The Variety of Hummingbirds

black chinned hummingbird
Most of you probably knew right away that these birds are hummingbirds but did you know more about them than their name? For example, did you know why they have that big long bill? Hummingbirds are nectar eaters, using that long beak, and equally long tongue, to dip deep into flowers to get the sweet sap. By doing this normal feeding activity, hummingbirds are the major pollinators of some types of flowers. Did you know hummingbirds are also insectivores? They eat just as many insects as they sip nectar. In fact, insects are a super important food source for baby hummingbirds still in the nest.

Did you notice these bird's wings? They are specially designed too. Most birds can't hover and eat from a flower. Most birds would have to sit on something and try to reach the flower. Not always an easy task. A hummingbird very rapidly moves their wings in a figure 8 pattern allowing them to suspend themselves above a flower while they eat. This gives them a definite advantage in the abundance of food sources available to them. If you watch hummingbirds you know they will sit and eat when that is possible. Hovering is a high energy consuming activity so hummingbirds will take the easier route whenever possible.

Hummingbirds are an extreme example of coloration differences among the genders. Male hummingbirds not only have more colorful plummage but also have extra bright, reflecting bibs of feathers on their throats called gorgets. Now that's something to catch the eye of a mate.

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hummingbirds with identification
broadtail hummer at penstemon

Last updated: November 24, 2020

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