Hummingbird Migration is taking speed and soon hummers will be feasting on nectars in yards and gardens across the country. Much has been said about hummingbird migration and the flight patterns of these petite birds. Hummingbirds typically visit the same feeders, in the same order, year after year. Bird advocates who have been feeding hummers for any amount of time will often name their hummers and look forward to watching them at hummingbird feeders each day.
Not only is the appearance of hummingbirds intriguing, but their overall nature and behavior makes them a species that is a favorite to many. Hummingbirds are unique creatures that have the natural capabilities to be aerodynamic birds. Here’s what we mean…
Flight Facts Of Hummingbirds
What sets hummers apart from other bird species is their precise, darting flying patterns, small body structure, and natural beauty. Hummingbirds can fly up to 60 miles per hour when in a steep dive flight pattern. More commonly, hummers fly from nectar source to nectar source at speeds of 20 to 45 miles per hour.
Approximately 90% of a hummers time in flight is spent hovering at a feeding spot. This behavioral trait is a large energy drainer of our tiny feathered friends; contributing to your frequent hummingbird feeder refills.
Tip: During migration time, hummingbirds need all the energy they can get to make the long journey north. Make sure your feeders are out, filled, and ready to welcome hummers along their journey to warmer climates and breeding locations.
Physical Traits Make Hummers Lighter Than Air
- In addition to their small stature, hummingbirds have hollow bones and fused vertebrae and a fused pelvis. This physical feature eliminates excess weight that would be caused by additional muscle and ligaments.
- 25% of a hummer’s body weight is made up by their large chest muscles and sternum. Although, it’s these muscles that keep the hummer’s wings beating faster than ever (About.com).
- One of the most poignant features of these pint-sized birds are their wings. With long, sturdy bones at the tips of the wings, hummers are able to keep their wings stable, making for a more precise flight.
- Speaking of wings – did you know hummingbird’s wings beat 8-200 times per minute? Hummers make this all possible with a larger heart, pumping to support high levels of wing movement.
Hummingbird Aerodynamics Explained
With flight attributes that resemble insects, hummingbirds are unique birds with their own movements. What give a hummingbird the capability to fly straight, reverse, upwards, downwards, and upside down? The answer is a flexible shoulder joint that allows a hummer’s wings 180 degree rotation, often resembling a steady figure 8 motion.
Normal birds use half of their weight to support upward movement and half for downward movement; that’s not the case for hummingbirds. Hummers use nearly 75 percent of their body weight for increasing motion of their wings. The other 25 percent of their weight supports downward motions (HummingWorlds.com).
Now that you’ve learned a little bit more about what makes hummingbirds fly, what have you noticed about the hummers in your backyard? We want to hear from you!
Spot your hummingbird sightings on our Migration Map and see where your favorite hummer is hovering.