American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition
- n. Any of numerous New World birds of the family Trochilidae, usually very small in size and having brilliant iridescent plumage, a long slender bill, and wings capable of beating very rapidly, thereby enabling the bird to hover.
Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia
- n. A bird whose wings, by their rapid vibration, make a humming sound; any bird of the family Trochilidæ. Humming-birds are the most brilliant as well as the smallest of birds, averaging under 3 inches in length, including the bill, which is relatively long and slender, and usually straight, but sometimes decurved or recurved. The tongue is slender and extensile, and constructed like a double-barreled tube; it is used, like the haustellum of an insect, to suck the sweets of flowers. The birds, however, also eat insects. They build a nest, generally like a little cup, coated outside with lichens, and lined with gossamer, plant-down, and other delicate fibers. The eggs are always two in number, and pure white. The wings are narrow and acute or falcate, and so rapidly vibrated as to become indistinct to view; the flight is very swift. The feet are very small and fitted only for perching, not for progression. The tail is of every shape, and sometimes longer than the rest of the bird. A few of the humming-birds are dull-colored, but most of them glitter with the most exquisite hues of iridescent quality or metallic luster, changing in different lights. Shining grass-green is the most frequent color, but many other tints are found, as purple, violet, steel-blue, golden green, crimson, and various shades of flery red, particularly about the head, where many species are also ornamented with crests, ruffs, and gorgets not less elegant in form than in color. All the humming-birds are confined to America, extending from Alaska to Patagonia, and they are especially numerous between the tropics. The latest critical authority on the subject describes 426 species, of 125 genera. About 16 genera are known to occur in the United States. The commonest of these, and the only one known east of the Mississippi, is the rubythroat, Trochilus colubris. The northernmost is the rufous or Nootka Sound hummer, Selasphorus rufus. The largest in the United States is Eugenes fulgens, about 4 inches long. Amazilia fuscicaudata is a rather large one. The giants among them all reach a length, bill included, of about 7 inches. Also called
GNU Webster's 1913
- n. (Zoöl.) any bird of the family
Trochilidæ, of which over one hundred genera are known, including about four hundred species. They are found only in America and are most abundant in the tropics. They are mostly of very small size with long slender bills adapted to sucking nectar from flowers, and are noted for the very brilliant iridescent colors of their plumage and their peculiar habit of hovering about flowers while vibrating their wings very rapidly with a humming noise; the wings are specialized for hovering flight, but they can also dart forward and fly quite rapidly. They feed both upon the nectar of flowers and upon small insects. The common humming bird or ruby-throat of the Eastern United States is Trochilus colubris. Several other species are found in the Western United States. See calliope, and ruby-throat.
- n. tiny American bird having brilliant iridescent plumage and long slender bills; wings are specialized for vibrating flight
“Then, without warning he zipped off the branch doing something I call the hummingbird dance, which is an aerial display of avian acrobatics at lightning speed.”
“I think Kristin's image of a hummingbird is "le mot juste" for Newforest!!”
“As I type, a hummingbird is feasting at the honeysuckle outside my window.”
“The robot, a similar size to a real hummingbird, is equipped with a micro motor and four wings that can flap 30 times per second, said Hiroshi Liu, the researcher at Chiba University east of Tokyo.”
“The new hummingbird is broader, his breast a lighter shade of red.”
“Kind of reminds me now of the stuff I put in hummingbird feeders.”
“The hummingbird is constantly in motion, a high energy creature, nervously darting from flower to flower, desperate to maintain enough nutrition to keep herself going at top speed.”
“As to humankind's technology: A hummingbird is about a billion times more impressive than the Space Shuttle.”
“Up here they call the hummingbird a "oiseau-mouche" or bird-fly.”
“The hummingbird is busy with the mass of sensations, 'up' and 'down,' advancing and receding, among cascades of accidental purple morning glories hanging (where they weren't meant to be) from a tree.”
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