Tiny Bird, Powerful Wings

Hummingbirds might seem like beautiful, flying jewels, but if you took everything you knew about them and applied it all to a human, you quickly realize that these birds lie on the extreme end of almost every spectrum. In this newsletter, you’ll learn about hummingbirds. To enhance the experience, we’d like you to try to imagine, as you’re reading, a human with the traits of these birds.

hummingbird skull necklace in sterling silver

All Pecs, Basically

Since hummingbirds need to flap their wings really fast, about 25-30% of their body mass is made up of the pectoral muscles. This allows them to stroke with power on both the up and down beats of each wing flap. Most other birds only stroke with power on the down flap. Then, there’s the number of times a hummingbird flaps – 80-200 flaps per SECOND depending on what they are doing. How fast could a human swim if a third of him was just pec muscles and he could move his arm like a hummingbird? Pretty fast. Though, we’re not sure if he would sink or float.

Breaking the Fitbit

If you strapped a Fitbit to a hummingbird while it was flying, you’ll see that its heart rate clocks in around 1200 beats per minute. At rest, their breathing rate is about 250 breaths per minute. Makes sense, right? They need all the oxygen they can get to fuel those giant pec muscles. Unfortunately, if a Fitbit did manage to try to capture these statistics, it might break. Or explode.

Sustaining the Flapping

Like other living things, hummingbirds want to grow, reproduce, and pass on their genes. But HOW organisms go about reaching reproductive age is where it gets interesting. Hummingbirds, thanks to all that flapping, have an insanely high metabolism. This means that they need to eat a lot and they turn that sugar into energy quickly. Every day, a hummingbird will eat up to half its body weight in sugar (in the form of nectar). They also spend about three quarters of their waking time digesting. They’re able to convert 97% of the sugar they eat into energy, making them super efficient and the envy of marathon runners everywhere.

Own A Hummingbird, Without All the Angry Bird Stuff

We forgot to mention, hummingbirds are territorial, aggressive, and antisocial little birds. They guard “their flowers” fiercely and are more than willing to attack, chase off, or fight larger birds and fellow competitors. But luckily, you can own one of these little guys without fear of getting stabbed by their sharp beaks – take a look at our hummingbird skull necklace! Buy it for yourself or for a friend. It also makes a great gift for ornithologists, hummers (people who like to watch and feed hummingbirds), engineers, and evolutionary biologists.

written by Science with Evie


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