For the first time at the Museum, hummingbirds will be zipping around you in our largest gallery, along with hundreds of fluttering butterflies. We have transformed the space into a garden teeming with hundreds of native and exotic nectar plants, creating a microcosm of the amazing and diverse world of these colorful creatures.
The exhibit Butterflies and Hummingbirds is a unique exploration into this world. Our live Butterflies exhibit a couple of years ago was so popular, we re-created it and added hummingbirds. One of the reasons we chose these birds is because, like butterflies, they feed on flower nectar for an almost completely liquid diet. (Hummingbirds also feed on tiny insects but, no, they do not eat butterflies, so they will coexist harmoniously.)
One of hummingbirds’ most unique features is their ability to hover. Their extremely mobile shoulder joints allow their wings to move in a figure-eight pattern, quite different from most birds, which predominantly flap their wings up and down. Hummingbirds can beat their wings at an amazing rate of up to 80 times per second. That requires quite a bit of energy, and so they feed about every 15 minutes.
More than 100 species of butterflies will fill the gallery throughout the course of the exhibit, which runs through April 7. So just as the temperatures begin to fall outside, this exhibit offers a chance to come inside to explore a warm, lush, tropical plant paradise and escape into the world of these fascinating flutterers and hoverers.