Saturday, 2 February 2013

Bee Hummingbird

order : Apodiformes      Genus & Species : Trochilidae     Family : Mellisuga helenae

The bee hummingbird is the world’s smallest bird.To feed, it spends its time buzzing from flower to flower and sipping the sugary nectar that provides its energy. While hovering to feed, this tiny living jewel beats its wings so rapidly that they disappear in a blur and produce an insect-like hum. They found mainly in parks, gardens and open woodland, wherever its favored food source (nectar-rich flowers) is most abundant. 

Habitat : In its Caribbean island habitat, the bee hummingbird is usually seen around small flowers, since its tiny beak can’t reach the nectar of larger flowers. The hummingbird is solitary; the male in particular stakes out a territory with a good source of nectar and busily patrols it, chasing intruding hummingbirds away. Favorite perches include the highest treetops and telephone wires. 
Food & Feeding : The bee hummingbird feeds on nectar, a vital food for a bird that uses energy so rapidly. The hummingbird reaches nectar by hovering in front of a flower. Completely still except for its whirring wings, it reaches inside petals to take nectar on its long, brush-tipped tongue. Favorite plants include coral plant and scarlet bush. A bloomladen shrub may attract a group of hummingbirds, although typically each bird visits plants in rotation, giving each plant time to replenish its nectar.The hummingbird may also eat small insects and spiders. As the hummingbird drinks from a flower, its head is dusted with pollen, which it carries to other flowers as it feeds. In doing so, it fertilizes the flowers and helps the plants colonize its habitat. 
Behavior : The hummingbird flies with masterly control, but such maneuverability has its cost, as the energy required rapidly exhausts the bird. To fuel its high body temperature and energy consumption, it feeds almost ceaselessly by day. In the cool of the night, the hummingbird stops feeding. Because the bird is too small to stay warm while it remains inactive, it falls into a torpor — its body temperature and heart rate fall, reducing its energy needs. 
Breeding : The male hummingbird sings a song of high-pitched squeaks and twitters to attract a mate, a song he learns as he matures by listening to other males. Several males may compete for one female, with much chasing and excited twittering. After mating, however, the male fulfills no further parental duties. Using plant fiber and lichens, the female weaves a cup-shaped nest the size of half a walnut shell and binds it to a branch with spiders’ webs. She lays two white eggs 0.3" long and 0.009 oz. The female feeds her tiny nestlings by regurgitating nectar into their throats. Young hummingbirds grow slowly and take more than 18 days to fledge; poor weather or food scarcity can delay their progress even further. 


Bill : The hummingbird uses its thin, 0.4"-long bill and brushtipped tongue to reach deep into flowers and sip nectar. 
Head : The male’s head is adorned with long throat plumes and iridescent neck feathers that sparkle bright red in sunlight. 
Legs & Feet : Legs are short and the feet are small. Large feet and claws are unnecessary for a bird that spends so much time on the wing. 
Wings : The tiny size and rapid action of the wings lets the bird control its position with remarkable precision while hovering. 


Weight : 0.07 oz. 
Length : 2.4"
Wingspan : 4"
Sexual Maturity : 1 year
Breeding Season : Depend on availability of nector 


The genus name, Mellisuga, means “honey-sucker.” Its species name, Helenae, honors Helena Booth, the benefactress of Juan Gundlach, who first identified the bird.