With the exception of insects, hummingbirds while in flight have the highest metabolism of all animals, a necessity in order to support the rapid beating of their wings during hovering and fast forward flight. Their heart rate can reach as high as 1,260 beats per minute, a rate once measured in a blue-throated hummingbird, with a breathing rate of 250 breaths per minute, even at rest. During flight, oxygen consumption per gram of muscle tissue in a hummingbird is approximately 10 times higher than that seen for elite human athletes.
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