5 THINGS YOU MIGHT BE SURPRISED TO KNOW ABOUT HUMMINGBIRDS
(They fascinate us, too.)
Do you remember the first time you saw a hummingbird up close? Their hovercraft maneuvers are fast and breathtaking. I remember seeing multiples gliding up to a restaurant’s long front porch lined with feeders, and I was hooked.
It’s probably not a surprise that hummingbirds (named for the signature hum of their wings) make people smile. Anything in miniature is always adorable, their wings move so fast it’s tough to see them in motion, and they’re mysteriously elusive, which makes a sighting a sweet treat.
But since our first encounters, we’ve learned a few things that might surprise you.
1) THERE ARE OVER 330 SPECIES OF HUMMINGBIRDS
Three of these 330 are most common in our area, and the males are easiest to recognize in each species, with distinctive colors and markings.
Ruby-throated: You’ll know the male Ruby-throated hummingbird when you see his ruby-red throat, white collar and emerald green back. The female also has a green back, with tail feathers that are banded in white, black and a grayish green.
Rufous: Once again the males steal the show with glossy orange-red throats. Females have rufous (i.e. reddish-brown) and white-tipped tail feathers, whitish speckled throats and green backs and crowns.
Calliope: The smallest breeding bird in North America, males have green crowns, a red and black collar and bright white belly. Females are predictably plainer, flushed in nutmeg brown with occasional green flecks in their wings and tail feathers.
2) THE AVERAGE WEIGHT OF A HUMMINGBIRD IS LESS THAN A NICKEL.
So weighing in at just 5 grams, hummingbirds only require nests about the size of a half dollar, making them tougher to spot at a glance.
3) THEY ARE THE ONLY BIRDS THAT CAN FLY BACKWARDS.
Not only can they reverse gear, our New Hampshire hummingbirds beat their wings an average of 53 beats per second in flight and can fly up to 20 to 30 mph.
4) HUMMINGBIRDS HAVE NO SENSE OF SMELL.
So, they’re not sniffing out flowers and feeders, but they are attracted to their color. Which is why we recommend planting tubular annuals and perennials in bright colors.
Favorite Annuals: Petunias, Salvia and Fuschia
Favorite Perennials: Penstemon, Trumpet Vine, Salvia and Daylilies
5) HUMMINGBIRDS HAVE A SWEET TOOTH.
That’s probably not a surprise, but it may be a surprise you to know that nectar from native plants and in concentrate or ready-to-use form for feeders actually provide hummingbirds the best nutrition.
Give your hummingbirds a regularly cleaned feeder and fresh sugar water or nectar and they will come!
Have questions or want to know more about how to be a hummingbird magnet? Please stop in or give us a call at (603) 472-8880.