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Farmers Almanac
The 2014 Farmers Almanac
Farmers' Almanac

Amazing Hummingbird Facts

Amazing Hummingbird Facts

Hummingbirds are one of the most unusual birds in the world. While they are known for their ability to hover in mid-air by rapidly flapping their wings, they are also the only known group of birds able to fly backwards.

Hummingbirds may also fly vertically or horizontally, and are capable of hovering while drinking nectar or eating tiny arthopods from flower blossoms.

Here are some facts about these wonderful creatures:

  • Hummingbirds are tiny — and weigh between 2 to 20 grams.
  • Hummingbirds feed on nectar and insects, as well as tiny spiders.
  • Hummingbirds have very tiny feet that are not well suited for walking but well designed for perching.
  • Hummingbirds rotate their entire wing, with little or no flexing of the wrist or hand joints. And, because of this unique but inefficient means of flight, they must eat a lot of food each day, with nectar often amounting to 100-200% of their body weight. Insects provide protein for their diet.
  • While some scientists don’t agree, the exact number of species is perhaps 329, making them the second largest family of birds after flycatchers.
  • When still, the hummingbird’s heart beats 500 times a minute and doubles when excited.
  • In order to hover, the hummingbird has to beat its wings 60 times per second. When perched, the Hummingbird does not push off with its feet like other birds but will begin by beating its wings.
  • A Hummingbird has to visit at least 1,500 flowers a day in search of nectar because of this great expenditure of energy just to stay warm and maintain its heart rate. A flower’s nectar is high in sucrose, which is a sugar that is easily digested. It is also a form of quick energy.
  • You can feed hummingbirds with sugar-water.

Feeding tips:
To make your own Hummingbird feeder, special feeding bottles can be purchased or a simple red dish or red-wrapped bottle can be used. Fill these with sugar water. To make sugar water, combine one part sugar with four parts water and heat until sugar dissolves. Store in the refrigerator. Never use honey, as it will ferment, creating a fungus on the hummingbird’s tongue. Artificial sweeteners have no food value and, therefore, will not provide the birds with any energy. This will lead to slow starvation.

To attract hummingbirds to your garden:
Make sure that you choose flowers that can produce nectar, grow well in your area and are brightly colored. Many flowers known to attract hummingbirds have blossoms that are red to orange in color. Some flower suggestions include:

Azalea
Bee Balm
Begonia
Bleeding Heart
Bottlebrush
Buttercup
Columbine
Cypress Vine
Dahlia
Daylily
Delphinium
Four O’clock
Fuchsia
Geranium
Gladiola
Hibiscus
Honeysuckle
Jasmine
Mexican Sage
Morning Glory
Phlox
Pineapple Sage
Scarlet Sage
Snapdragon
Sweet William

Have any tips to attract Hummingbirds? Add them to our Home and Garden forum.

For more information about hummingbirds, visit The Hummingbird Society.

If you notice a hole in the upper left-hand corner of your Farmers' Almanac, don't return it to the store! That hole isn't a defect; it's a part of history. Starting with the first edition of the Farmers' Almanac in 1818, readers used to nail holes into the corners to hang it up in their homes, barns, and outhouses (to provide both reading material and toilet paper). In 1910, the Almanac's publishers began pre-drilling holes in the corners to make it even easier for readers to keep all of that invaluable information (and paper) handy.