Baby hummingbirds food

The Gift of Caring for Baby Hummingbirds

One writer learns that this task is anything but a burden. 

By Sy Montgomery

March-April 2013


By Sy Montgomery

March-April 2013

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Anna's Hummingbird feeds chicks in nest (Calypte anna).  Irvine, California Photo: Photo by Hal Beral

When they were found, the infants were nearly dead. Hatching from eggs the size of Navy beans, they were bumblebee size, pink, naked, and blind. That’s when my friend Brenda Sherburn, who specializes in raising orphaned baby hummingbirds, received a call. I flew from New Hampshire to California to help.

Even for a mother hummingbird, raising nestlings is a daunting job. She leaves the nest up to 200 times a day to gather food. For a human, raising baby hummingbirds is a positively Herculean task—as I soon found out.

Every 20 minutes, from dawn to dark, the babies need food. That means catching hundreds of fruit flies a day, freezing them, crushing them with mortar and pestle, and mixing the mush with special nectar supplemented with vitamins, enzymes, and oils in precise combination. The mixture spoils easily. If it does, it can kill the baby birds.

In fact, it seems everything can kill them. In the wild, yellow jackets can sting them to death. Hawks, jays, roadrunners, opossums, even dragonflies eat them. They can die of cold. They can die of heat. They will certainly die if left alone. But an inept surrogate mother can kill them easily, too, as Brenda explained.

Carefully she showed me how to fill a syringe and thread a thin catheter down the babies’ throats. I was petrified. Nothing seems as delicate as a baby hummingbird: You can damage their feathers by touching them; their feet are thin as thread. I feared I would hurt their mouths. I feared they’d choke on their food. But even worse can happen, Brenda told me: “If you overfeed them,” she said, “they can actually pop.”

If you miss a feeding, they can starve. Brenda set a timer so there was no risk we’d forget. For weeks, inch-and-a-half-long baby birds ruled our days.

Brenda is a professional artist, but she couldn’t work on her sculptures or pastels. Nor could I write. In the 20-minute snippets between feedings, we could never fit in a workout at the gym or a long phone call to a friend. Before breakfast, one of us ground coffee beans, the other did fruit flies. We gulped lunch. We interrupted each dinner at least twice to feed the little birds.

“Everything stops for the hummingbirds,” Brenda told me. That’s why it’s so hard to find volunteers to care for them. Could I commit to such a schedule? I wondered.

The next morning, I watched one of the babies stretch a membranous wing to preen. Tissue paper is armor in comparison. And then, before my astonished eyes, the tiny creature stood up in its nest and whirred its wings with concentrated ferocity. How can this bird summon a resting heartbeat of 500 times a minute, revving to 1,500 times a minute when, one day, God willing, this gossamer being conquers the sky?

Then, I understood: Not only could I do this, but it was an honor I’d cherish.

When the Spanish first encountered hummingbirds (they live only in the New World) they called them Resurrection Birds—for surely something this shining and perfect died each night and was reborn the next morning.

This names the gift that working with these nestlings gave to me. They allowed me a hand in resurrection. If they lived, they would go on to even greater miracles. These nestlings proved to be Allen’s hummingbirds. The adult males of this tiny species perform a nuptial flight that, in terms of body lengths covered per second, bests the speed of the Space Shuttle as it screams toward earth through the atmosphere.   

But all birds, of course, are miracles, and humans have known this for millennia. We have looked to birds as oracles. Our hearts soar on their wings and their songs. Even the tiniest bird can teach us that life is larger than humankind alone.

So each time our timer buzzed, signaling another feeding, I came to understand that life wasn’t stopping for the hummingbirds; each feeding instead offered a chance to begin life anew. This is the lesson birds teach us. Every day, we can witness miracles. Each day, we can participate in resurrection, in mending the broken world.

What Do Baby Hummingbirds Eat?

by Melanie

No other species encapsulates the phrase “tiny but mighty” quite as well as hummingbirds. While marveling at the small size of these birds, it often leads us to think about just how small their nest must be. And those tiny eggs! And itty bitty babies! Since we don’t see them at our hummingbird feeders, what do baby hummingbirds eat?

Newborn Hummingbirds

After a female hummingbird has been impregnated by the male, she is on her own to construct the nest and raise the young. It will take a female about a week to construct her tiny cup shaped nest. Nests are made from moss, lichen, plant fibers, bits of bark and leaves, and spiderweb silk. Usually two eggs are laid, but sometimes only one. If two chicks are hatched, chances of survival increase because they can help to keep each other warm while mother is off the nest catching food. 

Hummingbird babies are very tiny. They weigh less than one gram and are only about 2 centimeters long. When first born their eyes remain closed and they have no feathers. It will be about two weeks before their eyes begin to open and feathers start to grow.  

The length of time until babies leave the nest varies slightly between species. Overall, most hummingbird babies leave the nest about three weeks after hatching. 

How do baby hummingbirds eat

Hummingbirds have a special sac in their throat called a crop. The crop is basically a pocket in the esophagus where food can be stored. Adults can use this to gather extra food to save for later. Food in the crop has to be released down to the stomach to actually be eaten and digested. A handy feature on days when food may be hard to find. Female hummingbirds can also use their crop to gather food to feed their babies. 

For many days after hatching, the young hummingbirds eyes remain closed. Listening for chirps, feeling vibrations in the nest made by her landing or in the air from her wings, are all ways the babies can sense when their mother is near. When they sense her, they will poke their heads up out of the nest and open their mouths to receive food. 

When the babies open their mouth to beg for food, mom will insert her beak into their mouth and expel the contents of her crop into their throat. The food in the crop has not made it to her stomach and therefore remains undigested at the time of feeding.  

What do baby hummingbirds eat

Baby hummingbirds eat small insects and nectar, fed to them by their mother. Feedings will happen on average 2-3 times per hour.  The percentage of insects versus nectar fed to the young can vary by species and by habitat. However it is important to feed as many insects as possible. During the babies growth and development they need a lot of nutrients, proteins and fats that nectar alone cannot provide. 

Small spiders are one of hummingbirds favorite insects to catch. Hummingbirds will also eat mosquitoes, gnats, fruit flies, ants, aphids and mites. They can use their long bill and tongue to pluck insects off branches and leaves. They also are very skilled at catching insects mid-air, a practice called “hawking”.  

As the young get older and have left the nest, the mother may continue to help feed them for another 1-2 weeks. While also helping to teach them how to find their own food of course. Check out our article on how to feed insects to hummingbirds to help provide food for the hummers in your yard.

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What to do with abandoned baby hummingbirds

Every nature lovers fear, finding an abandoned baby bird. It’s a very difficult and delicate thing to care for a baby hummingbird. Sadly even the most well intentioned people can end up trying and failing to save a bird that didn’t need saving. To avoid causing harm, let’s first discuss how to tell if a nest has truly been abandoned. Then we will list advice from the San Diego Humane Society’s Project Wildlife on how to care for baby hummingbirds while finding professional help.

How to tell if a hummingbird nest has been abandoned

Most concern comes from seeing babies in a nest with no parent in sight. When babies are newly hatched and have no feathers, the mother needs to sit on the nest consistently to keep the chicks warm. However once the chicks have begun to grow their own feathers (about 10-12 days post hatch), this changes drastically.

The babies are now able to keep themselves warm, and she doesn’t need to sit on the nest. In fact, she will often stay away from the nest the majority of the time (day and night) to avoid catching the attention of potential predators. Mom visits the nest for a few seconds to feed the young and is then off again. These feeding visits can last for mere seconds. Typically this occurs a few times an hour but in some circumstances the time between visits may be as long as an hour or more. 

You can see how a concerned nest watcher could easily miss seeing these quick feedings and believe that the mother is no longer coming back. You need to watch a nest for two hours consistently before making a determination if the adult is coming back. 

Also, don’t be fooled by silent babies. If you are under the impression that quiet babies that aren’t chirping means they are ill, think again. Staying silent is another defense hummingbirds have against predators, they don’t want to attract the wrong kind of attention. They will often peep and chirp when mom comes by to feed them, but quickly go silent again until her return. In fact, hummingbird babies that are constantly making sounds for ten or more minutes without a parent in sight might indicate they are in distress.  

If you find a hatchling hummingbird

A hatchling is newly born (0-9 days old), and will have gray/black skin with no sign of feathers, or only pin-feathers which are not fluffy and look like little tubes. 

  • Don’t try and feed these babies, call for help asap
  • Try and keep the baby in the nest
  • If a nest isn’t available line a small container with tissue and keep the baby warm by keeping them near a heat producing lamp. 
  • Watch out for overheating, if the baby is open-mouth breathing or stretching it’s neck out it is too warm, reduce heat. 

If you find a nestling hummingbird

Nestlings are 10-15 days old. They will be able to open their eyes a little and appear to have some feathers. As we discussed above, this begins the period of time where mom will be away from the nest most of the time. She will return for a few seconds to feed the babies at least once an hour, often more. Watch the nest for two hours straight before determining she is not returning.  

  • If fallen from the nest, pick them up carefully and return them to the nest. If the nest appears overrun with insects such as ants that might be harming the babies, construct an artificial nest and place it nearby. 
  • After putting baby birds back in the nest, watch to make sure the mother is returning to feed them
  • If it has been determined the nest is abandoned, sugar water (nectar) can be fed until a rehabber can take the birds. Use a dropper to drop three drops into the baby’s mouth every 30 minutes. Any nectar spilled on the birds must be wiped up immediately or their feathers will become too sticky and matted. Do no feed nectar for longer than 72 hours. 

If you find a pre-fledgling hummingbird

Pre-fledglings  (16+ days old) have their full feathers and are just about ready to leave the nest. They are beginning to explore and are often found on the ground having fallen out of the nest. If you can see the nest, place them back inside and watch for mom’s return.

  • If abandoned, you can feed 5 drops of nectar every 30 minutes until a rehabber can take them.
  • Any nectar dripped on the birds will need to be wiped off
  • Do not feed nectar for more than 72 hours

In all cases you are doing emergency care for the bird while trying to find a local rehabber who can either give you professional advice or take the bird for care. It is important to let trained professionals rear these young birds. Here are some links that may help you find rehabbers near you. These lists are not often kept up to date however and an internet search of “wildlife rehab + your state” or checking your state government’s department of wildlife page might yield better results. 

  • Wildlife Rehabilitator US Directory
  • Wildlife Rescue Groups
  • Locating Wildlife Rehabilitators by State


Baby hummingbirds aren’t able to hunt for their own food until they are about a 3-4 weeks old. In the meantime, mom keeps them fed with a combination of small insects and nectar, just like she eats. She will feed them by regurgitating food stored in her crop. Once the babies have grown their own feathers, they spend most of their time alone, quietly snoozing in their nest while mom only visits to drop off some food. Make sure you are quite certain a nest is abandoned before intervening on the birds behalf. If needed, feed regular hummingbird nectar while contacting a wildlife rehabilitator. 

About Melanie

Melanie has been a birding hobbyist for years and loves feeding and photographing birds of all types.


Hummingbird. Winged Chameleon - Young Naturalist


In Brazil, there are many butterflies and beetles that are larger than hummingbirds. The smallest weight of these birds is 1.64 grams. Many weigh 2-4 grams. There are more. The largest species of hummingbirds are about the size of our swallow.

Hummingbird plumage is unusually bright and is said to be unstable. Indeed. Let's take our handsome goldfinch. No matter how you look at it, it always has a red spot around its beak, a black cap, and a yellow stripe on the wing. Not like the hummingbird. If you look at it in the sun - one thing, against the sun - another. You look from beak to tail - one color, from tail to beak - another. And when a hummingbird flies, its color changes all the time. This changing color is called iridescent. It's all about which side the pen is lit from.

Hummingbird is a bird of the air. He spends most of the day flying. And his flight is unique. When a crow flies, it holds its body horizontally, quietly flapping its wings from top to bottom. But the hummingbird usually "hangs" in the air. At the same time, its torso is almost vertical, and the wings flap from front to back, describing an elongated figure-eight with the tip and constantly turning around its axis: either the upper side of the wing becomes lower, then the lower side becomes upper.

Wing speed is amazing. In some hummingbirds, it reaches 30 strokes per second, in others - 50. And during the mating flight, the frequency of strokes rises to 100. They tried to calculate the angular velocity of the hummingbird's wing - it turned out that it is very close to the speed of the aircraft propeller.

A lot of energy is needed for such a flight. The pectoral muscles that control flight in hummingbirds are very large. The keel of the sternum, to which they are attached, is also large.

The albatross and petrel are considered excellent fliers. They follow the ship for hours at sea and do not get tired. However, the pectoral muscles of these sea giants and the keel of the sternum cannot be compared with hummingbirds. And why?

Albatross hovering in the air. It uses wind power and hardly flaps its wings. Why does he need strong muscles? And a hummingbird in flight completely depends only on itself: know, work with wings, but stronger.

And the heart is working at high speeds.

All birds have a very high pulse. In sparrows, the heart beats up to 460 times per minute. But where does he care about the hummingbird. In addition, according to some scientists, the pulse is 1000 times per minute. This, of course, is a record.

It is known that the blood of birds is very warm, one might say, hot. For example, in a thrush it is +44.5 ° C. What should be the temperature of a hummingbird if it performs such a significant work in flight? And here we meet with an interesting phenomenon. It turns out that not all is well with the body temperature of the hummingbird. When there is a lot of food, the bird is constantly in motion and her body temperature is high.

Well, what if there is not enough food?

Let's see what observations of hummingbirds in captivity have shown. Hummingbirds eat a lot, twice as much as they weigh themselves. In captivity, birds weighing 2.5 grams are given 5 grams of sugar syrup, and the bird drinks it in a day. Still, she needs "fuel", and more. But now the hummingbird has not received the necessary food, it becomes lethargic, stops flying, sinks to the floor, shrinks into a ball, covering its tiny body with tiny wings, and falls into a stupor.

Similar is observed in nature. More than once in the mountain caves of Peru, numb hummingbirds were found, convulsively clinging to the rock with their legs. Their body temperature was slightly higher than the air temperature of the cave.

But if the birds are kept in an aviary, they can be picked up, warmed with breath, given plenty of food, and the hummingbirds will quickly return to their normal state.

An interesting picture is observed in hummingbirds and when feeding chicks. The bird's nest is very small, deep, warm. Sometimes it is placed on the tip of a large sheet. Hummingbirds do not form pairs, they are polygamous birds. The male builds one nest for himself and is not at all interested in offspring.

It happens that the female sometimes collects food for the chicks for a long time, and when she arrives at the nest, they are already frozen. Like adult birds, babies fall into a stupor without food. This never happens to our birds. Take glory. When the parents arrive with food, the chicks open their mouths wide, squeak, reach for the beaks of their parents, and demand food. And parents feed such chicks willingly. And the chick calmed down, froze, the parents simply throw out such a “suffocate” from the nest. But such "suffocations" are very rare in our birds. Hummingbirds do it all the time. And he does not throw them away, but seeks to warm them, tries to feed the half-stupefied chicks. Hummingbirds live in America: in North and South. There are also in the Antilles. Only in Colombia and Ecuador, more than 130 species of hummingbirds are known, and in total science knows 319types. Hummingbirds are much smaller in North America. But still they reach north to Alaska (only 2 species) and to Newfoundland.

Some species of hummingbirds are very widespread. But there are also those that occupy very small areas. It happens that a species occupies only one mountain and is not found anywhere else. Hummingbirds are common where there are plants that they feed on. Few of them means that the area on which the species of hummingbird associated with it lives is also very small.

And what do birds feed on? What do they take from the plant? The main thing that hummingbirds eat is the nectar of flowers. They also collect small insects and spiders. At the same time, hummingbirds do not sit on flowers, but feed on the fly. They seem to "hang" in flight in front of the flower.

The beak of most hummingbirds is long, no less long tongue is folded into a tube at the end, and, sucking nectar with force, the bird directs it directly into the duodenum. Coarse food enters the stomach - insects and spiders.

Hummingbirds have one more interesting feature. They usually lay two eggs. But somehow, from our point of view, it is stupid: one egg, say, today, another in a few days. And it turns out that a chick is hatched from the first egg, and the second is useless, the embryo in it freezes, as the bird begins to fly for food for the first chick, and the egg is thrown. But it happens that two chicks are hatched.

Catching a hummingbird is very difficult. Keeping in an aviary is even more difficult. We have never had a hummingbird in the Moscow Zoo.

N. Gladkov, Doctor of Biological Sciences,

Magazine "Young Naturalist", 1965, No. 5

Tags: hummingbird

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Hummingbird family | it's... What is the hummingbird family?

"Among all other creatures, hummingbirds are undoubtedly the most beautiful in body structure and magnificent plumage. Precious stones and metals, to which man gives a special brilliance with his art, cannot be compared with these living semi-precious stones. These small birds should definitely be considered exemplary works of nature. She rewarded them with all her gifts, while distributing them only one by one to other birds. This tiny favorite got everything: lightness, speed, dexterity, the charm of movements and rich outfit. Her plumage glitters with emeralds, yachts, topazes, and it never stains it with earthly dust, because during its entire ethereal life it only accidentally touches the earth, it constantly rushes through the air, flies from flower to flower and, feeding on their juices, competes with them in the brilliance and freshness of colors. live only in those countries where plants bloom all year, and those species of this family that fly in summer in the temperate zone, they remain there for a very short time.
They seem to follow the sun, moving north and south with it, and on the wings of a marshmallow following the ever-renewing spring. these lovely birds are admired with him. "Everyone will stop," says Audubon, "struck with admiration, when he sees one of these wonderful little creatures, when it, rustling its wings, cuts through the air, is supported on it, as it were with the help of magical power, or flies from a flower to a flower, sparkling like a piece of a rainbow, as charming as this light phenomenon. "-" A hummingbird, - says Waterton, - can be called a real bird of paradise: it rushes through the air with the speed of thought, then it is at arm's length from a human face, then disappears in a moment and suddenly reappears and flutters from one flower to another. Sometimes it looks like a ruby, sometimes like a topaz, then it shines like an emerald or sparkles like polished gold." - "On the whole globe," says Burmeister, "there is no family of birds that could compare even though in some relation to this remarkable and varied group of American birds. It is necessary to observe these wonderful creatures alive in their own country in order to fully understand the beauty of these creatures."
The size of hummingbirds fluctuates quite widely, as some of them are as tall as a small flycatcher, while others are no larger than a bumblebee. The body is for the most part elongated, or at least seems to be so, as the tail is almost always long; in those species that have a poorly developed tail, a dense and strong physique immediately catches the eye. Their beak is awl-shaped, thin, long, pointed at the end, straight or slightly bent, sometimes the same length as the head, sometimes longer, sometimes equal in length to the body, and occasionally even longer than it. Hummingbird legs are unusually small and delicate. The metatarsus is sometimes feathered, but the plumage is hardly noticeable, it fits so tightly to the body. The fingers are either completely separate, or at the base connected by membranes; they are covered with short shields; claws extremely sharp, thin and almost the same length, or longer than the fingers themselves.
The wings are very long, mostly narrow and slightly bent in the form of a sickle.
The first flight feather is always longer than the others, its trunk is thicker than that of other feathers, and is also remarkable in that the lower part of it, at least in some species, is very extended. In the carpal part of the wing there are 9, more often 10 primary feathers, and on the ulnar part there are only 6. The tail always consists of 10 feathers, but its shape is very diverse. Many species have a forked tail, and the outer feathers are much longer than the average, in some species exceeding them by six times or more; in others, the outer feathers are only slightly longer than the middle feathers. It often happens that the tail feathers are quite poorly developed, so that they can be called needles rather than feathers. It is often noticed that although the tail is forked, the outer feathers are rounded and their tips form arcs. In some, finally, the tail is simply rounded, and then the middle feathers are the longest. The plumage is rather firm and, in comparison with the size of the bird, is very thick; there are almost no fluffy feathers in it, and it does not cover the whole body evenly, and in some places the feathers are elongated. So, for example, some hummingbirds have large or small tufts on their heads, while others have feathers on their necks that form a collar or something like a beard under the lower jaw. The eyes are always surrounded by a fairly wide bare ringlet. Small scaly feathers grow on the edges of the eyelids instead of eyelashes. The plumage is different in age and sex, and this difference is noticed not only in color, but also in special decorating feathers.
At present, we are still too little familiar with the way of life of hummingbirds to point out the differences that exist in this respect between individual species of these birds. All the biographies compiled so far refer more or less to all hummingbirds in general. I will try here to summarize everything known to me about these birds, but I consider it necessary to first describe the main species in somewhat more detail. It would be in vain to try to give readers a fairly complete idea of ​​the richness of the forms of this family of birds. The lack of space inevitably forces me to a certain brevity, and therefore it makes absolutely no difference whether I describe many or few individual hummingbirds, which are now divided into 70 genera and about 400 species *. Whoever wants to get to know hummingbirds in more detail should take up the study of Gould's special essay on them or Reichenbach's detailed German zoology. In the first of these works, all species are not only depicted, but also described, and in the second one can find at least images of most of these beautiful birds.

* Now taxonomists distinguish 112-116 genera and 312-320 species of hummingbirds

The generally understood division of hummingbirds into groups and genera is rather difficult. This is not only due to the sheer number of species and the lack of familiarity with them, but also due to the small stature of these birds, which makes it difficult to accurately determine differences based on age and sex.

Topaz hummingbird (Topaza pella)
Eagle-billed hummingbird (Eutoxeres aqaila) and its relatives are distinguished mainly by their crescent-shaped, rather thick beak and wedge-shaped tail. The described species has a green color on the upper part of the body, and brownish-black below. Dark grayish-yellow longitudinal spots are noticed on the throat, whitish on the chest; the upper part of the head and a small tuft are brownish-black, on the back of the head and on the rump the feathers have a brown border; flight feathers are purple-brown; the last small flight feathers with white spots at the end, the tail feathers are brilliant dark green in color, their ends are white, and the very tips are blackish. The white border of the tail becomes wider towards the sides. The upper part of the beak is black, the lower part is almost completely yellowish. This bird lives in Bogota (Colombia).

Eagle-billed hummingbird (Eutoxeres aqiila)
One of the most magnificent species of hummingbird is Andean mountain star (Oreotrochilus chimhorazo). The male has a brilliant violet-blue head and throat, a grayish-olive-brown back, a white belly, and light brown on the sides. In the middle of the throat shield is an elongated triangular spot of metallic green color, which is separated from the white abdomen by a velvety black stripe. The flight feathers are purple-brown, the middle tail feathers are dark green, in other tail feathers the outer part of the fan is greenish-black, and the inner part is white; beak and legs are black. The female is olive-green above, olive-brown below, the feathers here have light edges, and therefore the plumage of the abdomen seems to be wavy mottled. The breast of the female is white, but the tip of each feather is light brown. The middle tail feathers are a brilliant dark green, the rest are light greenish-brown, and white at the base. The three outer tail feathers on each side have a white spot at the end of the inner web. Body length 12.5 cm, tail 6 cm. This bird was found only on Chimboras, at an altitude of 4000-5000 meters. Related species live on other peaks of the Andes.
Topaz hummingbird (Topaza pella) can compete with all other hummingbirds in the splendor of its plumage. The crown and stripe surrounding the throat are velvety black, the body is copper-red, turning into garnet-red with a golden tint; the throat is golden, in one light cast emerald-green, in another - topaz-yellow. The tail cover feathers are green, the flight feathers are reddish-brown, the inner ones are rusty, the middle tail feathers are green, the ones following them, which are 8 cm longer than them, are chestnut, and the outer ones are reddish-brown. The female is mostly green with a reddish throat, and her coloration is less brilliant than that of the male. The length of this hummingbird, due to protruding tail feathers, is more than 20 cm.
The topaz hummingbird seems to inhabit Guiana alone*, he lives on the shady banks of the rivers. The second, very similar species lives in the upper reaches of the Amazon.

* Topaz hummingbird also found in Ecuador, Venezuela and eastern Brazil.

The best-known related species is the black-eared fairy hummingbird or eared hummingbird (Heliothrix aurita). Its back and sides are bright green, in adult birds with a golden tint, flight feathers are blackish-gray with a purple tint; the lower part of the body is pure white, the three outer tail feathers on each side are also white, while the middle tail feathers are a brilliant blue-steel color.
A velvety-black stripe begins under the eyes, which, going backwards, expands and forms a bluish-steel-colored border at the end. The male has a very long tail and its outer feathers are much shorter than the others. The female is distinguished by a short, wide and rounded tail at the end, all feathers of which are of the same length. The body length of the male is 15 cm, that of the female is 11 cm, the tail length of the male is 6.5 cm, that of the female is 2.8 cm. throughout the forested coastline of eastern South America south to Rio de Janeiro. In Guiana it is replaced by a very similar species; other species live in the west of South America**.

* * Now only 2 species are distinguished in this genus. The black-eared hummingbird described in the text inhabits the Amazon basin.

Which species is the most beautiful - it's hard to say they are all lovely. For description I will choose the magnificent elf (Lophornis ornata). The body of this hummingbird is covered with bronze-green feathers, the elongated tuft feathers are reddish-brown; a narrow white stripe runs along the back of the back; the anterior part of the head near the beak is green with a strong metallic sheen. The collar feathers, which gradually increase upwards, are light red-brown in color with shiny green tips. Flight feathers are dark purple-brown, tail feathers are dark red-brown.

Splendid Elf (Lophornis ornata)
Meat red beak with brown tip. In the female, all colors are duller and there is no tuft, collar and shiny spot near the beak at all.
Horned Hummingbird (Heliactin cormita) Copper green, not very shiny; the upper part of the head is bluish-steel; the supraorbital lobes are multicolored and change from outside to inside from violet to green, yellow, orange and red. The throat and front of the neck and cheeks are velvety black; the lower part of the neck, belly, tail and side tail feathers are white; flight feathers are grey.

Horned hummingbird (Heliactin cor nut a)
Female lacks supraocular lobes and cervical shield. Her throat is rusty yellow; on the outer white tail feathers there is a black stripe near the middle. The beak is black. The body length is 12 cm, the wing length is 5.3 cm, and the tail is 5-6 cm. According to Burmeister, this beautiful hummingbird is very common in the grassy steppes of the interior of the province of Minas Gerais (Brazil).
Underweed flag (Ocreatus underwoodi) has a copper-green upper body, belly, flanks and undercoverts, bright emerald gold throat and upper neck, purple-brown flight feathers, brown tail feathers, plates at the ends of the outer tail feathers are black with a greenish tint.

Underwid's flagman (Ocreatus underwoodi)
Body length 15 cm, wings 4. 5 cm, tail 9 cm. Female copper-green above, white below with green spots. The lower tail coverts are brownish, the tail feathers are almost the same length and have white spots at the end. This beautiful bird is found in the northern part of South America from Brazil to Venezuela and lives here both on the shores of the sea and on mountains up to 2000 meters in height *.

* This species lives in the Andes.

The giant hummingbird (Patagona gigas) is about the size of our swift. The upper part of the body is pale brown with a green tint, the lower part is reddish brown, the uppertail is grayish yellow; head, forechest and back covered with dark thin wavy stripes. Flight feathers are dark brown, tail feathers have the same color, but with a green tint; body length 21 cm. This rather conspicuous hummingbird lives in most of the western countries of South America *; in the extreme south of this part of the world, it is a migratory bird that appears at a certain time of the year and then flies away.

Giant hummingbird (Patagona gigas)

* Lives mainly in the Andes, from Ecuador to Chile and western Argentina.

He was met at altitudes of 4000-5000 m above the sea surface.
Sappho hummingbird (Sappho sparganura) on the upper side of the body is carmine-red, the head and underparts are green with a metallic sheen, the throat is light green, very bright, the back of the abdomen is light brown. The flight feathers are purple-brown, the tail feathers are brown, bright orange-red at the base, and the tips are dark black-brown.

Sappho sappho hummingbird (Sappho spargamtra)
Female green above, also green below with gray spots; her tail is shorter and its feathers are pale red. This hummingbird lives in Bolivia.
The Swordbill Hummingbird (Ensifera ensifera) has the largest bill of any hummingbird and is therefore difficult to mix with other birds in this family. The length of the beak is equal to the length of the body, it is slightly bent upwards, somewhat thickened in front of the end, the wings are relatively short and wide, the tail is of medium length and with a notch at the back. The plumage on the upper side is green, the head is copper-red, the underside, throat and middle of the back are bronze-green, the sides are bright light green, behind each eye is a small white spot. Flight feathers are purple-brown, tail feathers are dark brown with a metallic sheen. The beak is black-brown, the legs are yellowish-brown. Body length 22 cm, of which 10 cm fall on the beak, wing length 8 cm, tail 6 cm. The female is paler on the upper side, white with brown spots on the underside. A faint metallic sheen is seen only on the sides; its length is 17 cm, the beak is 8 cm. The sword beak is found in the mountainous countries of Venezuela and Quito. Goering found this bird in Venezuela at altitudes of 2000-3000 meters above the sea surface, on bushes growing under the trees of large forests.

Swordbill Hummingbird (Ensifera ensifera)
Hummingbirds live only in America and more than other birds are characteristic of this part of the world. They are found here wherever flowers can grow, from Sitka to Cape Horn. The North American species of hummingbird is found as far east as Labrador*; western North American species - red-throated hummingbird, or red selasphorus (Selasphonis rufus) appears on the banks of the Columbia River and penetrates even to the Fraser River and the Juan de Fuca Strait.

* This is the common or ruby-throated hummingbird (Archilochus colibri).

These apparently weak birds are found even in Tierra del Fuego. Hummingbirds spread in America not only across all latitudes, but also rise high into the mountains: in the Andes they flutter near the very border of eternal snows, in a belt located between 4000 and 5000 m above the sea surface; they visit the craters of active and extinct volcanoes, where hardly any other vertebrate animal penetrates. Bold naturalists who climbed high mountains for scientific research found hummingbirds incubating their eggs at heights where snowstorms made climbing very difficult and where, according to the naturalist, only condors could be found.
In general, it should be assumed that each country and each locality has its own species of hummingbird. Mountain hummingbirds living at heights almost never leave them and only in case of very bad weather descend to a height of 900-1200 m; the same species that are commonly found in hot valleys, where the wind almost never cools the air, in no case rise to the heights. However, not only individual mountains and valleys, but many forests and steppes, and sometimes even more limited areas, have their own species of hummingbirds.
Already from the different structure of the hummingbird's beak, it can be concluded that almost every species of hummingbird searches only certain flowers and cannot get prey from others. However, some species are not very picky.
Due to the dependence of hummingbirds on flora, it turns out that the tropical countries of America are especially rich in them. According to Wallas, 275 live in the equatorial countries of South America, 100 (partly the same species) in the tropical countries of North America. However, it would be erroneous to assume that hummingbirds prefer lowland forests, where plant life reaches its highest development. The wonderful flowers of these forests are no doubt not neglected, on the contrary, at least at certain times of the year, hummingbirds flutter over them and carefully search them, but the number of species of these birds does not depend on the abundance of flowers, but on their variety. According to recent studies, it should be accepted that the largest number of hummingbird species is found in the mountainous countries of South and Central America.
A particularly favorable country for hummingbirds seems to be Mexico: it is home to more than a fifth of all hitherto known species of these birds, and it can be predicted that when this little explored country is better known, several more will be found there. new species of hummingbird*.

* In fact, Brehm's assumptions are incorrect. About 60 species of hummingbird live in Mexico, while in the equatorial zone of South America there are more than 160.

Mexico combines all favorable conditions for such a variety of forms; it includes all possible climatic conditions, since it contains high mountains, at various heights of which one can constantly find a climate corresponding to all seasons and all belts. The observer visiting this wonderful country is constantly surrounded by fluttering brilliant hummingbirds. He finds them both in hot plains and in snowy heights, where a great abundance of moisture causes the appearance of luxurious tropical vegetation, in those places where the sun-scorched desert produces only one cactus, and even where lava still lies not completely cooled. flowing out of the crater of the volcano. "They adorn," says Gould, "with their inimitable luxury of feathering, the fissures of volcanic rocks, enliven countries where people never look, they give some life to the cold desert. " However, the favorite habitat of hummingbirds, in any case, are meadows with many flowers, flowering prairie bushes and gardens. Here you can see how they rush over the plants, fluttering from flower to flower, and look for prey in them with bees and butterflies sucking the sweet juice from flowers.
It is still not known with accuracy whether those hummingbirds that do not undertake long-distance flights can be considered completely sedentary birds. It can be assumed that no species lives constantly all year in one locality; they all fly from place to place, depending on the season, and mainly on the time of flowering of various plants, so that, except for the nesting period, they constantly wander. All observers who have lived in one place for a long time unanimously confirm that they saw certain types of hummingbirds only at certain times of the year. In all likelihood, all hummingbirds more or less wander from place to place. The birds that live on the heights are compelled at certain times of the year to descend into the valleys in search of prey, while those that live in places where eternal spring reigns, i. e. the vegetation is constantly renewed and flowers can be found all year round, yet they roam from place to place, depending on where there are more flowering plants.
These movements, however, cannot be called real flights. Only those species that live in the northern and southern temperate zone regularly migrate. They appear there, like swallows with us, stay all summer, build nests, hatch their young, and when the cold season sets in, they fly back to warm countries.
If you want to study the life of these birds, then first of all you need to get acquainted with their flight: it, so to speak, determines their whole life and completely characterizes hummingbirds. Not a single bird flies like them, and therefore, their flight cannot be compared with other birds. “Until I saw them myself,” Saussure says, “I could not imagine that a bird could move its wings so quickly as hummingbirds do. They rush through the air, moving forward with lightning speed, then holding on to one place. Their flight is of two kinds: firstly, moving forward with the speed of an arrow, and secondly, hovering in one place.It is clear that the last movement requires the greatest effort, because hummingbirds, in order to stay in balance, must move their wings with equal force both up and down. The movement is so fast that the wings finally become completely invisible. "
All other observers describe the flight of the hummingbird in a similar way. “How amazing,” says Gould, “there must be an organization of these birds that enables them to lead and continue the quivering movement of their wings for so long! I believe that this movement cannot be compared with anything else that I have seen so far, and it It seemed to me that it most likely resembled a physical apparatus with a wound spring. This feature of flight made a particularly strong impression on me, since I expected something completely different. This bird does not flap its wings nicely, like a swallow or a swift, but constantly flutters them with amazing speed when flies from flower to flower or flies through the air for a long distance over trees or over a river. When a hummingbird stops near some object, the movements of its wings are so fast that the eye cannot follow their movements, and on the sides of the bird's body you see only foggy semicircle.
According to the existing descriptions, one cannot form a clear idea about the direction of the hummingbird's flight and about the figures that it describes in the air. The speed of movement is so significant and the body of a hummingbird is so small that observations become almost impossible. Audubon states that North American hummingbirds cut through the air in an undulating line, sometimes ascending at an angle of about 40°, and then descend again in an arc; but at the same time he adds that it is absolutely impossible to follow a flying bird more than 50-60 m, even armed with good binoculars.
Looking at them, the thought constantly comes to consider the hummingbird as a feathered butterfly, and this should be understood not in a figurative, but in the literal sense. “At my first steps on the plains of the island of Jamaica,” says Saussure, “I noticed an terrestrial insect that quickly flew to a bush and began to fly from one branch to another. I was amazed at the extraordinary dexterity with which this animal dodged my net, but my surprise increased even more when, having caught it, I noticed that it was not an insect at all, but a bird. In fact, both the appearance and the movements and lifestyle of a hummingbird are exactly the same as those of insects. Other observers were just as wrong as Saussure. Gould for a long time convinced a gentleman who had been to America that he saw a butterfly in front of him in England, and not a hummingbird, and Bethe assures that it was only after a long examination that he managed to distinguish a titanium butterfly, which is found near the Amazon, from a hummingbird. Indians and Negroes, and even some whites, consider titanium and hummingbirds to be the same animal: they have seen the transformation of a caterpillar into a butterfly, and from this they conclude that a butterfly can easily turn into a bird.
But the most surprising thing is that the hummingbirds themselves see some butterflies as rivals. According to Saussure's observations, hummingbirds put up real fights with butterflies, chasing them from flower to flower, rushing at them to drive them away, and often tear their wings. These attacks obviously come from envy, from greed for food, but they are very characteristic of both the pursuers and the pursued. Some observers believe that the external feelings and mental abilities of hummingbirds are almost the same as those of butterflies, but at the same time, they are undoubtedly deceived by the innocent expression of the hummingbird's eyes and the gullibility of these birds. Unusual dexterity and speed of movement give the hummingbird such confidence, which in the highest degree impresses the observer. “As long as the observer remains calm,” says Burmeister, “until then the hummingbird looks at him with bright eyes and shows great calmness, but as soon as you move, the bird immediately disappears.”
When these birds get tired from a long flight, they look for a suitable place in the trees to rest. To do this, they prefer thin dry twigs or those on which there are no leaves for several centimeters; to such branches they constantly return and visit them so regularly that, according to Gundlach, it is most convenient to stop near such a place in order to observe hummingbirds.
The earth is just as alien to them as it is to swallows: here they are completely helpless, since they cannot walk. Despite this, hummingbirds land on the ground, for example when they fly down to get drunk.
According to the long-established opinion, no hummingbird can sing. This appears to be true, but there are a number of observations that suggest otherwise. Prince von Wied says that the voice of a hummingbird consists of barely perceptible quiet sounds, and elsewhere he mentions that he heard a loud but short calling sound from a hummingbird. The Burmeister, for his part, remarks: “Hummingbirds cannot be called dumb birds; when they sit on some dry branch and rest there for a while, their weak chirping voice is sometimes heard. I often heard them and watched birds sitting above me in the shade between the leaves: when making a sound, they opened their beak for a moment and protruded a thin split tongue three centimeters from their mouths. Most other observers speak only of rough and harsh sounds, which can be rendered as "tir-tir-tir" or "tsok-tsok-tsok".
The external senses of hummingbirds are well developed and quite evenly. All observers agree that hummingbirds have very sharp eyesight. This can be seen in their movements during the flight, especially when you see how they grab very small, invisible insects for our eyes. It can also be assumed that their hearing is not worse developed than that of other birds, although accurate observations about this do not yet exist. The sense of touch is probably very well developed, since without it it would be impossible for these birds to get their food from the deep corollas of flowers. “Hummingbirds do not know,” Burmeister says very correctly, “whether the flower contains anything suitable for them; therefore, they hover over it, fluttering, stick their tongue into the depth of the corolla, and by constant movement of the wings are held in this position until they thoroughly explore one flower after another. At the same time, the tongue does almost the same work as that of woodpeckers: it explores all the hidden corners that are inaccessible to other external senses. Subtle touch immediately notices the prey and indicates to the tongue what to grab. The development of taste is proved by the fact that all hummingbirds love sweet things. Nothing definite can be said about the sense of smell, but we have the right to assume that this sense is not very weak either.
Observations on these little birds are more difficult than on others, and therefore the opinions of naturalists are rather contradictory. While hummingbirds are moving freely, you can only get to know them superficially. The impetuosity and speed of their movements, restless lively disposition, small size and a large number of specimens make observations much more difficult. However, it can be easily seen that hummingbirds are very good at distinguishing friends from enemies, useful from harmful, and also that they become more trusting when they are not disturbed, and, on the contrary, shy and cautious when pursued. In most cases, they show gullibility, which often harms them, but this is due to their extraordinary dexterity and confidence in all their movements. They are, so to speak, convinced that they can avoid any danger in time, and when it comes to their natural enemies, this confidence is quite reasonable. Too much trust in a person, of course, often deceives them, and therefore they often become victims of their excessive courage.
Before proceeding to a description of their lifestyle, it is necessary to clarify the issue of hummingbird food, because it is food, as has been said several times, that largely affects it. It used to be thought that hummingbirds fed on the sweet juice of flowers, or at least that this juice constituted the main part of their food. “It is quite natural,” says Prince von Wied, “that when describing travels we often find news about these small birds, which are distinguished by such attractive properties, but it is strange that so far many important information about the life of hummingbirds have been immersed for us in some twilight. These unexplained questions include their food. " It is clear that these cute creatures, which dip their long thin beak into deep corollas of flowers, were also attributed to food consisting of sweet flower honey. Since it was believed that their long tongue looked like a tube, it was assumed that hummingbirds suck sweet juice from flowers with it, which you still read about in many writings. Azara, in other cases a very conscientious naturalist, did not himself observe this important part of their way of life and therefore remained in the same erroneous opinion about the nutrition of hummingbirds. He was fully in a position to make accurate observations on this subject, but he may be reproached with contenting himself with studying the appearance of these birds; otherwise, he would no doubt rather discuss the question of their food. Some other explorers have noticed the mistake made by the old naturalists, and among them, first of all, Badier should be named, who was the first to point out that hummingbirds eat insects.
This naturalist wrote as early as 1778 that it was completely understandable to him why all the coliori, who were fed with sugar water and syrup, soon died, since they only accidentally swallow honey juice from flowers, but in reality they feed on very small bugs, which stay at the bottom of the corolla and eat the honey there. He killed and dissected various hummingbirds and found the remains of beetles and spiders in the stomach of all. He kept two hummingbirds in captivity and fed them molasses and finely crushed breadcrumbs for six weeks; but they grew weaker and soon died, and on examination it turned out that there was crystalline sugar in their empty intestines. Brandeis was translating Molina's natural history description of Chile around the same time, and came to the same conclusion as Badier.
More detailed information was given by Wilson in 1810. “Until now, it was assumed,” he says, “that hummingbirds feed on the sweet juice of plants, and only one or two observers noticed that they found pieces of insects in the stomach of these birds, and their appearance was explained by chance. Due to the difficulty of observing and anatomy of hummingbirds for Europeans this opinion has become universal. I, for my part, can speak about this matter with some confidence. On beautiful summer evenings I happened to see hummingbirds chasing small insects flying in the air for half an hour, as our flycatchers do, but with such dexterity in flight, which far surpasses our domestic birds.I dissected a large number of these birds and examined the contents of their stomachs with a magnifying glass, and in three cases out of four I found that this contents consisted of small pieces of insects, and it often happened to find very small whole beetles. The observations of my friends are quite consistent with mine. Everyone knows very well that Hummingbirds are especially fond of large flowers that look like bells, but it is these flowers that serve as a habitat for small insects. Bullock (1825) fully agrees with Wilson's opinion.
Of the latest observers, this subject is reported in detail by Gosse and Burmeister. “Hummingbirds eat,” says the first of them (1847), “as I was convinced from my own observations, almost exclusively by insects. I admit that they also drink the sweet juice of flowers, and I know that they can be kept in captivity for some time , feeding on honey and sugar; but that they can be content exclusively with this food and still maintain their strength, I strongly doubt.
I deliberately quoted extracts from the works of good naturalists on the subject of hummingbird food, but I must note that one message from the above requires further confirmation. Now hardly anyone can believe that hummingbirds suck the juice from flowers, but the following information given by Burmeister raises a new question. This naturalist, both in his description of his journey and in his systematic depiction of the fauna of Brazil, affirms positively that hummingbirds never catch insects in flight. He agrees with Bullock that hummingbirds seize spiders, but with great certainty denies the validity of the agreed opinions of the above-named naturalists, with whose writings he is no doubt familiar. “I myself saw,” he says, “how hummingbirds grab small flies from cobwebs, hovering over them in the same way as over flowers, and I could clearly see how a bird, now moving towards the web, now moving away from it, pecked out one fly Spiders rarely interfere with birds in this activity and even hide, because if they appear carelessly, the hummingbird will not even think about grabbing them, especially small ones.0057 The feeding of hummingbirds on insects is thus fully proven, and no one can doubt it now. But hummingbirds never catch insects in flight, and precisely because they cannot do this, they are forced to pull them out of the corollas of flowers. At the same time, honey also gets on their tongue, but this, no doubt, is only a seasoning, and not the main goal of their tongue search at the bottom of the flowers. Therefore, the poetic expression that a hummingbird kisses flowers is not entirely fair. The hummingbird is not satisfied with a kiss, but also seeks food in flowers. Why these little birds do not catch their prey on the fly, as many of our birds do, is easy to explain if we compare the thin, long, narrow-holeed beak of a hummingbird with the wide, short beak of a swallow. All birds that catch insects in flight have a short, flat bill, a wide mouth, and long bristles at the corners of the mouth. We notice that these signs are directly related to the size of the prey and the dexterity with which the birds grab it. Therefore, a bird whose beak, like that of a hummingbird, has signs completely opposite to the above three, cannot catch insects on the fly: it must pull them out of the cracks of tree trunks, as woodpeckers do, or grab them from the bottom of flowers, as we notice in hummingbird. In both cases, a long tongue is needed, which in woodpeckers is attached to the long filiform processes of the lingual bone, and in hummingbirds it has almost the same structure. "From these words of Burmeister it is clear that he did not observe how hummingbirds catch insects in flight, but nothing else it is impossible to deduce from his report Wilson, Audubon and Gosset are too good observers to doubt the reliability of the information they report.0057 The country and area where hummingbirds live, the flowers growing there and supplying them with food and other external conditions, of course, have a great influence on the way of life of various hummingbirds, but the habits of individual species differ quite significantly from each other. Almost all hummingbirds are true diurnal birds.
Some travelers, among them Speaks and Martius, speak of whole swarms of hummingbirds, while others say that hummingbirds appear only singly. “I can say from my own experience,” says Prince von Wied, “that both of these opinions are true, since we often killed a lot of hummingbirds of the same species near a flowering tree in a few minutes, although usually they are shown only one by one.” Stedman says that near some trees he saw at once such a mass of hummingbirds that a general buzzing was heard, as from a whole swarm of wasps. Rel, who has lived in Venezuela for more than 20 years, told me the same thing; However, he noticed that the appearance of hummingbirds in whole swarms occurs only when the tree at the beginning of flowering is suddenly covered with a large number of flowers. Usually, however, hummingbirds appear only one after another, and each specimen remains in one place for a very short time.
Compared to their tiny size, they are extremely irritable and angry creatures. They do not recognize their weakness at all, but are so self-confident, bold and daring that, when it seems necessary to them, they attack other animals. They rush with fury at small owls, fairly large falcons, and even with obvious audacity approach a person. Near their nest, they rise into the air to a considerable height and from there rapidly fall down with a peculiar whistle coming from the rapid movement of their wings. At the same time, they try to fall as close as possible to the object that aroused their anger, obviously wanting to scare it. However, sometimes they directly enter into a fight and try to use their long and thin beak. Bullock, who also talks about their attacks on falcons, believes that they point a needle-sharp beak at the eyes of other birds and this causes them to flee. In fact, it probably happens like this: the falcon loses courage in the fight against them, because, due to their quick movements, he cannot see them and feels his helplessness in relation to them. It must be most interesting to see how such large birds are put to flight by obscure dwarfs.
Apart from nesting time, when hummingbirds bravely attack every living creature that approaches their nest, these birds are extremely trusting of humans. They are not at all shy, they allow themselves to be examined closely, they calmly fly back and forth in front of the observer and are completely carefree while the person is standing calmly. Gosse says that they are very curious and immediately approach the object that attracts their attention. Gundlach relates that they often search the flowers of the bouquet which the ladies hold in their hands; Audubon, and after him Burmeister, report that hummingbirds often fly into rooms, attracted by bouquets placed there.
It is not yet fully known whether pairs remain connected throughout the year or whether both sexes converge only during nesting. They bring out the cubs at different times, depending on the area. Those species that are migratory build nests in the spring, and those that live in middle America do so when the largest number of plants are in bloom. In some species, apparently, nesting is not at all connected with the known season: Gosse affirms positively that he found nests with crested hummingbird eggs in all months. "From my observation," he says, "most hummingbirds hatch in June, while Gil says that this happens most often in January. In all likelihood, most species lay eggs twice a year."
All species of hummingbirds build similar nests and lay only two whitish, long and rather large eggs. “The similarity of these small and beautiful nests is so great,” says Burmeister, “that I find it superfluous to describe them separately, although each species has its own characteristics regarding the material for building nests. However, this difference should rather be attributed to local conditions, precisely located in this area substances from which to build a nest."
The common features of all nests are approximately the following: the main material for construction is vegetable cotton, but not always real cotton wool; this cotton is mixed with other solid vegetable matter, such as tree lichen, dry, tender grasses, and brown scales of ferns. In some nests we find all these materials together, while in others only a part of them. The lichen used in business is very different, but each species of hummingbird, apparently, prefers a certain variety of lichen to others and only uses it when building a nest. The most surprising thing in this respect should be considered the construction of one solar hummingbird, whose nest is twisted from tender stems of moss and leaves without any cotton. This nest ends at the bottom with a very elongated point, and for its construction, among other things, Brazilian red lichen is used; the nest therefore acquires a very beautiful appearance from the outside, but what is even stranger is that the coloring matter contained in the lichen is released due to the warmth of the incubating bird and stains even the testicles in a bright crimson color, which in the highest degree astonishes the naturalist who finds such a nest. Particularly surprising is the uniformity and brightness of the coloration of these testicles: neither light nor dark spots are noticeable on them, despite the fact that the lichen does not serve as a uniform bedding for the entire inner lining of the nest; it, like in other species, is only mixed with moss and woven in such a way that only one end enters inside, and the other hangs outside the nest in the form of a soft blade.
Hummingbird nests differ not only in construction, but also in the place where they are arranged and in location, with some species constantly building nests in the same places. For example, the nest of the white-necked hummingbird, which can be seen even in the gardens of the suburbs of Rio de Janeiro, is always arranged on a horizontal bifurcating branch. It is, as it were, pushed into the fork from above, so that the branches from it continue in a horizontal or slightly upward direction. I found many such nests, and I think I noticed that the bird chooses a tree with some deliberation, and prefers certain trees and does not build on other nests. Most species, however, squeeze their nest between sheer straws or thin branches. I have collected several such nests, which are located between the strong stalks of various wild grasses, so that a few straws serve as supports for them.
Schomburgk says that the nest of the topaz hummingbird is usually located on forked branches of trees that bend over the river, or on the hanging trunks of climbing plants. "Outside, the nest is tanned skin-colored and built of a mass similar to tinder. To prevent eggs or chicks from falling out of this nest when the wind shakes thin branches, careful parents provided the nest with a wide border, the edge of which is bent inward." From Salvin's observations, it turns out that in at least some species of hummingbirds, the male participates in the construction of the nest, since the hummingbird, which before his eyes grabbed a tuft of cotton almost out of hand, was a male. In most cases, however, the main part of the work, apparently, is performed by the female; Gosse tells us about this from his own observations. He says that while looking for nests and eggs, he suddenly heard a noise from the flight of a hummingbird and saw a female carrying a large amount of vegetable cotton in her beak.
Audubon says that hummingbird eggs hatch in 10 days, become quite large after a week, but are fed by their parents for another week. This information, it seems, is not entirely true: we know from other naturalists that hummingbird cubs, when they hatch from the nest, are naked and blind and so helpless that they can hardly open their beak to take food brought by their parents. According to Burmeister, they hatch only after 16 days of incubation, open their eyes only after 14 days and can fly after 4 weeks, and until then remain in the nest, which is expanded by the mother as the young grow *.

* It has been established that the duration of incubation in hummingbirds varies from 14 to 19 days, the chicks remain in the nest for 20-25 days.

All Americans are very fond of hummingbirds for their beauty and cuteness, and therefore they hunt for them only when a European who collects collections asks for it. In the old descriptions of travels and writings of natural history, it is said that they can be shot at with sand or water. Audubon tried it and found that a charge of water only dirty the gun, but did not kill the hummingbird. The smallest shot is suitable for hunting hummingbirds, but it is necessary to accurately measure the charge and shoot at the proper distance. In other respects, this hunt is not at all difficult and does not require special skill. You should stand under a flowering tree and at the appropriate moment shoot at a hummingbird that flutters over a flower. In a similar way, you can kill them as much as you want during the morning. Dead birds, however, matter only to naturalists, since the days when noble Mexicans decorated their dresses with hummingbird feathers have already passed. However, even now it is fashionable to decorate ladies' hats with stuffed animals of these lovely birds, and at the World Exhibition in Paris in 1878 one could see the corsage of a lady's ball gown, sewn from shiny hummingbird breasts **.

* * As a result of mass extermination in the last century, the number of many hummingbirds was undermined. Now a ban has been introduced on the international trade of these birds, some species are on the verge of extinction and are listed in the Red Book of the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).

Apart from humans, the hummingbird seems to have no other enemies. It can hardly be assumed that they are often made victims of birds of prey or predatory animals, as they surpass them in speed of movement. Hummingbird chicks, however, can be prey to climbing predators and nest-ravaging birds: this is already evident from the fact that adult hummingbirds attack these nest-busters with fury. In general, it should be assumed that these living yahonts most often die a natural death, which can be concluded from a large number of them, although they do not multiply very strongly. Previously, a lot of work was done on the mythical enemies of hummingbirds; it was said, for example, that a large spider, the so-called tarantula, catches hummingbirds in its web and sucks the blood out of them, just as our cross kills flies. But our knowledge of the life of a hummingbird casts doubt on the plausibility of these stories reported by Sibyl Merian and Palisot de Beauvois, although the possibility that a small hummingbird may become entangled in a thick web and be killed by a large spider cannot be denied.

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