Among the most difficult, as well as among the most beautiful Scramble Squares® puzzles, the Hummingbirds Scramble Squares® is a wonderful gift for bird enthusiasts, naturalists, gardeners and for anyone needing a little humility!
Hummingbirds are among nature’s most beautiful and fascinating creatures. They live only in the Americas, on the islands of the Caribbean Sea and on the American continents from Alaska south to Tierra del Fuego, Chile. The highest concentration of hummingbird population is within a ten degree belt along the equator across South America. Hummingbirds were unknown outside the western hemisphere before Columbus journeyed to the New World. Of the sixteen species that nest in the continental United States, fourteen species live in the West or Southwest. The difficult migration path across the Gulf of Mexico to warm winters has kept all but the ruby-throated hummingbird from nesting in the eastern United States.
The hummingbird’s unique and amazing maneuverability in flight enables it to fly backwards and sideways, as well as to hover motionless in flight. Not only can they begin flight at nearly top speed and stop abruptly, hummingbirds can actually do backward somersaults in flight and fly upside down briefly to avoid danger. The hummingbird’s wings beat so rapidly that they are visible in flight only as a blur. Its wings move back and forth, rather than up and down, tracing a flat figure eight with their tips, rotating their leading edges backward 180º from the hummingbird’s shoulders on the backstroke so that the underside of its wings are facing up. The iridescent colors of the hummingbird’s feathers sparkle in the sun as it darts from flower to flower in search of nectar and insects.
Hummingbirds are very small creatures and have incredibly rapid metabolisms, expending more energy than any other warm-blooded animal. The number of hummingbird heartbeats per minute ranges from 480 to 1260 beats per minute. A human being would need to consume and burn twice his or her weight in food every day in order to equal the metabolism of a hummingbird. Hummingbirds have the highest body temperature of any bird, 40º C., and drink up to eight times their body weight in water each day. They alternate between eating and resting 60 times each day. Hummingbirds extract the nectar from flowers with long slender white tongues for quick energy, consuming 45% of their body weight in sugar daily, but insects and spiders are an important source of protein in the hummingbird’s diet. Hummingbirds are the only birds whose bodies become dormant regularly at night, their temperatures dropping approximately in half until morning. Their life expectancy averages about ten years, and some live as long as fourteen years.
The Cuban bee hummingbird is the world’s smallest warm-blooded creature, weighing less than one tenth of an ounce and measuring only two inches from beak to tail. In fact, its beak and tail represent half of its total size. The North American ruby-throated and black-chinned hummingbirds are almost as tiny. Over 300 species of hummingbirds have been discovered, with 16 species nesting in the continental United States.