BBC Wildlife Magazine - - ECUADOR -

‘Hum­mers’ live life in the fast lane, beat­ing their wings 70–80 times per sec­ond, ris­ing to over 200 a sec­ond dur­ing high-speed dashes. They take up to 500 breaths a minute to feed oxy­gen to enor­mous wing mus­cles com­pris­ing al­most a third of their weight; their hearts are five times the size of ours, pro­por­tional to body size. And in cloud­for­est, the di­ver­sity of hum­ming­birds is as­ton­ish­ing: see­ing 20 or so species jostling for po­si­tion around the sugar feed­ers hung up in lodge gar­dens is noth­ing un­usual. Chocó en­demics in­clude the gor­geous vi­o­let-tailed sylph ( left) and vel­vet-pur­ple coro­net ( op­po­site), while the sword-billed hum­ming­bird ( above) fre­quents the high­est cloud­for­est. Its 10cm-long bill is longer in re­la­tion to the body than in any other bird.

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