Swift and enchanting

One of the most appreciated inhabitants of Praia da Pipa are the swift and enchanting hummingbirds. Of various sizes, colors and shapes, these birds measure on average six to twelve centimeters in length and weigh between two and six grams.

Their beaks are long and thin, the shape varying according to the species and adaptation to the shape of the flower which provides the nutrients for each type of hummingbird.

The forked tongue is another common characteristic, extending to extract the basis of its diet, the nectar of the flower.

The hummingbird’s bone and muscular structure is appropriate to the speed and agility of its flight; extremely light, these are the only birds which fly backwards and hover in mid-flight without making use of air currents.

This is possible because of the manner and velocity with which they beat their wings — between 60 and 80 beats per second. It is a bird which doesn’t walk on the ground, for its feet are tiny, capable only of grabbing onto small branches.

For this reason its nests are constructed of vegetable fibers, leaves, spiders’ webs, moss and lichens, delicately and impeccably finished and always hanging in protected places.

Its lifespan is between ten and twelve years and its eggs take around fifteen days to hatch, and another 30 days for the young to leave the nest. They are polygamous and the male attracts the female with its characteristically long trill.

Their feeding is important because they spend a lot of energy during flight. Around 90% of their diet consists of the sugars contained in the nectars of flowers such as sage and orange trumpet, and the remaining 10% consists of arthropods, in particular flies, spiders and ants.

They are adept with artificial feeds (fountains or feeders), however, caution must be taken not to be too aggressive or even bring about the death of this fragile bird. It is recommended not to use piped water, honey, or sugars which precipitate fermentation and the production of fungi and bacteria, as well as to avoid exposure to the sun.

The feeders should be washed every day and the liquid replaced. (Special liquids can be found in pet shops.) It is also advisable to keep insects away; cockroaches, ants and flies carry parasites and fungi which can infect the feeders.

As is the case with most birds, hummingbirds do not have a very developed olfactory sense; their vision, on the other hand, is very sharp.

As well as identifying colors, hummingbirds are one of the few vertebrates capable of detecting colors of the ultraviolet spectrum.

The hummingbird is also known by other names: colibri, cuitelo, chupa-flor (flower sucker), pica-flor (flower piercer), chupa-mel (honey sucker), binga, guanambi, guinumbi, guainumbi and guanumbi — of the Trochilidae family, including 108 orders and 322 known species.

The greatest biodiversity of this group is found in Brazil and Ecuador, due to the fact that they are vulnerable to threats to the preservation of their habitats. Here in Praia da Pipa they are widespread; various species live amongst the many flowers and feeders, providing a show of beauty and enchantment.