(originally posted in a newsletter Feb 2022)
Hummingbirds are a nod to spring in my area, as I'm in a migration line of these little guys' flight path. In honor of my upcoming new collection, Hover, I got curious about hummingbirds. I thought you might be interested in satisfying your curiosity, too!
Here are ten quirky facts about these beauties.
Those adorable tiny feet that so nicely tuck into their feathers while they fly have evolved to support efficient flying and lightness in weight by being, well, small! They are so small, in fact, they are not designed for hopping or walking! They can, however, walk sideways on a perch or use them for preening or scratching. Does anyone else make a "doot-doot-doo" noise imaging them scooching sideways?
The glorious flashy colors on a hummingbird's throat are not the color pigmentation of the feathers! What, you say? I know, how, right? The colors are actually the arrangement of the feathers that allow the iridescence of the feathers to shine!
Many hummingbird species crossbreed, making proper identification difficult in some cases. Makes me wonder how many color, beak, and body combinations will continue to show up in our experiences, observations, and through art!
Hummingbirds have the least amount of feathers than any bird on the planet! This shows another evolution to support less weight and efficiency for flight.
Hummingbirds lick, they don't suck nectar. Their tongues are fringed and forked to bring nectar into the throat to swallow.
The longest migration path of a hummingbird species is more than 3000 miles from Alaska and Canada to Mexico. The rufous hummingbird flies the farthest of all hummers.
Hummingbirds have an unexpected predator - the praying mantis! They feed on their brains, blood, and organs. So, watch for these guys in the garden if you have feeders or hummingbird attractor plants!
Hummingbirds can symbolize a range of meanings: determination, good fortune, sweetness, persistence, lightness of being, speed, joy, love, peace, hope, and freedom. They can also represent an omen for travelers (bringing them home).
Hummingbirds can live anywhere from 3-12 years in the wild. Of course, this ranges depending on all factors that wildlife encounter: food sources, weather, predators, species, and any and all habitat/environment factors.
Tiny and mighty, hummingbirds are one of the most aggressive of all birds. They will protect and guard their food sources (such as flowers and backyard feeders). They may be small, but they will attack other assertive birds such as crows, jays, and hawks (all of which I have in my area!).
And more about predators, start here.