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Bee hummingbirds

(Mellisuga helenae)


Category: Birds



Bee hummingbirds (Mellisuga helenae), native to Cuba, weigh about as much as a dime and are about 2.5” long, eat their weight in nectar every day, and lay the smallest eggs of any bird. Like all hummingbirds, these amazing creatures have heartrates that can go over 1000 beats per minute and wings that can flap 80 or more times per second – yes, that’s per second. Bee hummingbirds are not “pets,” in that they are not domesticated, but with hummingbird feeders and specific flowers, they will respond to invitations to gather food on your property, a treat for the many people who enjoy watching, listening to, and caring for them. The bee hummingbird’s estimated life span is about 10 years, with documented lives of banded birds reaching 11 years.


Data & Facts

Scientific Classification
Kingdom - Animalia
Phylum - Chordata
Class - Aves
Order - Apodiformes
Family - Trochilidae
Genus - Mellisuga
Species - M. helenae

Did you know?
Interesting Animal Facts

Asleep at the wheel?

Can you imagine spending nearly all of your life in the air? The common swift doesn’t have to - it just does! From the day this bird learns to fly, it almost never touches the ground voluntarily - it eats, drinks, mates, and may even sleep while flying. While sleep walking can be problematic in humans, many birds have the ability to enter a state called unihemispheric slow-wave sleep, where one half of the brain sleeps as the other remains alert. This method of “sleeping with one eye open,” is a great way to avoid becoming another animal’s meal, and has led to the suspicion that these birds, who almost never willingly land, also sleep while in flight!

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