Watch Keepers Weigh a Tiny Hummingbird at Smithsonian's National Zoo
Now here's something you don't see every day!
If you treat yourself to one thing today, let it be this video of a hummingbird being weighed at Smithsonian's National Zoo in Washington, D.C.
The footage (below) shows a five-year-old ruby-throated hummingbird named Spot getting his monthly weigh-in. In a flash, the tiny bird touches down on a special wire just long enough to clock in his minuscule weight: 3.6 grams. That's 1.4 grams less than a nickel!
As you can imagine, obtaining voluntary weight on a hummingbird takes a lot of patience. Hummingbirds usually feed from flowers by hovering at just the right distance for their long tongues to reach the nectar inside. But with positive reinforcement training, sugar water, and a little help from technology, Spot learned to land and sit still on a modified feeder.
"Thankfully, Spot is calm around keepers. Having cared for him for several years, we know that the way to his heart is through sugar water," Smithsonian's Bird House keeper Lori Smith and curator Sara Hallager explained in an article for the zoo's website. "We set Spot's sugar water feeder on a T-stand atop the scale and added a wire at just the right distance where he could sit on the perch without flapping his wings."
Now, why weigh a hummingbird in the first place?
Smithsonian's National Zoo records all its birds' measurements. Keeping track of whether they have gained weight, lost weight, or stayed the same, helps keepers know whether or not they need to adjust a bird's diet. It's especially important to monitor the weights of migratory species like hummingbirds, whose weights naturally fluctuate during breeding and migration season.
"Spot is a sweet, social little hummingbird and a wonderful ambassador for his species," Smith and Hallager note.
We couldn't agree more!