Hummingbirds are small birds, often with brightly colored, iridescent feathers, known for how quickly they fly from place to place. On average, the hummingbird flaps its wings up to 80 times per second. This rapid movement creates a slightly humming sound, which is the reason it is called a hummingbird. There are approximately 300 species of hummingbirds, and 12 of these species spend their summers in North America.
Hummingbirds are the only birds that can fly backwards, but they can also fly sideways, forward, up, down and even upside down. They can also hover by moving their wings in a figure-eight motion. The hummingbird does not use its feet for anything besides perching.
The hummingbird mainly feeds on flower nectar, tree sap and pollen, but some species also eat insects. They have a long, tapered beak that is used to get nectar from tubular flowers or other hard-to-reach areas. Because these birds have such a high breathing rate, high body temperature and fast heartbeat, around 1,260 beats per minute, they need to eat a lot and often. Hummingbirds do, however, have the ability to go into an almost hibernation-like state to conserve energy when resources are low.
Like many other birds, hummingbirds communicate using visual displays and are known to be very territorial. Female hummingbirds have a gestation period of 13 to 22 days and lay between one to three eggs. The average lifespan for this bird is four years.