Published on Sep 2, 2012
captured this little humming bird sticking his tongue out. it was just starting to rain a bit so he may have been trying to catch a few rain drops LOL © 2012 - Dianne Campbell. All rights reserved
HUMMING BIRD INFO
The Tiniest Egg: The smallest birds come from the smallest eggs. But how small? The one to two eggs in a ruby-throated hummingbird clutch are about as tiny as peas and are placed in a walnut-shell sized cup woven from spider webs and plant material.
To their maneuverability, hummingbirds add speed and stamina. Hummingbirds have been clocked at close to 30 mph indirect flight and more than 45 mph during courtship dives. Migratory ruby-throated hummingbirds have no problem flying 18 to 20 straight hours to cross the Gulf of Mexico, powered by their fat stores and given a bit of help from winds.
Asleep on the Job: Hummingbirds are one of the few groups of birds that are known to go into torpor. Torpor is a very deep sleep-like state in which metabolic functions are slowed to a minimum and a very low body temperature is maintained. If torpor lasted for long periods, we would call it hibernation, but hummingbirds can go into torpor any night of the year when temperature and food conditions demand it.
Hummingbirds are the masters of torpor because the have to be. Their feathers offer poor insulation and they have incredibly high metabolic demands. Torpor allows them to check-out physiologically when they cant maintain their normal 105° body temperature.
Their tongue is weird even for a bird because, in addition to being really flat and not fleshy at the tip, it is split into two branches like a snake's tongue. ( bifurcated)
The end of each tip is edged with this fringe, ( like the edge of a buckskin moccasin) They make the tongue tip itself look like a feather, because it's subdivided into these flaps. And when the tongue is at rest, those flaps are rolled up in a way that makes each of those tongue tips into a tubular shape. And when the bird is not doing anything with the tongue and it's just in its mouth, those two tips are stuck together, so their tongue just looks like a kind of a flat-pointy thing.
The hummingbird has a long tube-shaped beak, and the way we've always understood that is that that long beak and the equally long tongue - in fact, their tongue is quite a bit longer than their beak. They can extrude that tongue, stick it outside their mouth as far outside their mouth as their beak is long. So it's way out of their beak when they want it to. If it's a liquid, such as nectar from a flower, then they drink pretty much like cats and dogs...they just lap the liquid up with their tongues. If it's a small insect, they wrap the end of the tongue around their snack and quickly pull it in.
The tongue actually - once those tips get into the fluid, they spread wide apart from one another, and those flaps open out flat so that they're covered with as much fluid as they can be. And then when the bird takes its tongue back out, pulls it back out of the nectar pool, the little flaps roll over and trap the fluid on the tongue that they're actively grabbing, in a way, the fluid that's in the pool. So that when the bird pulls its tongue out, some of the fluid comes with it. Data from Smithsonian Migratory Bird Center
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