HUMMINGBIRD MIGRATION
ALL ABOUT HUMMINGBIRDS
FUN FACTS
 
A hummingbird's wings beat between 30 and 200 flaps per second.
 
An average hummingbird's heart beats more than 1,200 beats per minute.
 
Hummingbirds take an average of 250 breaths per minute, even while at rest.
 
They have no sense of smell but have very keen eyesight.
 
Hummingbirds lay the smallest eggs of all birds, measuring less than 1/2 inch.
ANATOMY Hummingbirds are the world's smallest species of birds. An average hummingbird is no more than three inches tall and weighs less than a nickel! However, they have several distinct features that will help you to identify which birds are living in your area.
Hummingbird Anatomy
SPECIES There are more than 336 hummingbird species in the world. The majority of species are found in Central and South America. However, eight species regularly breed in the United States and up to two dozen species visit the country. Below are some of the most common species found in the United States.
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ANNA'S Stout body with a short, straight bill Iridescent pink crown and throat Stout body with a short, straight bill
 
ALLEN'S Tiny, compact hummingbird Scarlet throat Bronze or green crown and back Reddish-tan on sides of face and flanks
 
RUBY
THROATED
Long, thin bill Iridescent bright red throat White upper chest Greenish grey sides and back
 
RUFOUS Red and gold iridescent throat Green forehead Reddish-tan face and flanks Bright orange back and belly
 
COSTA'S Bright purple throat and sides of face Green sides and back White and grey chest and belly
 
BLACK-
CHINNED
Small, slender hummingbird Fairly straight bill Black throat Metallic green flanks
 
CALLIOPE Tiny hummingbird Green upperparts Rosy red and white streaked throat
MIGRATION
 
A hummingbird's maximum forward flight speed is 30 miles per hour, though the birds can reach up to 60 miles per hour in a dive.
 
The map shows the (southern) winter and (northern) summer migration patterns of Allen's, Ruby-throated, Rufous, Costa's, Black-chinned, and Calliope hummingbirds.
 
Hummingbirds lead non-communal lives and neither live nor migrate in flocks.
 
The Rufous hummingbird has the longest migration of any hummingbird species, flying more than 3,000 miles from Alaska to Mexico.
DIET
 
Hummingbirds get the energy they need to maintain their metabolism primarily from flower nectar and hummingbird feeders
 
For protein and other nutrients, they also eat soft-bodied insects and spiders. Think of them as miniature flycatchers!
 
When nectar is scarce, hummingbirds will also feed on tree sap. While it is not as sugary as nectar, it provides enough nourishment to keep them going!
 
Hummingbirds get most of their water from nectar and do not usually drink from other sources. However, they often use water sources for preening and bathing.
ATTRACTION While simply hanging a hummingbird feeder can be enough to catch their attention, you can do more to invite them into your yard! Hummingbirds, like most other animals, require 3 main elements for their habitat: food, water, and shelter. Look below to see what things you can do to make your backyard a happy hummingbird habitat.
attracting hummingbirds
FLOWERS Hummingbirds feed frequently on nectar-rich flowers, and planting native flowers to attract them is an easy way to make any yard a perfect hummingbird habitat. While the color red is very attractive to hummingbirds, the most important factor is that the flowers must produce plenty of nectar. Choose tubular flowers, like the varieties listed below, to invite hummingbirds into your garden.
hummingbird-friendly flowers
feeders
TYPES OF FEEDERS
 
There are many types of hummingbird feeders to suit any hummingbird habitat
 
Depending on the sugar concentration, a single hummingbird can consume anywhere from 5 to 14 times its body weight in nectar per day!
 
Hummingbirds can feed 10-15 times per hour, drinking about 1/100th of an ounce each time.
 
Fill your feeder with a sugar water solution with a ratio of 4 cups of water to 1 cup of sugar. Do not add red food coloring or honey to the water; flower nectar is naturally clear.
SHOP FOR FEEDERS
THREATS
 
HABITAT LOSS Urbanization, agriculture, deforestation, and development in tropical areas threatens the survival of dozens of hummingbird species. Because these birds are so small and territorially sensitive, even minor development can have a tragic impact on rare species of hummingbirds. You can help by making a hummer habitat in your own backyard!
 
PESTICIDES Not only do pesticides and insecticides eliminate the insects that are an essential food source for hummingbirds, but the concentration of chemicals in the environment can severely impact these tiny birds. Avoid using pesticides near your feeders or plants that attract hummingbirds.
 
CATS Outdoor pets are a major threat to hummingbirds. Because hummingbirds feed repeatedly at the same food sources, a cat can lie in ambush; one swipe of a paw can kill a hummingbird. Keep cats inside and avoid placing feeders within their reach.
 
WINDOW COLLISIONS Because many hummingbird feeders are placed near windows to provide good views of the feeding birds, window collisions are common and often deadly. Be sure to place your feeder at least 10 feet from windows, and use paint to break up the reflections on clean windows!
 
BAD FEEDERS Dirty hummingbird feeders can harbor toxic mold that kills hummingbirds, and feeders that leak excessively can attract bees and wasps that will attack hummingbirds. Be sure to clean your feeder every 2-3 days, or more often if placed in direct sunlight or in especially hot weather.
illustration of a cat chasing a hummingbird
HOW YOU CAN HELP THE HUMMINGBIRDS Here are many things you can do to help hummingbirds with their migration, habitat and health. Now tha tyou understand how hummingbirds are threatened and have some ideas on how you can address the threats, there is still a bit more you can do to help with the conservation of these beautiful flying jewels. BE A MEMBER OF A HUMMINGBIRD ORGANIZATION Hummingbird organizations provide hummingbird-focused education and conservation through workshops, festivals, newsletters and much more. These organizations rely heavily on individual/family memberships and corporate sponsorships to be able to spread the word about hummingbird habitats and hummingbird teachings. For more information on hummingbird organizations, visit www.hummingbirdsociety.org, www.hummonnet.org, and www.abcbirds.org. SUPPORT HUMMINGBIRD EDUCATION It’s important to aid the institutions working diligently to research hummingbird health, diseases, and conservation. Some active projects at the UC Davis Hummingbird Health and Conservation Program include conservation genetics, population health status and diseases and identifying threats to hummingbird populations. For more information on the UC Davis Hummingbird Health and Conservation Program, visit hummingbirds.ucdavis.edu. GET INVOLVED WITH CITIZEN SCIENCE Citizen science is collaboration between scientists and volunteers for the purpose of collecting and analyzing data. In the hummingbird community, citizen science can determine any changes in migratory patterns or identify avian diseases. ProjectFeederWatch is an excellent way to log the bird activity in your backyard and in turn, provide scientists with much needed bird data. For more information on ProjectFeederWatch, visit www.feederwatch.org.