Hummingbirds are regular visitors to gardens during spring and summer. Did you know they are the only birds that can hover in air like a helicopter? They can even move back and forth—that is quite a unique ability indeed.
These birds are best known for their tiny stature, beautiful feathers and their incredible wing speed. But one kind of hummingbird is quite mysterious. Well, it’s also the smallest bird in the world: the bee hummingbird.
This tiny hummingbird is a dream-come-true for avid birdwatchers because of their bright plumage. The tiny bird is only as big as a large bee. It weigh one-fifteenth of an ounce! The little bird inhabits the island nation of Cuba.
These birds are so small that they actually have to compete with insects for their food. Male bee hummingbirds defend their favorite flora from hawk moths and bumblebees to get the best pick of In nectar, mosquitos and spiders.
But how can such a tiny bird scare away anything? Well, what they lack in size, they make up for in aerial skill with flight.
The bee hummingbird’s body has specially evolved to keep it in the air. Their busy metabolism gives them more time to fly than any other hummingbird. Can you believe that bee hummingbirds beat their tiny wings 200 times in the span of a second? That is even more than other hummingbirds by 80 beats per second.
All this energy means that they have to devour their body’s weight in nectar and insects. They can visit up to 1,500 flowers in a single day!
Like most birds, these bee hummingbirds also have a special way to woo their mates. When it’s time for breeding season, singing males try impress the ladies by forming a cappella groups. Their songs are mostly of a few warbles or repetitive peeps, but this seems to work. Once they get a mate, these singing groups part ways. Female bee hummingbirds lay one or two pea-sized eggs in a nest that is as big as a quarter.
Because of their tiny size, these birds are easy prey for other birds or snakes. But the biggest threat to them so far is deforestation and habitat loss.
Cuba’s cutting down of forest to make way for agricultural land pose a serious threat to these tiny birds who inhabit these forests. The bee hummingbird is currently considered “near threatened” on the IUCN Red List, and that is quite alarming.
Perhaps this warning might make people more aware about their actions and do their best to further damage the population.
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