Phenomena

How Hummingbirds Drink

Hummingbirds are incredible acrobatic fliers, capable of hovering for more than 30 seconds at a time, even in windy conditions. Their feeding habits are equally impressive. Many species of hummingbirds have a forked tongue, each half of which curls over like a partial straw. As the bird extends its tongue, its beak compresses the space inside the tongue’s curls. Once in the nectar, both halves of the tongue re-expand, pulling liquid in along the full length of the tongue. For the birds, this is a much faster technique than simply sucking the nectar up like a straw. Hummingbirds can lick nectar more than ten times a second this way. For more gorgeous imagery of hummingbirds, be sure to check out National Geographic’s full feature. (Image credit: A. Varma, source; via Aarthi S.)

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