Hummingbirds, or quindes as they are known in Quito and the surrounding area, are tireless fairies, in charge of the flowers of the forest. These important pollinators with their hurried jig of metallic colours hold impressive secrets:
- They represent the small group of birds on the planet: the smallest species measures just 5 cm, around the size of an adult thumb.
- They are only found in America and have a special relationship with the Andes as they evolved at the same time as the majestic mountain range first began to rise.
- They have the fastest metabolism of all warm-blooded animals, with their tiny hearts beating more than 1,200 times a minute; 20 times more than our own hearts.
- They are able to maintain a constant flight above the same place, hovering like a drone as well as flying in all directions – forward, back, side to side, and all around – while other birds can only fly forwards.
- They have evolved in sync with the species of plants that they like the most. For this reason, there are a great variety of beaks, with strange shapes, specialised in being able to reach the precious nectar hidden within flowers and in turn to pollinate them in this agreement of mutual benefit.
- There are at least 22 species of quindes in Mashpi of the 130 species in Ecuador. These marvellous birds can be seen in the feeders area of the lodge, or also more clandestinely during walks through the forest, seeking them out between coloured flowers.