These birds are magical, they inspire lightheartedness and bring smiles to faces. They are beautiful and captivating, enchanting and inspiring.
And it’s not just their appearance, when you start to learn about the hummingbird you find that they really are wonders of nature.
Their wings flap so fast that they make a humming noise and are barely visible to the human eye. They are the only bird which can truly hover, a skill necessary as the flowers they feed on have nowhere for them to perch.
The Bee Hummingbird is, as the name suggests, is the size of a bee. The biggest Hummingbird is still less than an ounce and about the same length as a starling but considerable more slender. If they were any bigger, they wouldn’t be able to flap their wings fast enough to keep themselves airborne whilst hovering and thus would not be able to feed on the high energy nectar it needs for it’s high energy lifestyle.
They have an intricate relationship with their food source. Some hummingbirds can only feed on one type of flower as their beaks and the flower’s shape have evolved together to create a niche in the environment. The flowers provide nectar which only the hummingbird can reach and in turn the hummingbird pollinates the plant. This is a vulnerable place to be in the web of life, should harm come to either bird or plant then potentially two species will become lost to us. As we will see, these iridescent marvels really do live on the edge.
Hummingbirds have a seemingly endless supply of energy. These beautiful creatures essentially have their metabolism stuck in overdrive though so they have to be very careful. If they can’t feed incredibly regularly, they will die. At night, the flowers they feed from close up and to survive the hummingbird has to go into a state of torpor. Their heart rate, up to 1,260 beats a minute, falls dramatically along with body temperature (from 40 to 18 °C) and their rate of breathing. This is a state very much like hibernation, except instead of once a year, the hummingbird has to do this every day in order to stay alive. You may have seen the cute video where it appears a hummingbird is snoring, well this is it waking up from torpor and kickstarting it’s body again.
How are you managing your energy levels? Think about what fuels you – it might be writing, art, being in nature etc. And think about how you can rebalance when you’re burning out. Watch out for your energy levels, especially if, like the hummingbird, you’re prone to living on the edge of your fuel tank.
Not an actual hummingbird, but Meg over at That Hummingbird Life runs an awesome website, podcast and design business, is absolutely lovely and designed the branding for this website!