[Kevin]: Hummingbirds are magical creatures. Magical! I’m willing to bet that no one who has ever seen one has walked without being mesmerized.

They can hover in mid-air, just hanging there. And then they flash you with a brilliant, iridescent smack of green or red before they disappear!

How do they move like that? What makes their feathers so beautiful?

Hi, I’m Kevin McGowan. This self-paced, online course reveals the science of what makes a hummingbirds so fascinating.

We’ll learn how hummingbirds hover and fly backwards. We’ll take a close look at their colorful feathers to see what makes them so special. And we’ll find out how they are able to get nectar out of impossibly long flowers—it might not be quite how you think!

We’ll explore the diversity of hummingbirds, like emeralds, comets, starthroats, fairies, and more.

And we’ll discover ways that you can help and connect with hummingbirds, no matter where you are.

If you’re as fascinated by hummingbirds as I am, I hope you’ll join me for this course.

End of transcript

Unlock the World of Hummingbirds

Hummingbirds are mesmerizing. They hover, dazzle, and shine. They fight, pollinate, and migrate. How and why do they do it? Find out with renowned bird expert and ornithologist Kevin McGowan as your guide. This course delivers a worldwide look at the diversity and lifestyles of these tiny birds that defy expectation and showcase incredible adaptations.

  • Explore the mind-bending diversity of the earth's 360+ species
  • Learn how hummingbirds harness color and iridescence
  • Discover how hummingbirds achieve their athletic feats
  • Find out how to make your space hummingbird friendly

The Wonderful World of Hummingbirds

Enroll Now
About This Course
  • Lessons inside: 4
  • Topics inside: 20
  • Completion time (estimated): 3 hours
  • Instructional videos: 15
  • Total instructional video time: 55 minutes
  • Level: Beginner
  • Categories: Bird Biology, Nature Appreciation
  • Regionality: Anywhere – Non-regional
  • Discussion groups to keep you learning
  • Self-paced, no expiration date, 100% online
  • 60-day refund guarantee
Peruvian Racket-Tail at flower
Image: Gretchen Locy | Macaulay Library
Peruvian Racket-tail, Ecuador

Why I Made This Course

"Hummingbirds never fail to fascinate. Among the most colorful and adorned birds on the planet, their names say it all. Who doesn’t want to spend time getting to know the mountain-gems, brilliants, racket-tails, pufflegs, and sapphirewings of the world? And so much of what they do doesn’t seem possible—yet they hover in midair, some migrate across continents, and when they flash their radiant colors, it feels like magic! I made this course to share the beauty and science of these tiny wonders with you. Join me!"

—Kevin McGowan, Ph.D., Course Instructor
Rufous Hummingbird
Image: Derek Lecy | Macaulay Library
Rufous Hummingbird, California

What's Inside

The world of hummingbirds is bigger than most of us can imagine. This self-paced course features instructional videos, photo galleries, and interactive learning tools that reveal new dimensions of hummingbird life. Experience hummingbirds’ flashy transformations and discover the feather structures behind the magic, get up to speed on how they fly, and see how their bizarre tongues work. You’ll learn how to attract and protect them, plus receive special photography tips. This course is designed for anyone interested in hummingbirds and delivers a fun, science-infused look at these “flying jewels.”

Take a Free Peek Inside the Course

Preview three videos and one interactive from The Wonderful World of Hummingbirds

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Course Overview

Lesson 1:
What Makes a Hummingbird a Hummingbird

Delve into the diversity of hummingbirds and explore how they achieve those flashy iridescent colors.

Lesson 2:
How Hummingbirds Rule the Nectar World

Learn the secrets behind how a hummingbird hovers, laps nectar, and saves energy at night.

Lesson 3:
Life of a Hummingbird

Revel in the world of hummingbirds’ miniature behaviors, from bathing to raising young.

Lesson 4:
Finding and Connecting with Hummingbirds

Learn the best ways to see hummingbirds near and far, and find out what you can do to help hummingbirds in your own area.

Meet the Course Instructor

Kevin McGowan, Ph.D.
Professional Ornithologist, World Series of Birding Champion
Course instructor Kevin McGowan combines deep knowledge about birds with a passion for helping others learn. He is a professional ornithologist at...
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Satisfaction Guarantee

Our educators and birding experts take pride in the courses they create. If you're not satisfied with the material for ANY reason, contact us within 60 days of the start of the course or purchase for a full refund.

Alternative Course Access

Birds can inspire people accross boundaries to build a more sustainable world. At Bird Academy we want to share the love and knowledge of birds! If you would like alternative access to this course, please take a look at our Take Flight Program

Small flying bird with long pointed bill, blue tail, white belly, and sparkly fuschia and orange throat
Image: Susanna Lewis de Amable | Macaulay Library
Bee Hummingbird, Cuba

This Course is Entirely Online

There’s nothing to be shipped, and no additional material is necessary. Bird Academy courses are online, self-paced, and have no deadline to complete. You can return to them for reference or practice as often as you want. All course material, practice tools, instructional videos, and discussion boards are available through your web browser. Learn anytime, anywhere*. Gain the skills and understanding you’re looking for.

*Requires an internet connection and a modern web browser.

Course Instructor: Kevin McGowan
Course Developers: Marla Coppolino, Laura Helft, and Jill Leichter
Video Producer and Editor: Jess Ahearn
Animator and Additional Editor: Shayna Muller
Studio Producer: Gary Bain, eCornell
Assistant Editor: Daniella Garcia Almeida
Graphic Designer: Jill Leichter
Scientific Illustration: Marla Coppolino
Web Designer: Jeff Szuc
Copy Editor: Jill Leichter
Marketing and Promotion: Bobby Stickel and Katherine Welch
Student Support: Lee Ann van Leer
Executive Producers: Laura Helft and Mya Thompson
Special Thanks: Glenn Bartley, Marta del Campo, Josée Rousseau, Anusha Shankar, Amanda Ryan, Domenick Zerilli, Don DesJardin, Paul Fenwick, Tyler Wenzel, Marc Devokaitis, Jillian Ditner, Frederic Gleach, Lorna Gibson, Mary Margaret Ferraro, Tayler Brooks, and Jay McGowan.

Credits for thumbnail image (clockwise from top left):
Costa's Hummingbird, Acadia Kocher/Macaulay Library
White-necked Jacobin, Stefano Ianiro/Macaulay Library
Sparkling Violetear, Dorian Anderson/Macaulay Library
Indigo-capped Hummingbird, Thibaud Aronson/Macaulay Library
Purple-throated Carib, Kevin Beckoff/Macaulay Library
Anna's Hummingbird, Eric Ellingson/Macaulay Library
Ruby-topaz Hummingbird, Phillip Edwards/Macaulay Library
Crimson Topaz, Javier Mesa-Bolivar/Macaulay Library

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