Avid birdwatchers enjoy spotting a rare bird species or one that has unique characteristics. The hummingbird is one of those species that not everyone has the good fortune to observe. That’s because this tiny little creature is a native of the island of Cuba. The bee is reportedly the world’s smallest bird.
Physical Characteristics of the Bee Hummingbird
Hummingbirds by nature are tiny creatures when compared to other birds; however, the Bee is much smaller than its fellow hummingbirds. The bee hummingbird species is so small that it gets its name from the bee. Spotting one of these small hummingbirds can be a challenge, because when in flight it can beat its wings 80 times per second. When it is time to mate, the tiny bird’s wingbeats increase to 200 per second.
This miniature bird measures around two and one-fourth inches long and weighs less than two grams–about the weight of two regular paper clips or a dime. One can only imagine how this tiny hummingbird survives with various predators that exist in its habitat because it is small enough to be mistaken for an insect. The nest of the bee hummingbird is about an inch across which is cozy and perfect for the coffee bean or pea-size eggs the female lays.
Male and females have distinctive features that set them apart; however, it might be difficult to distinguish between the sexes at a distance since they are so tiny. The female birds are usually light grey or white with bluish-green plumage on the upper body. The female’s tail feathers are white. Males have black tail feathers and pinkish-red coloring on the head, chin and throat area.
The Bee Hummingbird’s Habitat
This tiniest of the hummingbird species lives in specific areas in Cuba. Two of the best places for birdwatchers to catch a glimpse of one of these tiny birds are on the Guanahacabibes Peninsula on the far western part of the island and near the Zapata Swamp in the east. Bee Hummingbirds compete with insects for food, but they also dine on insects. The Bee Hummingbird prefers areas where plenty of nectar-filled flowers grow. Their diet consists mostly of nectar. Along the edges of forests where flowering vines thrive are places where Bees like to use their nectar gathering skills. Bee Hummingbirds can eat up to half their body weight in food. They are beneficial creatures since they pollinate several hundred flowers each day.
The males of this species have a strange way of attracting females for mating. The males congregate in groups and perform by “singing” to attract females. When males are successful in attracting available females for mating, the singing group disbands with some males moving on without a mate.
The Future of the Species
Like any species, the future of the Bee Hummingbird rests largely on maintaining hospitable environments, which provide both nourishment and safety. If the places where Bee Hummingbirds live and thrive are cleared for farmland or other development, most likely this tiny species could become endangered.