Cuba's Bee Hummingbird

December 10, 2012
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Who said birds had to be big to be spectacular? There is a wide variety of flying creatures in Cuba, but one of the best is so small that you might mistake it for an insect. The bee hummingbird is only slightly heavier than a paperclip, and at just over two inches in length, could perch comfortably on your thumb. The male claims the title of the smallest bird in the world.

That's not the only incredible thing about the male bee hummingbird. During the breeding season, his feathers turn magnificent shades of pink, red, blue and green, which helps him attract mates. It makes sense for these birds to be brilliantly colored, given their diminutive stature. The female bee hummingbird has plumage that is mostly green, with white tips at the end of her tail feathers.

These little creatures exist only on the island of Cuba, which is why those planning to join International Expeditions’ people-to-people Cuba travel program should be sure to bring their binoculars. IE’s nature-focused experience includes joining local birders and farmers on birding excursions across the island. They can be spotted in many parts of the nation, including the capital, Havana. They are happy in Cuba because the nation has a relatively stable, warm climate and plenty of flowering plants to sate their appetite for nectar.

These miniature hummingbirds prefer to live in dense coastal forests, but they have been known to call mountainous regions and gardens home as well. Their favorite food is the nectar of the Solandra grandiflora, a vine with striking flowers.

While bee hummingbirds can still be spotted on Cuba, destruction of their natural habitat has shrunk the population, and now they are localized to certain parts of the island nation. Being so small, they also make easy prey for larger predators, which has contributed to their declining numbers. They are now marked as "Near Threatened."
 

 

Click here to learn more about Cuba's endemic birdlife