Published on Aug 9, 2020

Abstract Hummingbird Background Images

License Info: Creative Commons 4.0 BY-NC

Tiny, pugnacious, jewel-like hummingbirds are relatively easy to attract to a garden and fun to have around. A careful look at hummingbirds provides a window into the elegance of adaptation in the natural world.

Hummingbirds belong to the avian family Trochilidae, and their closest relatives are the equally fascinating swifts. Hummingbirds are small (weighing 2 to 20 grams), with long, narrow bills and small, saber-like wings.

Males (and occasionally females) often have a colorful gorget—small, stiff, highly reflective, colored feathers on the throat and upper chest. These shiny feathers and others around the head may look sooty black until a hummingbird turns its head to catch the sun and display the intense, metallic spectral color..


The bee hummingbird of Cuba weighs only 1.95 grams, which means that, theoretically, 16 could be mailed first-class using just one stamp. The calliope hummingbird, the fourth-smallest bird, weighs in at a whopping 2.5 grams (less than an ounce) and can be found in the mountains of western North America.

The almost 340 species of hummingbirds are entirely restricted to the New World, where they can be found from Tierra Del Fuego to southern Alaska and from below sea level deserts to steamy tropical forests at elevations of up to 16,000 feet in the Andes of South America.

Most species live in the tropics, and while 17 species regularly nest in the United States, many of these are found close to the Mexican border. Most areas in the U.S. have one or two breeding species, and only the ruby-throated hummingbird nests east of the Mississippi.

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