Hummingbirds - WikiVisually

Posted October 30, 2017

Hummingbirds , Hummingbirds , Hummingbirds birds fly or hermits , quindes are a clade of apodiform birds endemic to America that has more than 300 species. They are tiny American birds that are characterized by the color of their plumage, their way of flying and by the peculiar habits of feeding that they possess. They emit a buzzing with their wings, which move faster than any other bird, to the extent that they do not distinguish themselves when they fly.

According to some authors, like Charles Sibley, b> Trochiliformes , for others it is classified within the order Apodiformes along with the swifts. Among its members are some of the smallest birds in the world. The family comprises more than 100 genera that are divided into a total of 330 to 340 species.

The family is divided into two subfamilies:

Phaethornithinae which includes hermits . They have three front fingers glued to the base. They also have extremely elongated central steering rods.

Trochilinae including hummingbirds. They have separate toes. Their tail feathers are not elongated.

Distribution and habitat

They frequent places where honeysuckle and similar plants grow, they feed on the nectar and the small insects they find inside the flowers. As they go from one to another plant, they also contribute to pollinating them, just like bees do.

Hummingbirds can only perch on branches, as they are unable to walk or run on the ground. They build their nests using spider webs, moss and lichens, and secure them to sturdy branches and leaves, well above ground level.

Hummingbirds feed on nectar of flowers and are important pollinators, especially of flowers with corolla of tubular form. Just like bees can calculate the amount of sugar in a flower and overlook those that are suitable to their needs. They prefer a sugar content of about 25% and if it drops to less than 15% do not drink it. Nectar is an energetic food but is poor in protein, vitamins and minerals. That is why hummingbirds supplement their feeding with insects and spiders and especially use these to feed their offspring.

Most hummingbirds have long, fine and straight peaks, but in some species the shape of the beak is adapted for a special feeding. Chalcostigma have short and sharp peaks to feed on flowers with short corolla and to perforate the base of long corolla. Others have a curved beak that they use in flowers with corolla of that form such as those of the family Gesneriaceae. Avocettula recurvirostris are curved upwards like avocets, family Recurvirostridae.

The two parts of the peak of the hummingbird overlap and fit in such a way that the hummingbird can open slightly the beak and draw the long tongue when they release nectar.

Like Nectariniidae and unlike other birds the hummingbird has a tongue that can bend the edges forming a tube that allows you to release nectar.

The flight consumes a lot of energy, so the hummingbird spends a lot of the time at rest and therefore also needs frequent meals, consuming small invertebrates as well as nectar. In total it consumes up to five times its body weight per day. On average, 10 to 15% of their time is spent feeding and 75 to 80% resting and digesting.

Coevolution with ornithophylous flowers

The flowers pollinated by hummingbirds usually have colors in shades of red, orange and bright pink; although they do not hesitate to visit flowers of other colors. Hummingbirds can see light waves near ultraviolet but flowers visited by hummingbirds do not reflect such waves unlike many flowers pollinated by insects. It may be that these flowers are less attractive to insects and that they do not visit or steal the nectar.

The nectar of flowers pollinated by hummingbirds usually has a sugar content of around 25 % and high concentrations of sucrose, while that of insect-pollinated flowers has higher sugar concentrations and fructose and glucose predominate.