National Hummingbird Day
the first Saturday in September
Today we celebrate the hummingbird! There are about 325 species of hummingbirds, but only eight of them regularly breed in the United States. Although, up to two dozen species can be found there at various times. Most species of hummingbirds can be found in South America, Central America, and the Caribbean, and there are no hummingbirds outside of the Western Hemisphere. Many species can breed together, which creates hybrid species.
Hummingbirds are very small—many weigh less than the weight of a nickel. The calliope hummingbird is 3 inches long, and the bee hummingbird, native to Cuba, is the smallest bird species in the world, at 2.25 inches in length. Hummingbirds have such small feet that they can't walk or hop properly. They can shuffle a bit, though, but their feet are mainly used for preening. The small size of their feet also allows them to fly quicker. They can fly up to 30 miles per hour when going forward, and up to 60 miles per hour when diving.
Each species of hummingbird makes a different humming sound because the wings of each species beat at a different rate. Generally, a hummingbird's wings beat somewhere between 50 and 200 times a second. Wings aren't the only things that beat quickly when it comes to hummingbirds: their hearts beat more than 1,200 times a minute. They also take a breath about 250 times a minute, and that number is even higher when they are flying.
Hummingbirds may fly hundreds or even thousands of miles to migrate. They mainly eat nectar, but also eat small insects, spiders, tree sap, and juice from fruit. Their lifespan ranges from 3 to 12 years and is contingent on factors such as their species, habitat, and vulnerability due to predators and other threats. Today we learn everything we can about hummingbirds, and enjoy their presence in our yards and out in nature!
How to Observe National Hummingbird Day
Some ideas on how to spend the day include:
- Check for events dedicated to hummingbirds taking place near you. You could also plan a trip to attend a hummingbird event or festival that is taking place now or at any time in the year.
- Educate yourself and others about hummingbirds. Watch a documentary such as Hummingbirds or Hummingbirds: Magic in the Air. Read A Monograph of the Trochilidae, or Family of Hummingbirds, or one of many other books. If you are a teacher, you could prepare a lesson plan about hummingbirds for the day.
- Take care of hummingbirds by starting a hummingbird garden, putting up a hummingbird feeder, or supporting The Hummingbird Society.
- Find a place to view hummingbirds, and see if you can identify the birds while doing so.