During our beautiful Whistler summers you may encounter one of the most exceptional airborne acrobats that nature ever created. British Columbia is home to 7 of the 340 recognized species of hummingbirds and they all possess truly remarkable qualities. Here are some fast facts about these unique members of the Whistler bird community.
- They are the smallest birds in the world
- They are the only birds that can fly backwards and sideways
- Their brain is 4.2% of their body weight – proportionally one of the largest in the animal kingdom
- The possess the fastest metabolic rate of any vertebrate on the planet
- They are capable of generating lift on both the downstroke and upstroke of their wings
- To fuel their rapid flight (up to 100 wing flaps per second), they consume their body weight in nectar each day
- They can only be found in the Americas (North, Central & South America)
- Typical adults weigh only 2 – 4 grams (similar to the weight of an almond)
- A hummingbird pulling up after a stunt dive is subjected to nine times the force of gravity (this would render a human unconscious)
If you see these natural wonders flitting around a patio or planter this summer, take a moment to marvel at their truly unique place in the animal kingdom, but look quickly. They never stay in one place for very long!