Recorded as the largest Hummingbird in the world is the Giant Hummingbird (Patagona gigas). Like its Hummingbird cousins, it is a subspecies of the Trochilidae family. It weighs around 24 grams (or .85 ounces) and measures 9 inches long (or 23 centimeters).
The largest hummingbird in the entire species of Trochilidae hummingbirds, this large and in charge Hummingbird is around the same size as a Starling! While it has some of the same characteristics as an average Hummingbird, its large frame makes it behave slightly differently. For instance, the Giant Hummingbird is less likely to hover and instead uses its wings to glide throughout the air, similar to a songbird.
Want to know more about the giant Hummingbird, like where to find them, what they look like, and what they eat? Keep reading!
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Giant Hummingbird’s Physical Appearance
The coloring of the giant hummingbird is muted, especially when compared to other colorful species of hummingbirds such as anna’s hummingbird, allen’s hummingbird, or the iridescent costa’s hummingbird. It has muted brown feathers on its wings and tail feathers and a subtle hint of white and orange around the base of its breast.
Among other songbirds, the coloring of the giant hummingbird isn’t as pronounced, but its large stature is hard to miss. The giant hummingbird has a wingspan of around 21 centimeters or 8.5 inches. To compare, the wingspan of the more familiar Northern cardinal measures between 10 to 12 inches.
Flight Capability of the Giant Hummingbird
It takes a ton of calories and energy to maintain its fluttering wings. Unlike other species of hummingbirds, the giant hummingbird also glides through the air, similar to a songbird, to conserve energy. When hovering, the wings of the giant hummingbird hit around 15 wing beats per minute, which is relatively slow. To compare, anna’s hummingbird range between 40 and 50 wing beats per minute.
Its slower wing beats are due to the bird’s more significant nature requiring more energy to hover than a lighter and smaller hummingbird. The giant hummingbird’s flight pattern differs slightly from your average hummingbird, and it’s often seen perching on a branch or gliding through the air rather than furiously fluttering.
Sightings of the giant hummingbird are rare. While their populations aren’t declining (they are listed as ‘least concern’), their habitat is tiny. To catch sight of this elusive giant hummingbird, you must head to South America. This rare hummingbird is found in higher elevations in warmer climates in the Andes.
It lives in Bolivia, Chile, Colombia, Peru, and Ecuador. While it’s a short-distance migratory bird, its range is short. During the breeding season, it travels to higher elevations in the Andes and heads to warmer climates in canyons in South America in search of food sources in its wintering grounds. Unfortunately, this rare hummingbird won’t appear at your hummingbird feeders if you live in North America.
While it has the size of an average songbird, the giant hummingbird dines on the rich nectar of tropical flowers in South America. However, its large stature makes it difficult to achieve the amount of protein needed to sustain energy levels for its large frame throughout the day. What makes the giant hummingbird unique is that it supplements its nectar diet with protein sources from bugs. Female giant hummingbirds need an influx of calcium during the breeding season, so females have been spotted by birdwatchers eating calcium-rich food such as sand, slaked lime, soil, and even wood ash.
What Is The Largest Hummingbird In North America?
While the giant hummingbird is the world’s largest hummingbird, it’s unlikely that you’ll see it dining from your feeders in North America. If you want to catch sight of the largest hummingbird north of Mexico, the blue-throated mountain gem is the largest hummingbird in North America.
The blue-throated moutain-gem spends its wintering grounds in much of Central America but travels north for its breeding season. If you live in the southern portion of the United States in areas such as Texas, or Arizona, there is a chance to spot this rare hummingbird in your backyard.
It may not be as large as the giant hummingbird, but it still towers over more common species of hummingbirds such as the Ruby-Throated hummingbird or the Rufous hummingbird. Males measure around 12 centimeters long and weigh, on average, around 8.4 grams (.30 ounces).
What Is The World’s Smallest Hummingbird?
The world’s smallest Hummingbird is the bee hummingbird, and it’s ten times smaller than the giant hummingbird! Not only is it the most diminutive Hummingbird in the world, but it is the smallest bird in the world. It weighs 1.95 grams (.069 ounces). To put that into a little perspective, it weighs a little less than a plastic spoon or a dime.
It measures 5.5 centimeters long (2 1/8 inches) from bill to tail feathers. To catch a glimpse of this impossibly tiny Hummingbird, you must head to Cuba or parts of the Caribbean. It’s also important to note that even though populations are small, the bee hummingbird is considered near-threatened as populations decline with urbanization.
Will Large Hummingbirds Eat At My Feeders?
If you live in an area of the world where these large hummingbirds (like the giant hummingbird or the blue-throated mountain gem) live, you can attract them to your backyard feeders. Just like any other subspecies of hummingbirds, these large birds dine primarily on nectar from flowers and hummingbird feeders. The blue-throated mountain gem hummingbird is quite an aggressive bird and may scare off the smaller hummingbirds at your feeders!