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Image: Hummingbird

Hummingbirds: The Bodybuilders in Your Backyard!

Ready to find more wonder and awe right in your own backyard? A creature with giant pectoral muscles, a huge heart, a voracious appetite, and vicious tendencies lives among us. No, it’s not an apex predator, it’s the world’s tiniest bird! What hummingbirds lack in size, they make up for in some fascinating adaptations you may not know about.

Hummingbirds have stolen the hearts of many, but what is it about them that makes these birds so interesting? This buzzing, shockingly fast little bird is about to bring so much more excitement to your summer!

All in the name of nectar!

If you live in the Americas, you’ve probably encountered these humming, nectar-obsessed tiny birds before. They zip from flower to flower, seemingly in an instant, buzzing by like a giant insect on the hunt for more and more food. Little have we onlookers known, though, that we are in the presence of a bird like no other—capable of feats we won’t see any other birds pull off.

From hitting speeds of 60 MPH in their dives, having sword-fights for territory,  hovering in mid-air, and performing acrobatics, hummingbirds are full of surprises.

So, for a much needed introduction to these small but mighty creatures, we turn to this fantastic short video from TED-Ed! What a welcome reminder that there’s so much wonder to find right outside our windows.

Via: TED-Ed 1

Find more of our TED-Ed videos by heading over to their full library to keep exploring their collection of amazing insights in whatever direction you’d like.

Want to feel refreshed and excited about the future? Check out our founder’s TEDx Talk: Exposing the Conspiracy of Goodness.

In 11 minutes, you will know how to see and connect with an enormous wave of goodness and progress well underway in the world that almost no one knows about.

Watch Now!

Other fun facts I’ve stumbled upon about hummingbirds!

  • The smallest hummingbird species, the bee hummingbird of Cuba, weighs just 1.6–1.9g (little more than a standard paperclip). Its eggs are smaller than coffee beans. 2
  • Of the 350 known hummingbird species, only 8 of them live in the United States. The rest live in the tropics of Central and South America! 3
  • Because they need to eat so much, they’d starve overnight without going into torpor. 4
  • Hummingbirds don’t have a sense of smell! Their eyesight is great, though. 5
  • They also can’t walk or bounce! In order to fly better, they’ve given up having strong legs. In fact, their legs are so weak that for them to move while not in flight, they can only perch on a branch and scoot along it. Even the name of the order they’re in, Apodiformes, is based on the Greek words “a pous,” meaning “without foot.” 6
  • Hummingbirds are migratory. Some, like the Rufous Hummingbird, have extremely long trips. They fly over 3000 miles from Alaska to Mexico twice a year! It’s one of the longest migratory journeys of any bird, in reference to their body size. This typical migration is 78,470,000 body lengths! 7
Image: Rufous Hummingbird, with marvelous orange feathers, looking into the camera.
Rufous Hummingbird
Source: Pixabay

How to help these small wonders!

Because they travel so much throughout the year and need constant food, planting a garden ripe with some of the hummingbirds favorite flowers is one of the easiest ways to help them! There are even wildflower seed packets specifically mixed with flowers they love that you can likely find at your local garden store.

Another simple way to give our fast friends the food they need is to hang up a feeder with sugar water. It’s 1 part white sugar to 4 parts water! All you need to do is mix it until it’s dissolved. Here’s a guide on how to make this simple food from the Smithsonian’s National Zoo & Conservation Biology Institute. Just make sure you change and clean these feeders daily to ensure mold doesn’t grow and endanger the hummingbirds!

Of course, the easiest way to start helping them right now is to tell your friends what you’ve learned in this article. Share how awesome these marvels of nature are and count yourself lucky when you see one in action!

We live in an amazing world, full of unexpected twists and turns—just like the hummingbird.

When we start to open our minds to learn more about our backyard neighbors, the more exciting a relaxing summer afternoon can be. Every moment can become more wonderful when we take the time to get to know what they’re capable of. It’s the simplest way to start finding more joy in your life!

For more wonder close to home, discover the fascinating creatures in these articles!

Can Squirrels Outsmart a NASA Engineer?

These fuzzy backyard bandits are breaking into bird feeders across the globe! But can this former NASA engineer design a squirrel-proof bird feeder? Check out this ingenious course he came up with, meet the contenders, and prepare for the most amazing—and hilarious—look at how our squirrel friends work their magic!

Read Article Watch Video Listen to Podcast
A Bird that Sings Like a Dog… And a Camera?

Have you ever heard the song of the lyrebird? These strange birds take the sounds of dogs, cameras, chainsaws, and other birds to create their mating calls!

Read Article Watch Video Listen to Podcast
Living with Fun in Mind! Lessons from New Zealand’s Smartest Parrot

Adding more fun into our daily lives may not be as difficult as we think! The kea—an unbelievably unique parrot known for their curious and mischievous ways—are masters at play, and they have a few things to show us about this delightful way to thrive in life!

Read Article Watch Video Listen to Podcast

As always, my friend, stay open to new possibilities! Take a page out of the hummingbird’s book and keep seeking out the sweetness.

  • Sam

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Notes:

  1. TED-Ed. “The Surprising Secrets of Hummingbird Flight – Kristiina J. Hurme and Alejandro Rico-Guevara.” YouTube, 8 Apr. 2021, www.youtube.com/watch?v=1Lt3nd4QKy4. Accessed 17 May 2021.
  2. Coppard, Sam. “Hummingbird Guide: Species Facts and Where to See.” Discover Wildlife, Discover Wildlife, 30 Apr. 2020, www.discoverwildlife.com/animal-facts/birds/facts-about-hummingbirds/. Accessed 17 May 2021.‌
  3. Coppard, Sam. “Hummingbird Guide: Species Facts and Where to See.” Discover Wildlife, Discover Wildlife, 30 Apr. 2020, www.discoverwildlife.com/animal-facts/birds/facts-about-hummingbirds/. Accessed 17 May 2021.‌
  4. Coppard, Sam. “Hummingbird Guide: Species Facts and Where to See.” Discover Wildlife, Discover Wildlife, 30 Apr. 2020, www.discoverwildlife.com/animal-facts/birds/facts-about-hummingbirds/. Accessed 17 May 2021.
  5. https://www.facebook.com/thespruceofficial. “Discover 25 Fun Facts about Hummingbirds.” The Spruce, 2021, www.thespruce.com/fun-facts-about-hummingbirds-387106. Accessed 17 May 2021.
  6. “Swifts and Hummingbirds: Apodiformes | Encyclopedia.com.” Encyclopedia.com, 2021, www.encyclopedia.com/science/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/swifts-and-hummingbirds-apodiformes. Accessed 17 May 2021.‌
  7. “Rufous Hummingbird Overview, All about Birds, Cornell Lab of Ornithology.” Allaboutbirds.org, 2019, www.allaboutbirds.org/guide/Rufous_Hummingbird/overview. Accessed 17 May 2021.‌
Published: June 25, 2021

Image: Samantha Burns

Sam Burns

Former Editor-In-Chief

Sam wrote and edited hundreds of articles during her time on the Goodness Exchange team from 2016-2021. She wrote about topics from the wonders of nature to the organizations changing the world and the simple joys in life! Outside of the Goodness Exchange, she’s a part-time printmaker, collector of knick-knacks, and procurer of cheeses.

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