The Bee Hummingbird! The Tale of Teeny Tiny Wings

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Happy New Year and cheers to a wonderful 2019, Defenders! A new year brings us 52 new Animals of the Week, and to start it off we’ve got one of the smallest animals on the planet – the Bee Hummingbird. These hummingbirds are the smallest birds on the planet, often weighing less than 2 grams and smaller than 3 inches! They also are a species of animal that is sexually dimorphic – the males usually have a reddish throat area and blue on the back and top, while females are a little bigger than males and green on the top/back. Like all birds these animals lay eggs – also some of the smallest on the planet!  – and have been reported to enjoy 10 specific plant species in their diet, all endemic to the same place as the Bee Hummingbird.

Where Can You Find A Bee Hummingbird?

Like those 10 special plants they love so much, the Bee Hummingbird is an animal native to Cuba, as well as the Isle of Pines, the second largest island of Cuba. There are special hills with rocks & minerals known as a “Mogote” and the Bee Hummingbird is found here the most, although they are all across Cuba and the surrounding islands. The Zapata Swamp is also a special location in the area that has tons of unique wildlife, and the Bee Hummingbird can be found there as well.

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What Is Their Life Span?

Birds as a whole generally have longer lifespans than most animals – a pet parrot will usually outlive a pet dog! Smaller animals usually do have shorter lifespans though, and the Bee Hummingbird is no exception for that either. In the wild they have been recorded to live up to 7 years, while captivity will extend that by a little, with an average lifespan of 10 years there. With a shorter lifespan often comes a shorter incubation time – females will lay 2 eggs at a time that incubate for less than 1 month, and then the chicks fledge after about 20 – 40 days.

How Fast Does A Hummingbird Flap Its Wings?

People are always curious about just how fast a hummingbird can flap its wings. Most hummingbirds beats are around 70 beats per second, but the Bee Hummingbird is even a bit faster, usually around 80 beats per second! When it is mating season these animals will really go the extra distance for a mate – they can sometimes rev up to 200 times per minute.

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Is Sugar Water Bad For Hummingbirds?

Many people like having bird feeders in their yards to attract some colorful flying friends, and hummingbirds often are talked about with sugar water. The truth is, you have to be very careful! Cane Sugar is considered the best choice for making hummingbird nectar, although beet sugar can work as well. Any other type of sugar – organic, raw, brown, white, or any artificial sweetners, should NOT be used. And make sure to change the nectar every few days so it can stay safe for the birds!

How Fast Can They Fly?

Hummingbirds truly are some of the champions of flight in our world. While not the biggest or overall fastest, for their size it’s very impressive that the Bee Hummingbird can move 25 – 30 miles per hour, and they don’t even tire out from all that flapping…it’s possible for a Bee Hummingbird to stay flying for 20 hours straight! In addition to the speed and endurance, they also are extremely nimble in the air, with the ability to backwards, straight up or straight down, and even flying upside down!


Bee Hummingbird Mellisuga helenae female Flickr gailhampshire ()