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Trochilidae – Hummingbirds

Rivoli’s Hummingbird in the United States: Photo by Graham Deese

Trochilidae, or hummingbirds, are among the smallest and most colorful birds in the world. Native to the Americas, these energetic birds are known for their rapid wingbeats, allowing them to hover and fly in any direction, including backwards. Hummingbirds play a crucial role as pollinators, feeding primarily on nectar and occasionally on insects. With a variety of species exhibiting unique plumage and behaviors, they captivate birdwatchers and nature enthusiasts alike. Our guide provides insights into the diverse world of hummingbirds, from their feeding habits to their incredible migratory journeys.

Overview of Trochilidae

In the high-energy lives of the world’s smallest birds, sexual selection dominates, with males competing in leks or defending nectar-rich territories to attract mates. Hummingbirds display a stunning array of plumages, often relying on elaborate tail feathers or iridescent colors for visual impact. Their unmatched aerial agility allows them to approach food sources without much fear of predators, making them easy to observe. Since they expend energy so rapidly during the day, most species cannot survive the night solely on nectar, so they enter a state of torpor each night—even in tropical climates—to conserve energy.