Olympic Champions of the Aviary World

The 2008 Summer Olympics are officially underway in China.This a time when the athletes of the world come together to compete against one another for the glory of their individual countries as well as the fulfillment of the athlete’s personal dream as well as years of personal training. Although not every athlete who competes in the Olympic Games will bring home a medal, in my book, they are all winners because they are part of such a select group of individuals that were choose to represent their country on the ultimate sports stage, the Olympic Games.Congratulations one an all on your remarkable achievement! Your countrymen and the world are proud of you and we will be watching and cheering as you put forth your best efforts.

Now, you may be wondering, what does the Olympic Games have to do with hummingbirds? Well, let me explain. These birds are so extremely tiny in size, they go at such amazing speeds and more that this has made me declare them the gold medal winners within the aviary world. This is just my own personal opinion, but I believe that you will agree with me by the time you finish reading this post.

Let’s look at the size of the hummingbird.The smallest hummingbird is the Bee Hummingbird which is found in Cuba. It is only 2 1/4 inches long and weighs just under 2 grams. The largest hummingbird is the Giant Hummingbird, which weighs between 21 and 23 grams. So much for be the giant of the species! How do birds that size accomplish all that they do?

Let’s look at the sheer speed of the hummingbird. While at rest, a hummingbird takes 250 breaths per minute. The heart rate of a hummingbird is 1,260 times per minute.Hummingbirds travel at an average speed of 25-30 miles per hour.

The fight of the hummingbird is totally unique within the aviary world. When in flight, the hummingbird’s wings will beat 22-78 times per second. They can fly forward, backward, and upside down. They fly backwards by spreading their tail and then doing a backwards somersault. Also, the pectoral or flight muscles of a hummingbird accounts for 1/4 of its total body weight. In humans, the pectoral muscles account for 5 percent of our total body weight.

The hummingbird is the only bird with the ability to fly forwards, backwards, up, down, sideways, or sit in sheer space.This is because the hummingbird has the ability to rotate its wings in a full circle. Whenever hovering, the hummingbird will move their wings forward and backwards in a repeated figure eight. Hummingbirds even have the ability to fly short distances upside down. This is known as a trick rollover and hummingbirds will use this maneuver whenever they are being attacked by another bird.

The metabolism of the hummingbird and its need for food also make it quite unique within the aviary world as well. If the average man’s metabolism was comparable to that of a hummingbird, he would have to eat 285 pounds of hamburger every day in order to maintain his weight. Hummingbirds eat 5 to 8 times in an hour. Each time the hummingbird feeds only last about 30 to 60 seconds in length. The average hummingbird will consume half its weight in sugar each day. An active hummingbird can starve to death in as little as two hours.

It is for all these reasons that I have declared the remarkable hummingbird to be the Olympic champion of the aviary world. The title seems well earned and I do not ever see any other species of bird dethroning the hummingbird of this title.


Hummingbirds Are Not Pets

Many people are avid animal lovers and absolutely dote on their animals. Many times people consider there pet a member of the family and they pamper their animals. This is probably due to the unconditional love and devotion that our animals show us, but it is important to remember that not all animals make good pets. This is certainly true of the hummingbird. While this is one of nature’s most amazing creatures, it is important to remember that these birds have never been intended to be kept in captivity as our pet. So, enjoy the beauty of nature and the pastime of bird watching, but please don’t ever try to make a hummingbird your pet.
It is important to remember that wild animals do not make good pets. Hummingbirds have a specialized diet hat is extremely difficult to duplicate. The diet of the hummingbird consists of plant nectar, plant pollen and insects. Just how vital is nectar to a hummingbird? Extremely vital. 90 percent of the hummingbird’s diet is nectar. Yes, your hummingbird feeders can provide an alternate source of nectar, but this is not enough. Let me explain. Hummingbirds visit 1000 flowers per day and in so doing serve as pollinators for these followers. Without the hummingbirds, these flowers would not reproduce and the world would be a far less colorful and beautiful place. Due to their specialized dietary requirements, the hummingbird would be hard to feed properly, and they might get sick and die because of this. 
They prefer to live in a large territory where they can use their specialized flying skills to find food and mates. This is something which it would be impossible for the pet owner to provide a hummingbird. Hummingbirds are also territorial and very aggressive, bold little birds, and it is highly unlikely if not impossible that the hummingbird could be the affectionate and loving companions that people want their pets to be.
Enjoy the beauty and splendor of these tiny flying jewels of nature, but please never try to capture one with the intent of trying to make it your pet. There are too many other animals which make great pets, so if you are looking for a pet that will provide love, companionship, devotion and more choose one of them. 

The Lucifer Hummingbird

The name Lucifer means “light bearer.Lucifer is also the name of the archangel who fell from heaven.

The bill of this hummingbird is quite distinctive among other species of hummingbirds, because of the fact that its bill is so long and it curves down sharply at the tip. The distinctive bill is believed to be an natural adaptation which helps bird collect insects from flowers.

A study of one territorial male showed how the bird spent an hour of time.The vast majority of his time, 41 minutes, was spent perched. The bird only spent 4 minutes feeding. Each feeding was very brief, lasting only 12 seconds in length. I found this quite amazing, because most hummingbirds will usually visit between 1000-2000 flowers per day.The final 15 minutes of the hour was spent by the male chasing away intruders.

The Lucifer hummingbird lives in open desert areas where its favorite plant is the agave. Whenever this plant is in bloom, it is an abundant source of nectar as well as insects. During the mating season, the male Lucifer will often make its territory among two or three agave plants. The female Lucifer will often make her nest on this plant as well.

In the U.S., the breeding season for this species of hummingbird is May to August. Their breeding range is very small, southeastern Arizona and western Texas.Their non-breeding range is central Mexico. These birds migrate northward in April and May and southward in September.


Do Hummingbirds Sleep?

It never ceases to amaze me the shear fascination people have with hummingbirds.I am no different then anyone else in this regard. Since I have been researching and writing about hummingbirds, my friends have asked me some very interesting questions about hummingbirds. This blog post is the result of one such question. My friend wanted to know if hummingbirds sleep.

Yes, hummingbirds do sleep. They do so at night by entering into a state known as torpor, which is a state similar to hibernation. Hummingbirds must enter this state to ensure that the birds won’t actually starve to death before down. Torpor is a type of deep sleep where an animal lowers its hart and metabolic rate. In a state of torpor the hummingbird lowers its metabolic rate by as much as 95%. A torpid hummingbird consumes up to 50 times less energy than when awake. The lowered metabolic rate also causes a cooled body temperature. A hummingbird’s night time body temperature is maintained at a level which is barely sufficient to maintain life. This level is known as their set point and it is far below the normal daytime body temperature of 104 degrees F or 40 degrees C known for other birds of similar size.

There are many reasons why the hummingbird must enter into a state of torpor. Hummingbirds are among the smallest of all warm-blooded animals, and they also lack the insulating downy feathers that are typical for many other bird species. Due to their small body size and lack of insulation, hummingbirds rapidly lose body heat to their surroundings. Even sleeping hummingbirds have huge metabolic demands that must be met in order for them to simply survive the night when they cannot forage. By entering into a state of torpor, a hummingbird is able to save enough energy to survive cold nights by lowering their internal thermostat.

There are several types of torpor. The various types of torpor are classified mostly by duration and season. If the state of torpor takes place over a long period of time during the winter, it is known as hibernation. However, unlike hibernation, hummingbird torpor can occur on any night of the year so it is referred to as daily torpor or noctivation.

Hummingbirds are not the only birds known to enter into a state of torpor. Other birds that are known to enter into a state of torpor include swallows and swifts. Scientists think that most small birds living in cold regions, such as chickadees, rely on torpor to survive long cold nights. Rodents, bats and other small mammals typically show some form of regulated hypothermia during cold weather, and these animals can only rely upon daily torpor during the winter months when they are not breeding. For hummingbirds, noctivation is possible on any night of the year.

The ability of the hummingbird to sleep by entering into the state of torpor literally saves the birds life. The ability to enter into a state of torpor will literally prevent it from starving to death before dawn. Isn’t it amazing how nature provides each species of animal the ability to help insure its own survival?