Upon first seeing this post, some of you may be confused, frightened or angry. “Hummingbirds?”, you’ll say. Yes, dear reader, hummingbirds. Badassery comes in many shapes and sizes, and not all of them can inflict painful, gory, sometimes hilarious death upon the unlucky and unwitting. Most can, but not all, and the hummingbird is pretty harmless.
At first glance, they sort of seem to be the complete opposite of badass. They eat the nectar of flowers and shine like Christmas ornaments. They sing with all the voices of the mountain and paint with all the colors of the wind. While they’re doing all this, they’re flitting from flower to flower at speeds of 34 miles per hour (that’s 54 kilometers per hour for you fans of the metric system). This only confirms what you most likely already knew; it’s fairly common knowledge that hummingbirds are fast as shit.
The reason they’re so fast is because, depending on the species, they flap their wings 12-90 times every fucking second. They flap their wings so fast, they can hover in mid-air. These motherfuckers can fly backwards. I can’t even do that.
As we were all taught by Uncle Ben (From Spider-Man, not the one who sells rice), you don’t get awesome abilities without downsides. Hummingbirds have the highest metabolism of any living animal known to science that is not an insect. A Blue-throated Hummingbird was once measured to have a heart rate of 1,260 beats per minute. Compare that to a typical human heart rate, about 60-80 bpm. Hummingbirds can slow their metabolism and heart rate at night by entering a state called torpor. This drops their heart beat to 50-180 beats per minute, allowing them to not starve to death every night.
Hummingbirds live on the fucking edge, more so than any bird you can care to name or imagine. At any given moment, every hummingbird on this planet is a few hours away from starving to death. This, however, doesn’t stop them from having pretty decent lifespans. Some species only get 3-5 years, but some can go up to 12 years and possibly beyond.
It’s also worth noting that Huitzilopochtli, the Aztec god of war, was really closely associated with hummingbirds. His name, translated, means “Hummingbird on the Left”, which doesn’t inspire nearly as much fear in us as it did in the Aztecs, who were constantly trying to placate him with human sacrifices. The Aztecs would carry around hummingbird talismans they they believed gave the wearer energy, sexual potency, and skill at arms and warfare (the ability to slaughter more people faster). It was also believed that from time to time, the bravest of Aztec warriors could, after they’d been killed, return to the Earth as hummingbirds. They could also return as butterflies, but that’s totally lame, and those warriors were probably laughed at.
To recap, hummingbirds, can fly pretty damn fast in any direction. They also are constantly on the edge of death, and were the inspiration for one of the most feared gods from a pretty insane pantheon. If you don’t think that qualifies them as badasses, you need either a dictionary or a blow to the face with a dictionary, because hummingbirds are, indeed, badass.
Oh, and just in case some of you are falling in love with hummingbirds, I’m taking the liberty of giving you a very close up look of a hummingbird’s tongue.
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