The Iridescent Hummingbirds
Hummingbirds are small, colorful birds with iridescent feathers. Their name comes from the fact that they flap their wings so fast (about 80 times per second) that they make a humming noise. They can fly right, left, up, down, backwards, and even upside down, and are also able to hover by flapping their wings in a figure-8 pattern. The hummingbird’s feet are used for perching only, and are not used for hopping or walking.
Hummingbirds primarily eat flower nectar, tree sap, insects and pollen. Their specialized long and tapered bill is used to obtain nectar from the center of long, tubular flowers. The hummingbird’s fast breathing rate, fast heartbeat and high body temperature require that they eat often. Hummingbirds have a long tongue which they use to lick their food at a rate of up to 13 licks per second.
They are found only in the Western Hemisphere, from southeastern Alaska to southern Chile, although most live in the tropics. There are 320 species of hummingbirds, 12 of which summer in North America and winter in tropical areas. Habitat loss and destruction are the hummingbird’s main threats.