Allen's Hummingbird, © Photo by Steve Kaye

Little Big Bird

Meet the Little Big Bird

Allen's Hummingbird, © Photo by Steve Kaye, in Little Big Bird

Allen’s Hummingbird, Male

The Allen’s Hummingbird Is a Little Big Bird

Certainly, it’s little: About 3.75 inches (9.5 cm) long. And it weighs only about 0.11 ounce (3 gm).

Imagine, this bird weighs less than two-thirds of a teaspoon of water (US and UK, half a teaspoon in Australia).

And yet, it’s a complete living bird with a heart, lungs, digestive system, and everything else that it needs to live.

It even has a pancreas. (Of course, that’s really tiny.)

But it’s big in some very special ways.

It flies at big speeds of about 30 mph (48 kph).

So it can zip across your yard in a second [assuming your yard is 44 feet wide (13 m)].

Allen's Hummingbird, © Photo by Steve Kaye, in Little Big Bird

Allen’s Hummingbird, Female

The Allen’s Hummingbird has a big appetite.

Normally, it eats twice its body weight in nectar each day.

And it also eats small bugs, which make up about 10% of its diet.

If you choose to count, 0.6 grams can add up to a big number of small bugs.

Since it digests such a big volume of food, it’s especially sensitive to toxins. For example, even trace amounts of pesticides can be fatal.

So if you keep a hummingbird feeder, please avoid adding anything extra to the sugar water. Never add dyes, flavors, vitamins, preservatives, perfumes, or artificial sweeteners.

Recognize that these are wild birds, not people.

Just use a mix of one fourth cup cane sugar and 1 cup water. (Never use brown sugar or honey.)

Since its food supply is so important, it can be a big bully in protecting its habitat.

A hummingbird can be a big help, too. By visiting flowers, it helps pollinate them.

So the next time you see a hummingbird, call out, “Hello, little big bird.”

Much success,

Steve Kaye

PS: See more photos of hummingbirds here: Hummingbird Photos

Help Birds Tip

Avoid garden chemicals

Why #1: These chemicals poison birds when they eat (or even contact) treated plants, seeds, and bugs.

Why #2: Garden chemicals can make people sick, too. Unfortunately, this happens a long time after coming into contact with these chemicals.

Here’s an article that tells more: See Pest Control Chemicals

Birding Resources

Learn more about hummingbirds: Visit the Hummingbird Society’s Web Site: The Hummingbird Society

Celebrate hummingbirds by attending the Sedona Hummingbird Festival (July 29 – 31). See: Hummingbird Festival

Remarkable Book: Hummingbirds: A Life-size Guide to Every Species

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  • ThildaZorn
    Posted at 13:45h, 15 July

    How wonderful, dear Steve, your friend from a colibri-land, Guatemala! I have them in my hand sometimes, when they enter the house, so wondrous those little creatures, delicate and fragile.
    Happy weekend to you all, bird-lovers! Thilda

  • Bob Franz
    Posted at 06:57h, 16 July

    Hummmm – I’l think about it!

  • Kris Risley
    Posted at 20:25h, 17 July

    Thanks for sharing your gorgeous hummer photos. When are you going to Cuba to photograph the Bee Hummingbirds? They are the smallest of the small.

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