Hummingbird Tongue Is A High Speed Nectar Pump

Posted: Aug 20 2015, 1:50pm CDT | by , Updated: Aug 20 2015, 1:53pm CDT, in News | Latest Science News


Hummingbird Tongue is a High Speed Nectar Pump
A juvenile male Black-throated Mango hummingbird (Anthracothorax nigricollis) extends his tongue after feeding. A hummingbird can extend its tongue twice the length of the bill to reach the nectar inside flowers. Photo Credit: Kristiina Hurme

New research found that Hummingbirds pump nectar and not just lick it.

The Science about Hummingbirds has to be rewritten according to a new study. The tongue of the Hummingbird works like a pump. It is not just licking nectar. The tiny fast moving bird has invented a fast way to suck nectar. 

Hummingbirds are just not very patient. 

Alejandro Rico Guevara and Margaret Rubega from the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology and Tai-Hsi Fan from the School of Engineering found out that fluid is actually drawn into the tongue by the elastic expansion of the tongues grooves after they are squeezed flat by the beak.

During the offloading of the nectar inside the bill, hummingbirds compress their tongues upon extrusion. 

The compressed tongue remains flattened until it contacts the nectar surface, after which the tongue reshapes, filling entirely with nectar.

The expansive filling mechanism uses the elastic recovery properties of the groove walls to load nectar on the tongue in an order of magnitude that allows the hummingbirds to extract nectar at higher rates than are predicted by capillarity-based foraging models.

Rico-Guevara says, "Our research shows how hummingbirds really drink and provides the first mathematical tools to accurately model their energy intake, which in turn informs our understanding of their foraging decisions and ecology."

The results have been published in a paper titled Hummingbird tongues are elastic micropumps published in the August 19 issue of Proceedings of the Royal Society B.

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The Author

<a href="/latest_stories/all/all/2" rel="author">Luigi Lugmayr</a>
Luigi Lugmayr () is the founding chief Editor of I4U News and brings over 15 years experience in the technology field to the ever evolving and exciting world of gadgets. He started I4U News back in 2000 and evolved it into vibrant technology magazine.
Luigi can be contacted directly at




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