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Hummingbird - a speedy, glittering bird species

Baku, May 17, AZERTAC

The Hummingbirds, any of about 320 species of small, often brightly colored birds of the family Trochilidae, usually placed with the swifts in the order Apodiformes but sometimes separated in their own order, Trochiliformes.

The brilliant, glittering colors and elaborately specialized feathers of many species (usually of the males only) led the 19th-century British naturalist John Gould to give many hummingbirds exotic common names, many of which are still in use—e.g., coquette, fairy, hill star, wood star, sapphire, topaz, sun gem, and sylph.

According to Encyclopedia Britannica, hummingbirds are restricted in distribution to the New World, where the greatest variety and number of species occur in South America. About 12 species are found regularly in the United States and Canada.

All hummingbirds are small, and many are minute. Even the largest, the giant hummingbird (Patagona gigas) of western South America, is only about 20 cm (8 inches) long, with a body weight of about 20 g (0.7 ounce), less than that of most sparrows.

Hummingbirds have compact, strongly muscled bodies and rather long, bladelike wings that, unlike the wings of other birds, articulate (connect) to the body only from the shoulder joint.

Moreover, the architecture of the wing permits hummingbirds to fly not only forward but also straight up and down, sideways, and backward and to hover in front of flowers, as they obtain nectar and insects from them.

The hummingbird’s bill, which is adapted for securing nectar from certain types of flowers, is usually rather long and always slender.

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