As regular CFZ-watchers will know, for some time Corinna has been doing a column for Animals & Men and a regular segment on On The Track... particularly about out-of-place birds and rare vagrants. There seem to be more and more bird stories from all over the world hitting the news these days so, to make room for them all - and to give them all equal and worthy coverage - she has set up this new blog to cover all things feathery and Fortean.

Friday, 21 August 2015

Unusual Hummingbird tongues are tiny pumps that spring open to draw in nectar

Scientists have found that the brightly-coloured bird's tongue acts like a tiny pump. The specialised body part allows the tiny creatures to extract nectar from flowers as they hover over them, beating their wings at up to 50 times a second.
Editor : Jonathan Edwards 
Category : SCIENCE20 August 2015 / Thursday 00:34:13

Over 180 years of theories and estimations have suffered a severe alteration when it was recently discovered that a hummingbird’s tongue uses pumping, not suction when taking in nectar, according to a series of experiments.

Previous to these findings, scientists believed that the colorful and fascinating birds used capillary action to draw their energy source from a variety of plants. The process implied the liquid flowing through the very narrow space and slurping it up even against gravity.

The assumption was first made due to the fact that the bird’s tongue presents itself with two cylinder like grooves, according to lead researcher of the paper and associate of functional morphology at University of Connecticut, Alejandro Rico-Guevara. However, the very slow method did not sound like something a hummingbird would do.

The colorful birds flap their wings up to 50 times per second, hovering above flowers while they’re extracting nectar. They’re creatures of speed and nature ingenuity, so every millisecond counts.

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