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Although hummingbirds include some of the smallest bird in the world, they belong to one of the largest families of birds. Hummingbird are native to tropical rain forests but can be found in deserts, mountains, and plains. Their range is North America, Central America, and South America. Their name refers to the humming sound from their beating wings. There are more than 300 kinds of hummingbirds. The smallest of these is the bee hummingbird. It weighs approximately 1.8 grams and is about 5 centimeters in length. The giant hummingbird is the largest hummingbird. It weighs 18-20 grams and measures eight and a half inches in length.

A hummingbird with flowers


Hummingbirds are called "nectivores" because about 90 percent of their diet is nectar from flowers. hummingbirds slender bills which are perfect for collecting nectar from flowers. The bills allow each kind of hummingbird to feed from specific types of flowers. They also protect their long split tongues. Although their main diet is nectar, they sometimes eat insect which are often caught by "hawking". Hawking is when a hummingbird catches insects by flying and diving to snap them up out of the air. Hummingbirds consume between 3.14 and 7.6 calories a day. Humans (who may eat somewhere around 3,500 calories a day) would have to consume approximately 155,000 calories a day if they had the metabolism of a hummingbird. This is about 77 times the amount which humans usually eat. Because of their heart rate and small body size, hummingbirds need a lot of calories. Hummingbirds must digest their food quickly because they eat so much. A hummingbird can digest a fruit fly in 10 minutes. Some flowers rely on hummingbirds for pollination. Hummingbirds are attracted to flowers that are bright colors and are open during the day.

Hummingbird nest with two chicks.


Every spring the hummingbird migrate north to make a home for their young. The mother hummingbird find a spot where temperatures will stay below 96 degrees F to make her nest. The first thing the hummingbird lays down is spider webbing. After she applies the material to her nest site, she then carries soft material to the site in her beak. When the material is arranged the way she likes it, she carries another load of spider webbing to the nest. She repeats this process a few more time and then applies a soft layer of down to the inside of the nest. The hummingbird lays her eggs, which are the size of a coffer bean, inside the nest. When hummingbirds hatch, they are blind, have only a little down, and have small bumps for bills. These chicks are very vulnerable and sometimes their predators are large insects.

See also