The 300 species of hummingbirds vary in size from the giant hummingbird, with a length of about eight inches (20 cm.), to the bee hummingbird, with a length of about two inches (5 cm.). The hummingbird can swivel its wings through an amazing degree of angles, and its wings beat a figure eight pattern which allows it to hover and fly backwards (by moving the wings in a circular path over its head), sideways, and even upside down.
Its long, thin beak is designed to feed on the nectar of flowers; its tongue has two furrows that it uses to store the nectar. The tongue can go in and out at a rate of 13 times per second, and is stored by being curled up at the back of the bird’s head. Its tongue is also fringed so it can sweep insects from inside flowers.
The Anna’s Hummingbird is the fastest bird on earth. When he power dives from 90 feet above the ground, in his effort to impress the female, the male hummingbird experiences more than nine times the force of gravity, reaching a relative speed of 385 body-lengths per second, which is twice that of a jet fighter on afterburners or the space shuttle entering earth’s atmosphere. The ruby-throated hummingbird flies non-stop 450 miles across the Gulf of Mexico in 20 hours, beating its tiny wings nearly 3 million times on that amazing journey.
(Friday Church News Notes, January 11, 2013, www.wayoflife.org, email@example.com, 866-295-4143)