Hummingbird-like drone films inside a monarch butterfly swarm

May 23, 2020 • 2:00 pm

We have two PBS videos today. First, a lovely video that uses a tiny “hummingbird drone” to fly inside a monarch butterfly swarm in their Mexican mountain destination.  Look at how thickly the trees are festooned with butterflies!

And, as a treat, here’s a video of a real tiny hummingbird, in fact the smallest bird on Earth: the bee hummingbird (Mellisuga helenae). It’s endemic to Cuba and the Isla de la Juventud.

How big is it? Wikipedia says this:

The bee hummingbird is the smallest living bird. Females weigh 2.6 g (0.092 oz) and are 6.1 cm (2.4 in) long, and are slightly larger than males, with an average weight of 1.95 g (0.069 oz) and length of 5.5 cm (2.2 in).  Like all hummingbirds, it is a swift, strong flier.

In other words, it would take 175 females to weigh a pound. And they have the typical hummingbird metabolism, eating half their weight each day in nectar and the occasional insect.

Eggs the size of coffee beans! 80 wingbeats per second! A nest smaller than a golf ball, and beautifully festooned with what looks like liverworts. This, like all hummingbirds, is one of the most marvelous products of natural selection.

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