Have you ever thought about a bird that could fit in the palm of your hand? The bee hummingbird, also known as the Cuban hummingbird, is one such bird that is smaller than your thumb. It is found only in the Cuban archipelago where it can be seen flying around forests and gardens. Despite its small size, this jewel-like bird is incredibly active, flapping its wings up to 80 times per second or almost 5,000 beats per minute. Its feeding habits consist mostly of flowers and insects, which provide the fuel for its non-stop hyperactivity.
The bee hummingbird is an energetic little creature that consumes half its body weight in food daily. It travels to as many as 1,500 flowers every day to suck the sugar-rich nectar, which provides vital energy, and hunts insects for protein. Since these birds can fly for up to 20 hours without taking a break, they require a lot of calories. During courtship, their wing beats increase up to 200 times per second, making them the fastest birds on earth, along with the ruby-throated hummingbird. Mistakenly identified as big bumblebees, they weigh less than 0.07 ounces (2 grams). Their beauty is enhanced by their speed and agility. The male has a metallic red head and throat, fiery ruby feathers on the sides of the breast, and a turquoise back when viewed up close. The female’s body shimmers with aquamarine hues and has a delicate gray underside.
The tiny hummingbird is simply marvelous. The female builds a nest that is almost the size of a dime, measuring less than an inch in diameter. She then lays an egg that is as small as a coffee bean.
Hummingbird Spot, a content creator, had the chance to witness bee hummingbirds feeding in a private garden on the Zapata peninsula in Cuba. These tiny birds are known as zunzuncito and make a unique “zun-zun” sound with their wings. Photographer Carole Turek described the experience as spectacular.
The bee hummingbird left an impression on her as she was astonished by their size. She shared that the male bee hummingbird only measures 2.2 inches or 6 centimeters, and the female is slightly bigger. Witnessing these tiny birds up close was an awe-inspiring experience for her.
If you’re looking for a prime spot to observe these adorable avian beauties, your best bet is either the Zapata Peninsula Reserve or the nearby Playa Larga on the Bay of Pigs. Turek’s YouTube video documenting her adventure garnered widespread attention from viewers who were awed by the vibrant colors of the birds. One viewer compared it to peering through a kaleidoscope while another was amazed that such small birds could withstand the brutal storms and hurricanes in the region.
Hummingbirds may look cute and round, but they are far from being defenseless. Despite their plump bodies making them attractive prey for predators like tropical spiders and frogs, these little birds have a feisty personality. They are territorial in their feeding zones and will aggressively chase off any intruders. Their small size doesn’t stop them from being fantastic fliers who can take off in any direction, including backwards and even upside down.
Hummingbirds are also excellent communicators, using squeaking and twittering sounds to communicate with each other while darting from place to place. They make a sweet buzzing noise as they fly, similar to a bumblebee.