Who else loves hummingbirds? (All of you should be saying “me!”) Like tiny, feathered, emerald jets but with about 1000 times the personality, these adorable little critters are fixtures of summer in Colorado. It’s hard not to enjoy watching them zoom from flower to flower and is even harder not to be in awe of just how super these smallest of birds actually are. These “flying emeralds” are actually super smart and are thought to be able to remember where to find individual flowers on their migrations between Central and North America (that’s a lot of flowers to remember)! Hummingbirds love bright colors (it’s been scientifically proven that they like red especially), so if you want to attract some to your yard you should plant some bright hummingbird flowers. You can also set up a hummingbird feeder (with a mixture of 1 part sugar to 4 parts water) around your house or porch and then you get to watch the hummingbirds come feed outside your window! Here in Colorado there are 4 native species of super-slurping hummers to look out for: broad-tailed hummingbirds, rufous hummingbirds, calliope hummingbirds, and black-chinned hummingbirds. 

Some fun hummingbird facts:

  • Hummers beat their wings incredibly fast (about 70 times per second) in a figure-8 pattern that lets them both hover and fly backwards (the only birds that can go in reverse)
  • Hummers are so smart because their brains are big! They have the biggest brain of any bird relative to their body size
  • Hummingbirds drink nectar from flowers with their tongues, not sucking with their beak
  • Hummingbird feathers are very bright colors, especially the males’ throats (called gorgets), but those colors can be hidden when the bird holds the feathers a certain way
  • Hummingbird hearts beat around 250 times per minute at rest. For comparison, healthy human hearts beat around 60-80 beats per minute at rest
  • Rufous and calliope hummingbirds are notoriously brave and territorial and have been known to chase off animals as big as red-tailed hawks even though the hummers are barely the size of the hawk’s foot
  • Broad-tailed hummingbirds make a special zooming sound when they fly, because the males have a special feather that makes this sound, kind of like when you put a card in the spoke on your bike to make it sound like a motorcycle
  • The best places to regularly see hummingbirds in Colorado are in mountain meadows of wildflowers, where broad-tailed hummingbirds are happiest
  • All four native species of hummingbird found in Colorado live at least 8 years
  • Hummingbirds are only found in the Americas, where there are over 300 species
  • Hummingbirds have to eat at least half their body weight each day to stay alive

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