Thursday, August 29, 2013

Hummingbirds Don't Treat Geese as Public Transport and Other Important Facts

Photo from
Today, while researching something entirely unrelated, I happened upon the myth that hummingbirds migrate by hitching rides on the backs of geese. I had never heard this particular folk tale before, but apparently it started with the pilgrims who didn't believe that such little birds could cover large distances on their own. And so a legend was born.

The truth about hummingbirds is far weirder than any fiction. Even when I dealt with them on a daily basis as a wildlife vet tech I was constantly amazed. So, without further fanfare, I present you with a random collection of seven hummingbird facts to enliven your evening.

*Hummingbirds are very ferocious and territorial. Males will claim areas of up to 1/4 acre. They have been known to attack not only other hummingbirds but also images of hummingbirds, jays, crows, and even birds of prey. 

*Hummingbirds do everything fast. Even mating only takes about 4 seconds.

*Hummingbirds do migrate, but they do it under their own power, not with the help of any waterfowl. They can cover about 25 miles a day, and can even cross open ocean and desert, a surprising sight for oil rig workers who have been buzzed by the tiny birds miles off the coast.

*Hummingbirds have the highest brain to body size ratio of any bird in the world

*Dinosaurs are not extinct. Hummingbirds are one of the most highly specialized modern forms.

*Hummingbirds are the smallest type of bird in the world. The bee hummingbird is the tiniest and weighs only 2g.

*Hummingbirds can enter a state called torpor that resembles a miniature hibernation period but can be mistaken for death. Occasionally they will hang upside down during this time.


  1. Its all fascinating- even the folk tale :)

    They are descended from dinosaurs ???? I guess you could map out their evolution in comic format ? You never know- it could be a best seller- although sex in 4 seconds might kill it for some :)

  2. Haha! Yeah, that's true, Brizel! :)

  3. I love hummers! I have seen them buzzing hawks before and I love the Mating dance the male does. I have actually held one in my hand when it was trapped inside our house. So small and Cute! ( we released him unharmed) never hread that folk tale though...something I can add into my "birders geek book"


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