July 2012: It is one of the most colourful birds in the world. It can fly vertically and backward and hover for long periods in midair. Its powerful wing muscles make up 30 per cent of its body weight, allowing it to hover. Its unique rotary joint at the shoulder allows it to change direction easily. It is also a champion when it comes to migration.
The Ruby-throated Hummingbird flies more than 805 km. non-stop in 18 to 20 hours and the Rufous Hummingbird covers more than 4,828 km. one way from the Pacific Northwest and Alaska to Mexico.
There are some 340 species of hummingbirds which are only found in the Western Hemisphere in the Americas. The Bee Hummingbird is the smallest at just 5.7 cm. while the Giant Hummingbird is the largest at 21 cm. in length. The fast beating of its wings makes a humming sound and hence its name. Its long and slender beak can reach deep into flowers. It sticks its long tongue into the nectar, forms a little spoon at the tip to hold it and then sticks the tongue back into its mouth, pushing the nectar into the throat. Apart from nectar, it also feeds on tiny insects.
First appeared in: Sanctuary Cub, July 2012