There are well over 300 different species of hummingbirds. Depending on the source you consult, some experts say that there are between 330 and 340 species of hummingbirds. Regardless of the exact number of species, there are a great number of varieties of hummingbirds. The smallest is the bee hummingbird which is found in Cuba. The largest hummingbird is the giant hummingbird, which only weighs 21 to 23 grams. So much for being a giant! According to hummingbird expert Laura Erickson, you could mail nine or ten hummingbirds with a single stamp! This should help give you some idea just how extremely tiny hummingbirds are.
A hummingbird’s bill also comes in many different sizes and shapes too. The bill of the hummingbird is long and slender to make it easier for the hummingbird to collect nectar from flowers. The bill also provides protection for the hummingbird’s tongue which allows each type of hummingbird to feed from the specific flowers that are designed to fit them best. Nectar is the primary food source of the hummingbird, and about 90 percent of their diet consists of nectar from flowers. The hummingbird’s diet is also aided by their eating insects. The insects are captured through a technique known as “hawking”, which is when the hummingbird catches the insects by flying and diving to capture the insect out of the air.
The tongue of the hummingbird is quite unique. It is shaped like a “W” and it helps the birds absorb the nectar that they are ingesting. The tip of the tongue is said to be bushy in nature and has even been compared to being like Velcro or sandpaper. This helps the hummingbirds trap insects and also assist them when they are probing within a flower in order to obtain nectar.