13 Jaw-Dropping Facts About Hummingbirds

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

Gary Robinette (B&B reader)

Ruby-throated hummingbird

1. 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.

Carl Leichtenberger (B&B reader)

Ruby-throated hummingbird

2. A hummingbird uses its tongue, which functions as a tiny pump, to suck the sought-after sweet liquid from feeders and flowers.

Robert Howson (B&B reader)

Rufous hummingbird

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

Desiree D. Skatvold (B&B reader)

Anna’s hummingbird

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

Rod Marr (B&B reader)

Rufous hummingbirds

5. 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.

Kristi Wenger Stoltzfus (B&B reader)

Female ruby-throated hummingbird on tiger lilies

6. While resting, the average 4-inch hummingbird takes about 150 breaths per minute.

Judy Evans (B&B reader)

7. 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.

Deb Forster (B&B reader)

Ruby-throated hummingbird

8. 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.

Jeanette Brooks-Milano

Rufous hummingbird

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

Lonna Ours (B&B reader)

Ruby-throated hummingbird

10. 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.

Tammi Elbert (B&B reader)

Ruby-throated hummingbird

11. 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.

Lisa J. Swanson (B&B reader)

Costa’s hummingbird

12. 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!

Jennifer Plunkett (B&B reader)

Broad-tailed hummingbird

13. 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.

Kirsten
Kirsten is the executive editor of Birds & Blooms. She's been with the brand in various roles since 2007. She has many favorite birds (it changes with the seasons), but top picks include the red-headed woodpecker, Baltimore oriole and rose-breasted grosbeak. Her bucket list bird is the painted bunting.