Hummingbirds

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Hummingbirds spend most of their waking hours eating—sometimes visiting as many as a thousand blooms a day. Every 24 hours, they drink several times their weight in water. Click on the icons below to learn where hummingbirds live, what they eat, how they hunt and how they reproduce. You can even pet a hummingbird in Zoobooks Virtual Zoo!

Hummingbirds fly like little helicopters. They can hover, move from side to side, go straight up, straight down, and even backwards. They do all this by rotating each wing in a circle, which is similar to the way a helicopter flies. Because they can maneuver so well around other birds, they have no fear of predators. These feisty little birds will even attack eagles if their babies are in danger—and they are not too shy to pluck fuzz off our sweaters to build their nests.

Hunt

Hummingbirds have unusual tongues. The front half is split and has fringed edges. The fringed area helps the hummingbird capture insects and soak up nectar during rapid licking. Hummingbirds are attracted to the bright colors of flowers, especially red. In fact, young hummingbirds often mistake brightly colored objects like stop signs—for a food source.

Eat

For protein, hummingbirds eat insects. Mostly, however, they drink the nectar in flowers. Hummingbirds spend most of their waking hours eating—sometimes visiting as many as a thousand blooms a day. Every 24 hours, they drink several times their weight in water. This is all necessary because they lose body heat very quickly, and must keep eating to replenish their energy. At night, they sometimes go into torpor, or suspended animation, to keep from starving to death while they rest.

Multiply

A female hummingbird either builds her nest to hang from twigs or saddles it on a tree limb. She binds together seeds, dried flower heads, and plant down with the silk from spider webs, and covers the outside with lichens. Inside this nest, which is hardly bigger than a quarter, she usually lays two eggs. She works hard to care for her chicks, even after they have left the nest.

Habitat

Hummingbirds are spread throughout the Americas, from Alaska to the tip of South America. They are at home in tropical rain forests, deserts, mountains, and plains. Hummingbirds can be found almost anywhere that flowers bloom.

Survival Status

Hummingbirds need only an undisturbed food source to survive. Their future, then, depends on their habitat not being disturbed. Chances are good that the hummingbird will always be able to thrive, especially in mountainous regions.