Hummingbird are these living muses in bird town, who look fascinating, live a fascinating life and sing noisy and territorial songs, not that fascinating. Well, maybe we would all be so if we drank nectar all day and got drunk by the fulfilling taste of it. Scientists have long speculated that the creatures used capillary action to sip nectar. This capillary action is like when you place a tube in a glass of liquid and see the water travel up through the narrow space without any suction force.
Well, scientists were wrong. Hummingbird tongues are weird. So weird that they act like elastic micro pumps, allowing the creatures to sip at extremely rapid speeds.
Researchers have conducted a study to prove the finding and the results were gathered in the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences.
It seems that the grooves in the bird’s tongue don’t work to reach the throat and this means that the creature cannot use them as tiny straws. Their suction power works like a tiny pump instead of using vacuum, as it was previously thought.
The bird works its magic and squashes the tongue flat and when it springs open, the expansion quickly pulls the nectar into the spaces in its tongue. As experts have noted, their tongues work on elastic energy, namely a kind of potential mechanical energy which is stored by the process of flattening the tongue.
This entire complex process allows the creatures to collect and ingest nectar much faster than they could have done it through capillary processes.
Basically, humming birds rapidly slurp up nectar.
To come up with the extremely interesting findings, researchers took measurements from seven countries belonging to the American continent. They had the chance to observe free living, never captured hummingbirds that did their thing, sipped nectar, fled all day long, squashed their tongues and were liberated and happy.
They analyzed the creatures feeding at modified transparent feeders which simulated nectar volumes and concentration of hummingbird pollinated flowers. Ultimately, experts have measured 96 foraging bouts and 32 focal birds belonging to 18 species from seven out of the total of nine main hummingbird species.
Image Source: naturedocumentaries.org