Hummingbird in flight

Hummingbirds get their name from the humming sound that their wings make. Their wings can beat 50 times or more per second! No wonder you can hear a hum.

Hummingbirds are amazing tiny birds. When full-grown they are between 3 and 4 inches in length. Hummingbirds are amazing in flight. They can hover (hang fluttering in the air), fly backwards, forwards, sideways and even upside down. They can fly at speeds of 30 miles per hour or more and 60 miles per hour when making a dive.

Hummingbirds get the energy they need to fly fast and beat their wings often by eating lots of food. They eat insects, like mosquitoes and fruit flies, and nectar (sugary liquid) from flowers. Their long beaks enable them to reach the nectar that is deep inside flowers.

The feathers of a hummingbird are iridescent. As the light changes, so do their colors. The male is usually more colorful than the female.
Hummingbirds live only in the Western Hemisphere, mostly in South America. Ruby-throated hummingbirds live in the eastern United States. These birds migrate over land to Mexico and Central America to spend the winter. On their return trip, they fly over the Gulf of Mexico. That means 500 miles over water for 18 to 20 hours without stopping. That’s an incredible journey.

Hummingbird taking nectar from a hibiscus flower
Did You Know?
  • Hummingbirds have excellent eyesight but no sense of smell.
  • Hummingbird nests are as wide as a quarter. Their eggs are the size of a pea.
  • Hummingbirds have tiny feet that are so weak they cannot walk.
  • A hummingbird’s heart beats more than 1,000 times each minute.