940 Feathers: Appreciating Hummingbirds

male hummingbird

Male Ruby-throated Hummingbird.

Feathers: Some feathers on a hummingbird hold bright radiant color. This coloring comes from iridescent coloring like on a soap bubble or prism and requires sunlight to show these colors off. An average sized hummingbird will have about 940 feathers. This is more feathers per square inch of their body than any other bird in the animal kingdom. – Hummingbird Anatomy

female hummingbird

Female Ruby-throated Hummingbird.

Eyes: Hummingbirds have very large eyes in proportion to their body weight. The eyes are set on the side of the head allowing the hummingbird to see both ahead (binocular vision) and on the side peripherally (monocular vision). Hummingbirds have many more rods and cones than humans in their eyes to help them see well. This makes them better able to see colors and ultraviolet light. Hummingbird’s eyes will regularly outweigh a hummingbird’s brain. – Hummingbird Anatomy

male hummingbird

Beak: The beak or bill on a hummingbird is longer in proportion to their body than other birds. This is so they can reach deep down into a tubular flower to get the nectar. A hummingbird’s beak is not hollow. They do not sip nectar up like a straw. The beak or bill has an upper and lower portion, much like any other bird. – Hummingbird Anatomy

“I like to imagine they use their beaks for fencing.” – my daughter Anna


Haida hummingbird art by April White

Northwest Tribal Art Symbols: A literal messenger of joy, this beautiful tiny bird, also called Sah Sen, represents friendship, playfulness, and is a symbol of good luck in Northwest Coastal Native art.

And more from World of Hummingbirds/ Anatomy...

Tongue: The tongue on a hummingbird is very long. It is grooved like the shape of a “W”. On the tip of the tongue are brushy hairs that help lap up nectar from a flower. A hummingbird can lap up nectar at a rate of about thirteen (13) licks per second. Hummingbirds have only a few taste buds on the tongue. Hummingbirds can taste just enough to know what is good and what is bad. They can also taste what too sweet, not sweet enough, or just right.

Nostrils: Hummingbird nostrils are located at the base of the beak. Hummingbirds have no sense of smell.

Bones: In order to be as lightweight as possible, most of the hummingbird’s bones are extremely porous. Some hummingbird bones, like those in the wings and legs, are hollow to save even more weight.

Brain: A hummingbird’s brain is approximately 4.2% of its body weight, the largest proportion in the bird kingdom. Hummingbirds are very smart and they can remember every flower they have been to, and how long it will take a flower to refill.

Wings: A hummingbird’s wings are unlike any other bird’s wings. They allow a hummingbird fly forward, backward, hover, and even fly upside-down for a short period of time. Hummingbirds are the only birds in the world that can fly like this. A hummingbird can perform these feats of acrobatics for several reasons. First of all their shoulder joint is a ball and socket joint that allows the hummingbird to rotate their wings one hundred eighty (180) degrees in all directions. Hummingbird wings with beat about seventy (70) times per second while in regular flight and up to 200 times per second when diving. (Smaller hummingbird’s wings beat about thirty-eight (38) to about seventy-eight (78) times a second while larger ones beat their wings about eighteen (18) to twenty-eight (28) times per second.) Hummingbirds don’t flap their wings, they rotate them. When hummingbirds fly, they move their wings in an oval pattern, except when they are hovering. When they are hovering they will move their wings in a figure-eight motion. A hummingbird can fly at an average speed of twenty-five (25) to thirty (30) miles per hour, and dive at a speed of up to sixty (60) miles per hour.

When hummingbirds fly, they fly upright, facing the world, not flat like most birds. – World of Hummingbirds

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s