One of the Natural World’s Most Amazing Things

One of the Natural Worlds Most Amazing Things

The hummingbird is one of the natural world’s most amazing things. Researchers have compiled new hummingbird data using modern methods, including high-speed photography. An adult hummingbird weighs roughly 4 grams, and to get a handle on that, a penny weighs about 2.5 grams. There are 21 species of hummingbirds in North America, and one species, called the bee hummingbird, weighs less than a penny.

Hummingbirds don’t beat their wings as most birds do; instead, they rotate them in a figure-eight pattern. That allows them to hover and fly backward or even upside down. The rate of wing motion is up to 80 cycles per second. That is within the range of human hearing and explains the humming sound that gives these birds their name. The metabolic rates of hummingbirds are amazing, as their heart rate is around 1,260 beats, and their breathing rate is 250 breaths per minute. These rapid rates mean hummingbirds may find a place to rest as often as every 15 minutes.

One of the natural world’s most amazing things is that hummingbirds can travel non-stop across the Gulf of Mexico in spring and autumn. Before embarking on that trip, they double their body weight with nectar and insects. When the temperature is low, they go into hypothermic torpor to survive.

The hummingbird’s eyes have a dense concentration of cones in their retinas containing pigments that act as filters to heighten color sensitivity to red while muting blue. Pollination is a major purpose of hummingbirds. Ruby-throated hummingbirds deposit ten times as much pollen as bumblebees, and their life expectancy is 3 to 6 years.

It is with great joy that I watch hummingbirds come to the feeder outside my office window. Their various characteristics speak of the wonder of God’s creation, defying chance explanation. Once again, we “can know there is a God through the things He has made” (Romans 1:20). The hummingbird is one of the natural world’s most amazing things.

— John N. Clayton © 2024

Reference: “Fascinating Hummingbird Facts” by Tom Warren on