Humming a Tune

DATELINE: Tiny Speedster

 

The littlest birdie in the world is the hummingbird, and you have David Attenborough ready to spill the beans in the heartbeat in this documentary from 2012 called, Hummingbirds.

When in flight, their hearts beat around 1200 beats per minute. When they sleep at night, they go into a suspended animation that leaves their hearts beating 40 times per minute. It takes them half an hour in morning to wake up—and they are prime choice for predators in this condition.

They must eat every fifteen minutes to keep their prodigious lifestyle. Besides flower nectar, they go after little bugs. They avoid bees whose sting could kill them.

These remarkable mammals are the fastest, smallest, and most amazing of creatures: they came about ten million years after flowers and adapted to become the cold morning pollinator. Insects could not do the job.

The hummingbird also is the most acrobatic flier in the world: he can fly backwards and upside down, unlike any other bird. Though they seemed to be most closely tied to South America and Brazil, they moved into the Andes Mountains soon thereafter—and a micro-version went to North America.

They must eat every 15 minutes to keep up their energy, but there are so many mysteries about how they live, no scientist can say for sure.

They migrate thousands of miles to Texas each year—and then must fatten up to make a flight across the Gulf of Mexico where there is no rest, no food, and no information on how they do it.

But this film is stunning for the beauty of the birds that have iridescent feathers that explode in color when they are combative. Slow motion photography grants an opportunity to see what is too fast for the human eye normally.