Zombie Hummingbirds: 13 Things You Didn’t Know About These Feathered Friends

1. A praying mantis can eat a hummingbird.

Don’t believe me? Watch this video.

2. Hummingbirds can get beak cavities

If you don’t put the correct ratio of sugar water in their feeders, they can get beak cavities. They can also get fat. (For the record, the correct ratio is 4 parts water, 1 part sugar.)

3. There have been at least 57 reported species of hummingbirds spotted in Costa Rica

This is according to the hummingbird experts at Costa Rica’s La Paz Waterfall Gardens in the Central Valley (that’s 16% of the roughly 340 species worldwide). These little birds are only found in the Western Hemisphere, mostly in tropical climates where they don’t need to migrate – but some species (like the rufous hummingbird) can travel as far as Mexico to Alaska in a season (3,000 miles).


4. Hummingbirds are the smallest birds on the planet, with the biggest brains and hearts in relationship to their bodies.

Their hearts beat 8-20 times per second (500-1,200 times per minute!), and they breathe 250 times per minute at rest.

5. Hummingbirds have no sense of smell, but an excellent sense of sight and direction.

These birds eat twice their body weight in nectar and bugs on a daily basis, drinking from 2,000-5,000 flowers per day to accomplish this. They are attracted to bright colors, especially red, which is why so many feeders are red.

6. Hummingbirds are NOT actually the colors they appear to be.

Like the morpho butterfly, hummingbirds’ color is a trick of the light, an iridescence caused by light refraction on their wings. According to Sibley Guides, “These are structural colors, not pigment, which means they are reflected by microscopic structural features of the feather surface.”


7. Hummingbirds can mate in mid-flight.

Now that’s impressive.

8. Hummingbirds are crucial for the pollination of many flower species, like Heliconias.

9. Hummingbirds can’t walk.

They can only fly or perch with their lightweight, delicate legs. As much as 80% of their lives are spent in a perched state.

10. Hummingbirds live for an average of 5 years.

Most die during the first year of life, but those that don’t average 5 years. Some have been known to live for up to 10 years.

11. Hummingbirds look dead when they sleep (and they often sleep upside-down).

This zombie-like rest is caused by a metabolically efficient state called torpor.

12. For all their cuteness, hummingbirds are surprisingly territorial and violent with each other.

They have also been known to attack much larger birds, such as crows, jays and hawks.

13. Hummingbirds beat their wings 60 times per SECOND.

This rapid-fire wing beating makes a “humming” sound, which is how the birds got their name. They typically fly at speeds between 25 and 45 mph.

BONUS: The funniest hummingbird fact

The most hilarious and nonsensical hummingbird fact online comes from WorldofHummingBirds.com. It reads: “Hummingbirds don’t read books on what they are supposed to do and tend to do what they want.”


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