Hummingbirds

Hummingbirds are attracted to many of the same plants that attract butterflies. These diminutive acrobats of the bird world are truly a wonder to behold. They go from hovering motionless to gone in an instant.

Other than insects, these creatures have the highest metabolic rate of all animals. Due to the rapid beating of their wings, their heart rate can reach over 1,200 beats per minute. Consuming more than their own weight in nectar each day, they must visit hundreds of flowers daily.

The Bee hummingbird, native to Cuba, is considered to be the smallest living bird with a length of 2 inches (5 cm) and weighing in at 0.063 ounces (1.8 grams)!



Species common to the Midwest include the Ruby-throated and the Rufous species. The male Ruby-throated species, true to it's name, has a ruby red throat, emerald green back and is about 3 ½ (8.9 cm) inches long while the female is mostly white with an emerald green back and is slightly larger with a longer bill. The Rufous species is about the same size or slightly smaller that the Ruby Throated variety. The name Rufous is actually the name for the color of the bird's plumage a reddish orange or rust color. It is one of the most common hummingbirds in North America.

In order to have the energy to support their high metabolic rate, these birds drink nectar from flowers. Similar to honey bees, they can detect the amount of sugar in the nectar they eat and they stay away from flowers that have nectar with sugar content of less than 10%.

They also adapt well to taking hummingbird food from feeders. These feeders allow people to view them close up while at the same time providing the birds with a reliable source of energy. Sugar syrup made from granulated white sugar has been proven to be a safe food for use in the feeders. Mixing 1 cup sugar to 4 cups water is recommended. Boiling and then cooling this mixture before use will help prevent the growth of bacteria in the syrup.

Visit our friends at the Hummingbird Guide for more information on these amazing creatures.

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