13 Jaw-Dropping Facts About Hummingbirds
Discover fascinating facts about hummingbirds, like what materials they use build their nests, where they migrate and how fast they fly.
Courtesy Alicia Casey
1. Hummingbirds Return to Feeders
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. Check out 13 questions about hummingbird feeders answered by experts.
Courtesy Nancy MacDonald Uggla
2. Hummingbirds Drink Nectar and Sugar Water
A hummingbird uses its tongue, which functions as a tiny pump, to suck the sought-after sweet liquid from feeders and flowers. Learn how to make hummingbird sugar water.
Courtesy Deborah Whiting
3. Hummingbirds Are Long Distance Migrants
Rufous hummingbirds migrate farther than any other North American species. They travel 4,000 miles from Mexico to Alaska every spring. Most ruby-throats spend the cold months between southern Mexico and northern Panama. Learn more about where hummingbirds migrate in winter.
Courtesy Nancy Marshall
4. Hummingbird Nests Are Tiny
The average nest is about the size of a half-dollar coin. The eggs inside the tiny structure look like mini white jelly beans. Here’s everything you need to know about hummingbird nests.
Courtesy Stacy Campa
5. Hummingbirds Are Territorial Birds
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. Learn more about hummingbird behavior.
Courtesy Melissa Brewer
6. Hummingbirds Take Quick Breaths
While resting, the average 4-inch hummingbird takes about 150 breaths per minute. Next, learn where hummingbirds sleep at night.
Courtesy Sal Ahmed
7. Hummingbirds Can Hover and 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. Discover the truth about common hummingbird myths.
Courtesy Elsie Jones
8. Some Hummingbirds 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. Learn more about the many sounds of hummingbirds.
Courtesy Cynthia Bibb
9. Hummingbirds Are Fast Fliers
Known for erratic and agile movements, hummingbirds beat their wings more than 50 times per second, and even faster in extreme flight mode. Psst—this is how long hummingbirds live.
10. Hummingbirds Migrate Alone
Hummingbirds are solitary migrants, so you won’t see them traveling in flocks. Wintering grounds vary by species. This is why you should keep feeders up for late migrating fall hummingbirds.
Courtesy Jasmin Robinson
11. Hummingbirds Eat More Than Sugar Water
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. Learn more about the foods hummingbirds eat.
Courtesy Desiree Skatvold
12. Hummingbirds Love Bird Baths
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! Learn how to attract birds to use a birdbath.
Courtesy Sally Harris
13. Hummingbirds Build Nests With Spiderwebs
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. Check out 10 adorable pictures of baby hummingbirds.