About animals

Family: Trochilidae Vigors, 1825 = Hummingbird


The birds belonging to this family are so different from the 2 families of the Swift-like order (from swifts) described above that they stand out in a separate suborder - Trochili. This includes the smallest birds in the world, weighing about 1.6-1.8 g. However, there are hummingbirds and larger sizes, for example, even with a swallow: the body length of a giant hummingbird (Patagona gigas) is about 20 cm.

The hummingbird’s beak is thin and long, sometimes very long, for example, in the beak hummingbird (Ensifera ensifera), the beak is longer than the entire length of the bird (i.e. head, neck and torso). Thus, this species of hummingbird is the longest-billed bird in the world. Usually the beak is straight, sometimes it is slightly curved downwards, rarely it is strongly curved. The nostrils are slit-like, located near the edges of the beak. Hummingbird tongue is a long thin tube with a fringe at the end.

Hummingbird wings are not very long. Their main surface, like that of swifts, is made up of highly developed dense primary wing feathers, there are 10 in hummingbirds. The wing is characterized by a reduced number of secondary wing feathers, in some cases only 6. The tail of the hummingbird has the most diverse shape and length. Sometimes it is quite short and straight cut, sometimes cut, sometimes similar to open scissors, it happens that one pair of steering is very elongated. The usual number of steering feathers is 10, but in some species there are only 4 steering feathers, one pair having a normal structure and the other elongated, their rods are almost completely devoid of a fan, they look like a wire, and only at the end they expand like a flag. Hummingbird legs are four-fingered, very weak.

The plumage of a hummingbird of the most varied color, often with a metallic sheen. The color of the plumage in a very strong degree depends on the microstructure of the feathers, on their reflection of light. Therefore, at different positions relative to the light, the color of the same bird looks different.

Some species of hummingbirds have a pronounced crest, while others have elongated feathers on the sides of the head or neck, forming a kind of collar.

Of the anatomical signs, the extraordinary development of the heart should be mentioned: it is almost three times the volume of the stomach and occupies half the body cavity. This is due to the great mobility of birds and rapid metabolism. We add that hummingbirds have more red blood balls than other birds. Hummingbird's heart rate is extremely high: in some species, it reaches 1000 per minute. The sternal keel is very large, long and tall, and the muscles controlling the wing movements are very developed. The muscle that lifts the wing (subclavian muscle) weighs only half as much as the muscle that lowers the wing. A similar ratio is observed among penguins. This is due to the great work done during the wing lift by penguins and hummingbirds. The humerus is very short, even shorter than that of the swifts, while it is directed parallel to the length of the body. This causes a peculiar movement of the hummingbird wing during flight: the humerus does not rise and fall, but rotates around its axis, and the tip of the wing describes an elongated figure eight. In this case, the wing is twisted, turning either one side up or the other. The wings move extremely fast, so that the observer sees only the light cloud surrounding the bird and hears a slight noise of small wings. The smaller the hummingbird, the greater the number of strokes. A red hummingbird weighing about 2 g (Phaethornis ruber) makes a 50–51 sweep per second, a weighing 6 g red-headed hummingbird (Eupetomena macroura) - 21–23 swings. During mating flight, the number of strokes in some species of hummingbirds can increase to 100. While in flight, hummingbirds constantly hang, that is, remain in the air in one place. Their body is in a position close to vertical.

Another great feature of hummingbirds is that their body temperature is very unstable. Hummingbirds are warm-blooded only when they move (fly), which happens throughout the day. With the onset of twilight, the bird hurries to sit on a branch, its body temperature drops sharply (to 17-21 ° C), and it falls into a stupor. It is known that hummingbirds can stay in a state of stupor for 15-20 hours.

According to observations in captivity, the hummingbird becomes lethargic in the event of a lack of food, falls to the floor, shrinks into a lump, trying to close its small body with wings. His body temperature decreases, and a numbness sets in, from which the bird can be brought out by heating it in his hands and immediately offering it food. It remains unclear whether the hummingbird can remain in a stupor all winter. However, it is known that hummingbirds living in temperate latitudes make flights to hot countries for the winter.

Hummingbirds eat a lot, eating food per day, by weight, about 2 times more than they weigh. Only in this way can they maintain enhanced metabolism and a constant body temperature. They feed on plant (flower nectar) and animal (small soft insects and spiders) food. Having flown up to the flower and stopped in front of it in the air, the hummingbird introduces its beak into the flower and, without opening it, only slightly lifts the upper beak and protrudes the end of the tongue folded in a tubule. Then, with strong swallowing movements, nectar is pumped into the oral cavity, enters the esophagus and then, bypassing the stomach, is poured into the duodenum. As for small insects and spiders, they enter the stomach. Some species collect spiders and insects from leaves and small twigs on the fly (hovering in the air). Hummingbirds sometimes catch flying insects. Hummingbirds feed, pumping nectar into their beaks, while they also hang in the air.

The experience of keeping hummingbirds in captivity has shown that they cannot do with nectar alone. They need to add animal protein to their food.

For the beautiful plumage of hummingbirds, they are harvested in very large numbers, which led to a sharp decrease in the number of many of them. In the past century, millions of hummingbird skins were exported to Europe from South America and the Antilles. Only from the West Indies up to 400 thousand hummingbirds per year were sometimes imported into the London markets. Currently, bans and restrictions on the capture and trade of hummingbirds have been introduced at the national and international levels. More than 10 species of hummingbirds are listed in the Red Book of the International Union for Conservation of Nature, of which 4 species are recognized as endangered (3 species from Brazil and 1 species from Chile).

Hummingbirds are widely distributed in the western hemisphere, and they penetrate cold regions in the north and south of both continents of America. But the largest number of their species (163) is characteristic of the tropical north of South America - the Amazon basin. Most hummingbirds are found in Ecuador and the surrounding parts of Colombia and Peru. In the very south of South America and in Tierra del Fuego, only one species nests. One species, the ruby-throated hummingbird (Archilochus colubris), is distributed in eastern North America north to Labrador, and one species, the ocher hummingbird (Selasphorus rufus), lives in western North America from Mexico to Alaska. In June 1976, a buffy hummingbird flew to Ratmanova Island in the Bering Strait. This is the first find of a hummingbird on the territory of our country.

Hummingbirds inhabit plains and mountains, humid habitats and even deserts. Some species have a wide range, while others are common in a very small area, sometimes on top of one mountain. The latter is usually associated with the presence of a feed plant only there, to the size and shape of the flowers of which the beak of the bird is adapted.

Hummingbirds do not form steam. All the nesting matters in them, starting from the construction of the nest and ending with the upbringing of the chicks, fall exclusively to the female. The most delicate materials of both animal and plant origin are used to construct the nest. Outside, the nest is masked by a cobweb or moss. As a rule, a nest settles down on a branch, often in its fork, it can hang on a sheet of palm tree or attach to a small ledge of a rock.

There is a known case when a hummingbird flew into the room where the drug worked, and dragged cotton wool from him for its nest. Another hummingbird built a nest in a living room with a hanging lamp.

The size of hummingbird nests varies, depending on the size of the birds, from half a walnut to almost the size of a baby's head. Sometimes the nests are very deep, so the brooding bird literally drowns in the nest, sticking out only its beak and tail.

Clutch in almost all cases consists of 2 eggs, very rarely there is only 1 egg. Eggs are elliptical, white. In the smallest species, an egg weighs 2 mg. Chicks hatch blind and naked and then immediately fledge, not putting on, even for a short time, a downy outfit. The duration of incubation is 14-19 days, and the stay of the chicks in the nest is 19-25 days. Sometimes it happens that while the parents are busy searching for food, the chicks lose too much heat, become lethargic and even become numb. However, a mother arriving with food slows down the chicks, feeds them almost by force, and thus brings them back to life.

The male, although he does not take part in nesting and incubation, nevertheless zealously guards the territory occupied by him and energetically drives away all undesirable aliens.

There are 338 species in the hummingbird family (in addition, 1 fossil species is known), united in 116 genera. With a large external variety of species, the hummingbird family should be recognized as quite homogeneous, homogeneous. The hummingbird origin is likely to be the Upper Pleistocene.

Many species of hummingbirds are still very poorly studied. Some species are known only in a few instances. Worth mentioning is the previously mentioned beak-billed hummingbird (Ensifera ensifera). This is a large hummingbird, generally green, with a very long (8-10 cm) beak. Its length is equal to the length of the body of the bird, measured from the base of the beak to the end of the tail. In the female, the beak is somewhat longer than in the male.

This hummingbird inhabits the Andes from Venezuela to Northern Bolivia. A long beak allows him to get to the nectar of large tubular flowers of various nightshade. When resting, the beak hummingbird keeps its beak directed straight up. During the flight, the beak has a horizontal position, directed forward.

Ruby-throated hummingbird (Archilochus colubris) - one of the smallest species of the family - belongs to the east of North America and is very widespread there. To the north, its range reaches southern Canada. This bird is green above, grayish-white below, the color of the throat of a male is ruby.

These are migratory birds flying for the winter to the territory from southern Mexico to Panama. Their path from nesting in Labrador to wintering sites is 4,000-5,000 km. During the flights, some birds cross vast expanses of the Gulf of Mexico, fly to Florida and Cuba. Separate specimens were met "lost" in Bermuda, that is, 1100 km from the mainland.

Hummingbird Sappho (Sappho sparganura) is common in southern Bolivia and Northwest Argentina. It adheres to the dry open landscape of the foothills and the high plateau of the Bolivian Andes. His head and front of his body are brilliant green, his back is purple-violet, his long, forked tail is red, with black ends of each feather. When a bird soars upward with great ease, its “burning” tail gives the impression of a comet trail. Due to excessive persecution, this bird is now very rare.

Hummingbird angel (Heliomaster furcifer) is a highly motley colored bird. Her throat is dull scarlet, the rest of the bottom is brilliant blue, blue feathers in the form of a collar appear on the sides of the throat, the lower tail coverts are green. Top of the head is salad color. Each feather is bordered by a dark border and gives the impression of a scale. Hummingbird Angel lives in Brazil and Northern Argentina.

Long-tailed hummingbird (Phaethornis superciliosus) inhabits Central and South America. The central pair of tail feathers in this bird is very elongated, the protruding part of these feathers is white. Long-tailed hummingbirds nests at the ends of tree leaves hanging down.

Topaz hummingbird (Topaza pella) is characteristic of the northeast of South America. In contrast to most other hummingbirds that inhabit low-lying rainforests, relatively modestly colored, topaz hummingbirds have an exceptionally bright coloring. He has a light green throat, a blue top and sides of the head, a light ruby ​​belly, greenish lower covering wings, purple tail feathers, 2 of which are very elongated. This bird is kept preferably in lush forests along the banks of large rivers or along the banks of quiet lagoons, where it hunts low over the water for flying insects. In the afternoon she hides from the heat in the shade of tall trees. The nest usually suits on vegetation hanging over the water, in the interweaving of vines. In such places one can sometimes see whole colonies of breeding females. Previously common in these places, topaz hummingbirds became very rare due to excessive persecution for the perfect plumage.

The rocket-tailed hummingbird (Loddigesia mirabilis) is one of the smallest hummingbirds found in the high valley of Peru at an altitude of about 900 m. For several years it was known only by one specimen. In 1880, he was found in yet another mountain valley, and he was never met again. This hummingbird is predominantly green, with a purple top and a blue nape. He has only 4 steering feathers. Their extreme pair is elongated, for the greater extent the rods of these feathers are devoid of webs and resemble wires, and only at the very end of the webs expand in the form of purple flags with a metallic tint. These 1 feathers are curved and cross each other.

Hummingbirds (Trochilidae (Vigors, 1825)) - a family of small birds, the only one in the hummingbird order (Latin Trochiliformes). More than 330 species are known. Come from America (from South Alaska and Labrador to Tierra del Fuego). The only bird in the world that can fly backwards. / (Wikipedia)