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A Trusted Friend in a Complicated World

19 Jaw-Dropping Facts About Hummingbirds

These fascinating facts and photos are bound to make you adore them even more!

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HummingbirdCourtesy Gary Robinette/Birds Blooms

They return to where they hatch

If you think the same hummingbirds come to your feeders and flowers every year, you might be right! Banding research shows they are likely to return to the area where they hatched.

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hummingbirdCourtesy Elisa Taylor Godwin/Birds & Blooms

They can’t walk

Hummingbirds’ dainty feet are used for perching only; hummingbirds don’t walk or hop. By air or sea, animal facts are amazing–check out these facts about manatees. 

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hummingbirdCourtesy Jim Cook/Birds & Blooms

They can turn on a dime

Their sturdy tail feathers are used like rudders to make hairpin turns. You don’t want to miss these hilarious bird photos. Who knew they could be so funny?

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hummingbirdCourtesy Donna Donohue/Birds & Blooms

They can see in color

Their large eyes pick up as many colors as human eyes do, plus ultraviolet light. Red is a favorite color because their eyes can see it vividly. But they also easily notice orange and yellow hues, too.

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hummingbirdCourtesy Julia Phillips/Birds & Blooms

They sometimes eat tree sap

Hummingbirds, especially males, sometimes arrive in their northern nesting grounds before flowers have started to bloom. Where can they find the sweet treats they need for energy? Tree sap! Hummingbirds are known to follow sapsuckers around and drink sap from the holes they drill in trees like maple, birch, and hickory. Plant some of these trees in your own yard to attract hummingbirds that arrive in early spring.

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hummingbird feederCourtesy Diana White/Birds & Blooms

They like to rest and ride on swings

The tiny birds spend as much as 80 percent of their waking hours at rest. You can buy or build special hummingbird swings for them to enjoy. Also, hang some perches near sugar-water feeders.

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hummingbirdCourtesy Kathy Schlosser/Birds & Blooms

They shouldn’t eat organic sugar

Pure white table sugar is the safest option for mixing nectar for hummingbirds. Many consider organic sugar, which doesn’t tend to be fully refined to pure sucrose, unsafe for feeding birds. You should steer clear of brown sugar, powdered sugar, sugar substitutes, honey, red dye or any other ingredient but plain white sugar.

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HummingbirdCourtesy Carl Leichtenberger/Birds Blooms

Its tongue is a useful tool

A hummingbird uses its tongue, which functions as a tiny pump, to suck the sought-after sweet liquid from feeders and flowers. These are the most majestic birds found in nature.

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HummingbirdCourtesy Robert Howson/Birds Blooms

They migrate far

Rufous hummingbirds migrate farther than any other North American species. They travel 4,000 miles from Mexico to Alaska every spring.

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HummingbirdCourtesy Desiree D. Skatvold/Birds Blooms

They have very small nests

The average nest is about the size of a half-dollar coin. The eggs inside the tiny structure look like mini white jelly beans.

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HummingbirdCourtesy Rod Marr/Birds Blooms

They are territorial

Hummingbirds can be very territorial and will try to protect their food sources: both flowers and feeders. They spend a lot of time chasing other birds away.

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HummingbirdCourtesy Kristi Wenger Stoltzfus/Birds Blooms

Their breaths per minute are very high

While resting, the average 4-inch hummingbird takes about 150 breaths per minute. These hilarious bird puns will quack you up.

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HummingbirdCourtesy Judy Evans/Birds Blooms

They are the only birds that can fly backward

They can hover in midair at flowers and feeders, and they’re the only birds that can fly backward. Their wings move in a figure-eight pattern, which allows them to maneuver with ease.

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HummingbirdCourtesy Deb Forster/Birds Blooms

They sing

Some species, specifically male anna’s and costa’s, are regular singers. With other species, the most common sounds are aggressive calls, which resemble chattering or squealing. You’ll hear them when several hummingbirds are gathered near a food source.

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HummingbirdCourtesy Jeanette Brooks Milano/Birds Blooms

Their wings beat extremely fast

Known for erratic movements, these agile birds beat their wings more than 50 times per second, and even faster in extreme flight mode.

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HummingbirdCourtesy Lonna Ours/Birds Blooms

They travel alone

Hummingbirds are solitary migrants, so you won’t see them traveling in flocks. Wintering grounds vary by species, but most ruby-throats spend the cold months between southern Mexico and northern Panama.

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HummingbirdCourtesy Tammi Elbert/Birds Blooms

They eat other things besides flowers

You typically see hummingbirds at nectar blooms and sugar-water feeders, but they also eat tree sap and small insects when flowers are hard to find in the wild.

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HummingbirdCourtesy Lisa J. Swanson/Birds Blooms

They love mist

A birdbath with a small mister, bubbler, or sprayer attracts hummingbirds. It’s a rare sight, but they might fly through the mist of a lawn sprinklers, too!

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HummingbirdCourtesy Jennifer Plunkett/Birds Blooms

It takes less than a week to build a nest

It takes less than a week (about five to seven days) for a hummingbird to build its nest. Built by females only, nests are made of lichen, moss, and spiderwebs. Now that you’re an expert on hummingbirds, check out these animal “facts” that you have all wrong.

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Originally Published on Birds & Blooms