I didn’t blame him for being cranky.

Debra Higginbotham-Reither

I love the hummers! I am unable to feed them due to yellow jackets & carpenter ants get inside & contaminate the sugar water.

Katy Cunningham

Add Flowering Maple also know as Chinese Lantern to the hummingbird favorite flowering bush list!!

Brenda Hall

I live 28 miles northeast of Cincinnati and put our hummingbird feeders out around the 20th of April and take them down by the 20th of October. They our here and loving the feeders as not to many of our perennials are in bloom yet. They love our butterfly bush, our blushing bride bush, azalia bush, day lilies, bleeding heart bushes and hosta. We added more feeders last year because one hummingbird was not letting others feed from it. We added a birdbath too, for a water source. We enjoy watching them and they get quit close to us when we are on our deck. We have a feeder on the deck rail. Enjoy.

Chris Chudzik

The hornets and wasps get in your feeders you can’t keep them away but not a nusense. Hummers like most animals do not have red receptors in the eyes so they don’t see red just attracted because it’s dark. Clean you feeders every time you fill them use vinegar water solution only. Hummers are interesting, ever see them zooming 2 abreast straight up, it’s a mating dance.

Becci B

Cherri bushey, most likely you are seeing yellow jackets and not bees. Bees go after pollen, yellow jackets go after anything sweet. Someone (in the post) said that they (bees) like yellow so maybe try changing the color of your feeder to red or orange. Just a thought. I am going to try that this year and see if it helps with the yellow jacket problem I am having. Good luck to ya and enjoy those hummers! I saw my first one this morning early. Got right in and made feed, dusted off my feeders and am setting them out now. Love those little things!!

Gail Z

The hummingbirds in my yard love coral bells. They are a perennial.

Bob Lechleidner

Hummingbirds in my area love our Hostas when they are in bloom !

Julie

Was at a friend’s who has wild flowers (weeds) in his yard. A tiny, tiny hummingbird was gorging on the nector. It had a green collar with red at his throat. Very beautiful to watch….

Gail Floto

Annual, Spider Plants, Cleome

Ellen Maslar

Wanda, the 1 part sugar to 4 parts water means …example…1 cup sugar and 4 cups water……or if your making less

Mary Beth McCarthy

My humming birds love my butterfly bush. Such a joy to see them every summer.

Gina Delph

My birds love my Mandavilla vine… Does any one know what is the earliest date my hummingbirds return to Ohio ?

Gina Delph

My hummingbirds love my Mandevilla vine… Does anyone know what is the earliest date my hummingbirds return to Ohio ?

Lana Stanco

I also love the hummers but am bothered by the bees.

Veronica Shirley

Bees are attracted by the color yellow get feeders without yellow or change the color

Veronica Shirley

Bees are attracted by the yellow color get feeders without yellow or change the color

Christine

They also come to red and purple petunias!(particularly my hanging basket!)

JDavis

On the list of flowers above, quite a few if them are perennials. Hummers really don’t care, but to build a garden with perennials I would suggest online search & consider your “zone” (for plant hardiness).

Brenda marlowe

Does anyone know out of the list of flowers above are these all perennials or are there any annuals?

Wanda Mullen

what is 1 part?

Jan Byrd

Just getting into the hummingbird
thing had them last year and loved them

cherri bushey

Love the hummers!! But how do you keep bees off of the feeders?

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