Who has never called the fantastic world of hummingbirds? It is not for less, because seeing them is fantastic and they are very beautiful to look at. Surely if you find out more about these birds and the number of species there are, you will be speechless.
Striped Hermit Hummingbird
Blue Hooded Diamond Hummingbird
Hummingbird of Abeillé
What is a hummingbird?
The hummingbird is better known by the name of troquilinos , and it is a subfamily of the Trochilidae. Generally, they are known as hummingbirds, but they are also called quindes, tucusitos, or hummingbirds.
They are originally from the American continent. Formerly they were heavily hunted and killed to decorate the hats of women of high rank, which surely led to the extermination of several species.
They are the smallest birds in the world, measuring between 5 – 10 cm in their vast majority. However, there is what is known as a giant hummingbird, which is 25 cm long. Also, they stand out for their beautiful coloring, one of the main reasons why it was hunted. Another of its great features is its long beak. The sword-billed hummingbird is the specimen that has the longest beak within the species, at 10 cm in length.
How does a hummingbird live?
The truth is that the type of life that the hummingbird leads will depend a lot on the species to which it belongs. Most of them are usually quite sedentary birds, who do not like at all when other hummingbirds enter their territory.
Many cases of hummingbirds have been found that have died in clashes over territories. They like to defend their food place. Males are not very good parents, since they do not mate with a single female, but they can reach ten in each tail season and it is the female who takes care of the eggs and the small ones once they have been born.
With humans, they can also be quite violent. Several cases of people who have been attacked by this type of bird have been documented, especially when they have seen their food zone in danger.
Interestingly, some hummingbirds live in gardens of human beings, feeding on their plants or survive thanks to the feeders that people make for them.
What is the life expectancy of a hummingbird?
The truth is that the life expectancy of a hummingbird is quite varied. The average is in the 5 years of life, but in some cases, specimens have been detected that have reached 10 years of life.
Those who live in urbanized areas are at higher risk of dying young. Mainly, because they are one of the most common prey for stray or domestic cats that hunt them in parks and gardens.
Is it easy to tell the male from the female?
Differentiating the male from the female of a hummingbird can be difficult. In some specimens, there is hardly any difference between them, so the DNA test can only be used to find out their sex.
However, as a general rule, the female lacks a color that the male does or has darker tones in its feathers. At other times, the female is usually slightly larger than the male, about 5% larger.
Could you have a hummingbird as a pet?
Generally, the hummingbird is a symbol related to freedom. In some countries, its possession as a pet is prohibited, but it is not uncommon to find specimens on the street that are young and have suffered some mishap.
In these cases, it is good to help them to strengthen themselves. Hummingbirds need to live in a cage that is roomy to have enough room to fly, with a little vegetation. They must have fresh water and a diet composed of ground insects to receive protein.
They tend to get stressed very easily when they see that they are deprived of their freedom to fly wherever they want, which is why the cage has to be large. Once they have recovered, they must be released. Due to their ease with stress, it is not a good idea to reach out to annoy them often. Neither is it to locate the cage in a place with too much activity. It is also not good that he is outside, because it can cause a great depression to know that he cannot get out of the cage.
It is not necessary to keep this bird confined to keep it as a pet. In fact, some people have hummingbirds in their gardens with whom they have a very good relationship. Indeed, hummingbirds feed mainly on the nectar they extract from flowers, but there are other ways to attract them.
The most common is to use a drinker with sugar water. For this, four cups of water are mixed with one of sugar, it is left to cool and it is colored in a trough that is hung at a good height and that has a showy color. From time to time it has to be washed, to prevent the hummingbird from being the victim of an infection or disease. Other people leave them feeders with nectar, so they don’t have to extract it from the plants.
Is it possible to train a hummingbird?
Surely you have seen some videos in which hummingbirds are seen obeying the orders that a human gives them. This answers your question: is it possible to train a hummingbird.
However, since hummingbirds are a species of bird that usually likes freedom and it is cruelty to have them locked in a house inside a cage, there are few cases in which it has been possible to domesticate one. They are not as patient as birds like parrots or agarponis. But if you get used to the person, they can be quite friendly.
What does feeding a hummingbird consist of?
Hummingbirds’ diet is mainly made up of the nectar they extract from flowers. They do this to obtain calories that allow them to fly and flap their wings at that speed. This also helps the pollination of the squares, as they distribute their pollen from flower to flower. In fact, it is thanks to this small task that the hummingbird performs that many species of flowers can survive.
The diet of this bird is rich in sugar, which allows the style of flight that involves a great consumption of energy. They are especially attracted to red or orange flowers.
It is true that their main food is nectar, but not only sugar can they feed. They also require a lot of protein. That is why 20% of their diet is made up of small insects. They mainly hunt them in the leaves of the trees or their trunks, like ants or worms. It may also eat insects that it hunts on the fly, such as wasps and bees, especially if they are trying to take away its food source.
On rare occasions, it will feed on the sap of trees. However, if a woodpecker has made a gap through which it comes out, it will take advantage of it to feed on it.
How do hummingbirds reproduce?
The truth is that it could be said that the hummingbird is a very selfish bird when it comes to reproduction. To arouse the interest of the female, dance, and if she is interested, she will proceed to the mating process.
The female, once fertilized, builds a nest, lined inside with spider web, cotton, lichen, and moss, shaped like a cup, in low shrubs. The eggs that usually lay only two, there is rarely a laying of three, with a difference of one day from each.
These eggs are hatched by the female for about 14 – 19 days. The mother feeds the young for three to four weeks. During this time, the female can leave and return to the nest up to 140 times a day to feed her young. The young do not leave the nest right away, but it can take up to almost two months to leave. At two months they are already sufficiently autonomous at one month of life, but at that time they return to the nest at night, because that is where they feel safest, and they will not look for a new home until they are two months old.
How is your relationship with human beings?
The truth is that hummingbirds are one of the most popular birds in the world and many people adore them. In the past, talismans were worn in the shape of hummingbirds, as a symbol of strength. They also became symbols of energy and work in many cultures, as a representation that “a group capable of working as a team will be capable of achieving great things.”
In wartime, the role of the hummingbird was different. For men, it was a representation to protect their people. Since the beak was considered to be “very strong”, it was associated with weapons and bloodshed. The god of war and the sun, Huitzilopochtli, of the Ohlone culture, holds a hummingbird in his left hand. This god brought the gift of fire to Earth for human beings. With this, people believe that the hummingbird is a symbol of protection.
In other stories, such as Noah’s ark, they indicate that it was a hummingbird and not a dove that found land. This is explained in the Pima legend, although the pigeon story is the most popular. In the world of animation, it has also been a bird that has been used to captivate children, in adaptations such as Cinderella and Pocahontas, reflecting a type of bird that was attracted to a beautiful heroine.
The main causes of mortality of a hummingbird
Unfortunately, the life expectancy of a hummingbird is not very high, especially if they live in the wild. One of the main causes of death that experts associate is the possibility that the hummingbird could suffer from diabetes.
The hummingbird covers 80% of its diet with the sugar that it obtains from the nectar of the flowers, which allows it to flap its wings so fast and flutter in that peculiar way from one side to another. But this is also very dangerous for them, and in most cases causes them to die at a very young age.
The second cause of death is the abandonment of the offspring by the father. In the species of hummingbirds, it is the mother who has to take charge of the nest, and this on many occasions causes it to remain empty and unprotected. Given this, many predators take advantage of the situation to get one of the chicks to feed on them.
The battles between other hummingbirds are another of the main causes of mortality within this species. L birds being so territorial, fighting between birds is very typical, and this causes one of the two to very badly injured, or worst die during that battle.
The cat is one of the main predators of these birds. They take advantage of when they are perched in the trees to attack and kill them. Generally, many of the cats do not eat hummingbirds, but seeing them flutter and the movement they make captures their attention, so they try to hunt them.
Other birds are also its worst enemies. An example is found in the falcon, one of the birds with the best vision and incredible speed. If a hummingbird has become the target of a member of this species, it has very little chance of escape once it has been detected.
In some regions, there is what is known as the Blue Jay, a type of bird that is known to feed on small species of hummingbirds. Snakes can also be one of your greatest enemies, especially as they climb trees and blend in with the environment, silently gliding so that it cannot detect their presence. Their diet is mainly composed of the eggs that hummingbirds leave in their nests, but they also attack birds.
The praying mantis is another natural predator of these small birds, blending in with the surroundings and taking advantage when a hummingbird lands near it to attack it. Since it is a bird with very calculated movements, it is capable of attacking at a majestic speed, and it can take several days to fully feed on a hummingbird, which is why it is considered such a highly valued food.
Smaller species of hummingbirds are the perfect target for large spiders. They create fabrics for the hummingbird to get stuck, while others will attack them emerging from nowhere and inject their venom to immobilize it and thus devour it. A hummingbird can indeed feed on bees and wasps, especially if they come to its food area, but the cases in which these insects manage to kill a hummingbird and feed on it are not rare.
Human beings are another of the main causes of the death of these birds. Not many people indeed kill these birds for pleasure, but they are the cause of the deforestation of the habitat of this species, as well as the destruction of their nests.
Where do hummingbirds usually live?
Hummingbirds usually settle in wooded areas, generally near areas rich in floral fauna, and live hidden in crevices in stones or within tree trunks.
On some occasions, they tend to approach urbanized areas, where they interact with the floral fauna of the area, especially in gardens and public parks. These types of hummingbirds are the ones that have best adapted to the deforestation of their homes.
What to do if you have a hummingbird in the garden?
Just because you can’t have a hummingbird as a pet doesn’t mean you can’t have it as a roommate. Many people who have garden houses enjoy the company of these birds. Or, knowing that they live nearby, they build them a source of food.
Now, if you see that you have one near your house, what should you do?
- Never try to hunt it. Hummingbirds are very skittish birds and they don’t like being caught trying to catch them. Better to leave it alone.
- You can build a drinker with sugar water or with a little nectar. The bird will appreciate it.
- Do not be scared that it comes near your plants. On the contrary, it is ideal for the hummingbird to go from one to another because this benefits them.
- Do not approach him from behind or try to surprise him, this could cause him to get scared and attack you.
- If you see that it is injured, take it indoors and leave it in a place where it will not be disturbed, with a small nest box. Feed him a little nectar and sugar water until he’s recovered.
- You can build a little house for it, but hummingbirds rarely want to live in it. However, there have been many cases.
- If you have cats and they usually go out in the garden, keep an eye on them, because the life of the hummingbird could be in danger.
- Take the opportunity for your children to know and observe this bird, as it will help them learn a lot about it.
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