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Ruby-throated hummingbird By Sherrie Versluis

available with their pictures on them. From clothing to mugs, greeting cards to art, and even jewelry and gift- ware. They are such a fascinating bird in so many ways it is impossible to not be captivated when in the presence of one. There are 338 species of hummingbirds in total, all


residing in the Western Hemisphere and of those, 12 species migrate to North America from tropical regions for summer months. The most popular and widely recognized of those is the Ruby-throated hummingbird. The average weight of this tiny bird is about four grams, they are three to 3.5 inches long and have a wingspan of just over four inches. The male is known for his brilliant red gorget or, throat patch and his iridescent emerald green body and white belly. The female which is slightly larger than the male, is a paler green color and lacks the red throat. Juve- niles are similar to the female in appearance. The most

26 • Summer 2016

ne of the most adored wild birds throughout the world is the hummingbird. They are so popular there are literally thousands of different products

notable trait is their long, pointy bill measuring just under an inch long. The Ruby-throated hummingbird has such short legs it prevents them from walking or even hopping. They may shuffle about on a branch but usually move with their wings. The ability of a hummingbird in flight is certainly some-

thing that has been studied and admired by many. The wings beat anywhere from 50 to 80 times per second depending on what it is doing. Hummingbirds can fly amazingly fast yet can stop in an instant. They can hover, fly upside down, backwards and do some amazing maneu- vers with precision control. Their wings are connected to their body only at the shoulder joint allowing them to rotate their wings at almost 180 degrees aiding in their flight abilities. Hummingbirds hearts beat 1260 times per minute and have one of the highest metabolic rates of any animal. They take 250 breaths per minute and during flight their oxygen consumption per gram of muscle tissue is nearly 10 times higher than any top notch human athlete! Muscles make up almost 30 per cent of their body weight.

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