We have a single photo today, but it’s a nice one: a female black-chinned hummingbird (Archilochus alexandri), photographed in Idaho by reader Stephen Barnard. Look at those miniscule feet!
Here’s its range map (they’re migratory, and winter in Mexico):
And some fun black-chinned hummingbird facts, from the Cornell Ornithology site (my emphasis):
- The Black-chinned Hummingbird’s tongue has two grooves; nectar moves through these via capillary action, and then the bird retracts the tongue and squeezes the nectar into the mouth. It extends the tongue through the nearly closed bill at a rate of about 13–17 licks per second, and consumes an average of 0.61 milliliters (about a fifth of a fluid ounce) in a single meal. In cold weather, may eat three times its body weight in nectar in one day. They can survive without nectar when insects are plentiful.
- At rest, heart beats an average of 480 beats per minute. On cold nights they go into torpor, and the heart rate drops to 45–180 beats per minute. Breathing rate when resting is 245 breaths per minute at 91 degrees Fahrenheit; this rises to 420 breaths per minute when temperature drops to 55 degrees Fahrenheit. Torpid hummingbirds breathe sporadically.
- A Black-chinned Hummingbird’s eggs are about the size of a coffee bean. The nest, made of plant down and spider and insect silk, expands as the babies grow.
- The oldest known Black-chinned Hummingbird lived to be 10 years 1 month old.
And two more facts from Wikipedia:
- As of 2011, it has the smallest known genome of all living amniotes, only 0.91 pg (910 million base pairs).
- Research also suggests that they may purposefully nest near the active nests of much larger, predatory birds, as a means of reducing nest predation. The larger predators are too large and slow to be interested in the hummingbird, but their presence will deter other birds that might be interested in the black-chinned hummingbird’s eggs or newly-hatched chicks