Hummingbirds are the world’s second-largest family of birds. There are over 300 species of hummingbirds. 51 of these species are considered endangered or threatened.
Most hummers are found in Central America, South America, and the Caribbean. Only a handful of species are regularly seen in North America and they are migratory birds.
Hummers are unique and distinct. These tiny and distinct birds are the most coveted backyard birds. Most hummers are colorful. Their colors change with every reflection of light. Only a small portion of the hummingbird’s colors is visible to the human eye. Hummers produce a distinct humming sound.
Hummingbirds are acrobatic flyers. They can fly backward, upside down, and can change direction almost instantly. They have the highest in-flight metabolism of any bird species.
1. The Rufous Hummingbird- Has the Longest Migration Route of all Birds
The Rufous hummingbird is a tiny flying jewel with extraordinary flight skills. It flies 2000 mi during its migratory transit making it the bird with the longest migration route.
• The Rufous hummingbird has an amazing memory. It can locate a feeder that it saw the previous year.
• With sufficient shelter and food, this bird can survive in sub-zero temperatures.
2. The Giant Hummingbird- The Largest Member of the Hummingbird Family
It weighs 18-24 g and has a wingspan of 8.5 inches. It has the same length as a northern cardinal or a European starling. Its weight is twice that of the next heaviest species of hummingbirds. Despite its weight, it has a considerably lighter body because of having a long bill and a slender build. The body is a smaller portion of the total length.
• Giant hummingbirds have an eye-ring, a straight bill, very long wings, sturdy feet, and dull coloration. They occasionally glide in flight, a behavior that is uncommon among hummingbirds.
• They are widely distributed on the east and west sides of the Andes. They are fairly resilient to urbanization. They have a global population of 10,000 adults.
• The giant hummingbird has significant cultural value in some parts of the Andes. Some aboriginal inhabitants of Chiloe Island believe a woman will gain great fertility if she captures the giant hummingbird.
3. The Bee Hummingbird- The World’s Smallest Bird
This is the smallest living bird. It is scarcely larger than a bee. Females are slighter larger than males. They are 2.4 inches long and weigh 2.6 g. The bee hummingbird is a strong and swift flier. It appears plump and rounded compared to other small hummingbirds which are usually slender.
• This tiny jewel has brilliant, iridescent colors. It feeds mainly on nectar and insects. It plays an important role in plant pollination. In one day, it can pollinate 1500 flowers.
4. The Blue-bearded Helmetcrest- The World’s Rarest Hummingbird
This is an endangered species of hummingbirds suffering from a very rapid and on-going population decline. It is threatened by severe habitat loss. This hummingbird species is restricted to a small area of Western Ecuador. Less than five percent of its original rainforest habitat remains because of agriculture, cattle grazing, development, and logging.
5. The Sword-Billed Hummingbird- The Only Bird to Have a Beak Longer than the Rest of Its Body
This is the only member of the hummingbird family that is characterized by its unusually longer beak. Its tongue is also unusually long. These adaptations help the bird to feed on flowers with long corollas.
• The sword-billed hummingbird is one of the largest hummingbird species. It is found throughout the cloud forests of Venezuela, Peru, Ecuador, Columbia, and Bolivia. It prefers tropical cloud forest habitat due to the concentration of nectar-producing flowers in this habitat.
• This species has a wide geographic range of over 60,000 square km. However, it is difficult to research this species because of its uneven distribution.
• Deforestation and climate change are possible threats facing this species. It is frequently photographed by nature photographers because of its colorful and unique appearance.
6. The Ruby-Throated Hummingbird- The Most Common Hummingbird in America
The ruby-throated hummingbird is among the most common species of hummingbirds in the United States. It occurs in nearly all US states. The ruby-throated hummingbird shares many physical features with the Rufous hummingbird. These two birds can easily be confused. Both of them are common in North America.
• Ruby-throated hummingbirds have adapted well to modernity. They easily take advantage of man-made gardens for nesting, shelter, and feeding.
• This species of hummingbirds occupies the largest breeding range of any North-American hummingbird. They breed in southern Canada and south to central and eastern USA.
• Ruby-throated hummingbirds are common in gardens. These birds are fearless. They usually chase rodents and other birds from their favorite flowers. Males have a glossy orange-red throat. Females have whitish speckled throats.
7. The Anna’s Hummingbird- Consumes More Insects than any North American Hummingbird
The Anna’s hummingbird is the most common hummingbird along the Pacific Coast of the United States. Its heart beats at 1260 beats per minute. Anna’s hummingbirds have greatly expanded their breeding range because of increased planting of flowering and ornamental plants in buildings in California.
8. The Fiery Throated Hummingbird- One of the Most Spectacular Species of Hummingbirds
Very few birds rival the spectacular iridescence of this bird. For bird lovers, this bird alone warrants a trip to Costa Rica.
• It has a blue tail, a shiny green body plumage, and a white spot behind the eye. It changes colors with light. When the light catches it at the right angle, it displays a brilliant blue crown.
• They feed on nectar and help with plant pollination. Insects are an important source of proteins. Males defend scrubs and flowers in their territories. Females are responsible for nest building and incubation. A female Fiery-throated hummingbird lays two eggs. Incubation takes 15-19 days.
Hummingbirds play an important role in the world’s ecological system. They are amazingly adapted pollinators. They have long and slender bills that are adapted for pollination. Over 75% of the world’s flowers depend on birds like hummingbirds for pollination. Without hummingbirds, some flower species would become extinct.