Native to the southern US and parts of Mexico, the Costa's hummingbird has it all: gimbaling neck, wings that beat faster than the human eye can see ... and Cthulhu face. If ever an animal deserved a double take, it's this crazy dude:
Image: PBS Nature
In case you're wondering, that's not CGI! This very real footage was dished out by PBS Nature as a teaser for their upcoming programme titled "Super Hummingbirds". And if the show's violet star (Calypte costae) is any indication of what's in store, we'll most certainly be tuning in for the main event.

Only male birds of this species sport that colourful collar, which is used to attract a mate during the breeding season. It's actually possible that you've encountered one of these birds before without noticing it. That's because the flamboyant plumage sits flat against the neck when the hummer is at rest.
Costa's hummingbird at ease. Image: belen bilgic schneider/Flickr
The transformation from hummingbird normie to Lovecraftian wonder begins when an eligible female is near. After a sequence of arcing dive-bombs to pique her interest, the male will use tiny muscles to raise his woo-weapon. Those muscles can be flexed with varying degrees of tension, which allows the Costa's hummingbird to fine-tune both the angle and position of each feather. Set against the hot desert sun, his iridescent mask is set ablaze.
While the desert doesn't seem like a great habitat for a nectar-slurping animal, Costa's hummingbirds cope with the dry landscape by feeding on native plants like agave and desert honeysuckle. When their sugary fare is in short supply, they'll also feed on insects. 

"Hummers may be the smallest birds in the world, but what they lack in size, they make up in speed and the ability to adapt in ways we're just beginning to learn about as they continue to evolve," says the PBS Nature team. It took some 2,000 hours of filming to catch wild hummingbirds in the act of mating, but the crew assures us that's only the beginning of what they captured!

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Top header image: belen bilgic schneider/Flick