There are actually 338 different species of Hummingbirds. The smallest kind is the Cuban hummingbird (2 1/4 inches) and the largest is the Pategonia gigas, a Chilean type that is 8 1/2 inches long. But most hummingbirds are about 3 or 4 inches long--they are the smallest birds in North America! They have multi-colored feathers all over the body that seem to shimmer in the light. Hummingbird wings are very unique: they are designed to let the bird hover in the air for long periods of time. Their wings beat 70 times per second and let the bird move forward, backwards, up, down, diagonally, and even in circles with great strength. A hummingbird's eyes are high on the side of its head to let it see enemies from far away. The long narrow beak lets the hummingbird poke into deep flowers to reach nectar.

The hummingbird lives throughout North, Central, and South America. It prefers to be near mountains, city gardens or parks with plenty of flowers. Hummingbirds eat nectar, insects, and the spiders commonly found in flowers. It collects nectar with a licking motion using its long tongue-- up to 13 licks per second! This tongue is actually split down the middle and has fringes along the sides to help gather nectar.

Hummingbirds mate in the spring, usually around April or May. Male hummingbirds will perform fancy flights, show off their feathers, and give off songs in order to attract females to mate. Females build the nests alone, and each type of hummingbird builds a different nest, usually lining it with soft cobwebs. After building the nest, the female will lay 1 or 2 tiny eggs. After about 18 days the eggs hatch. The young hummingbirds are cared for by the female alone for 20 days before they then leave the nest. Even when they are on their own, the mother continues to watch and guard her young.

Learn more about other Birds

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