The word for hummingbird in most other European languages is colibri. I can’t find an explanation for why English didn’t adopt that. I put out a feeder with a 1:4 solution of sugar : water, and once they find it hummingbirds come for a drink every 15 minutes for the entire day. Here are photos of one frequent visitor:

Sometimes they perch, and sometimes they maintain a hover while drinking. They get a little territorial about the feeder, even though it has four perches and flowers to drink from: when one hummingbird is at the feeder, often another will approach and provoke it and they’ll flit away rapidly spiraling around each other.

Hummingbird species encompass not only the smallest birds but also the smallest warm-blooded animals. During the day they maintain the highest metabolism of any vertebrate. This requires a nearly constant supply of sugar. (At night, when they can’t feed, they perch and enter a hibernation-like state of vastly reduced metabolism called torpor.)

In terms of flying skills, they can keep their head perfectly still in a hover, even as their wings are fluttering back and forth dozens of times a second. I have seen them hovering at the feeder in the heavy winds preceding a thunderstorm. In the morning and evening I can see hummingbirds hovering and swooping to eat tiny flying insects.

No other vertebrates can maintain a true hover in flight, and the size range for hummingbirds runs from 2g to 20g. This suggests that any smaller and an endoskeleton and/or homeothermic metabolism becomes too expensive for a hovering animal. Any heavier and it becomes too difficult for a biological system to process and supply the energy needed to hover.

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