Hummingbirds are some of evolution's most amazing creations, with 338 known species that span the Americas. They range in size from the bee hummingbird, with a weight of just 2g and measuring 5cm long, to the giant hummingbird, weighing up to 24g. These spectacularly colourful creatures seem to inhabit a different time dimension to us, and operate at incredible speeds.
"Hummers" can flap their wings at up to 80 times per second, fly at over 50km/hr and dive at almost 80km/hr. They need to be quick, light and agile to evade predators and are the only bird that can fly backwards. Their need to keep body fat to an absolute minimum, combined with their high metabolisms means that they also need to drink nectar almost all day long. While drinking, their tongues dart in and out, pumping nectar into their mouths over 15 times per second. Unusually for animals with such high metabolisms, they can live for up to 10 years.
The clip below features the bee hummingbird, the smallest bird on Earth:
Featuring photos by South America's hummingbird specialists: bogotabirding.com