Last Updated on December 18, 2021 by Griselda M.
Ever wondered if hummingbirds have their beaks open especially when they feed? We have seen and heard of so many attributes these sweet charming birds possess. One interesting attribute you may be interested in is their beak.
Hummingbirds are simply phenomenal creatures that most people would love to know more about them. This is why we hummingbird lovers attract them to our yards and garden.
These birds have this unique and distinctive attributes that make them stand out from every other bird. This means their anatomy is somewhat different from every other bird in the world but they still have some similarities to other regular birds.
Part of their anatomy includes their beak and this is one feature we will be focusing on in this article. So, let’s look into if hummingbirds do open their beaks while they are engaging in various activities.
Before we look into if hummingbird beaks do open, let’s briefly look into their anatomy. Hummingbirds have this fascinating anatomy. They are endowed with some amazing attributes that make them more interesting to study. Hummingbirds also possess some distinctive attributes that make them different or unique from other birds.
The anatomy of a creature simply means the comprehensive study of the arrangement of their body parts and patterns.
Hummingbirds have the body parts that every other regular bird has which include the crown, a tail, and wings.
However, the major parts of hummingbird’s anatomy include their beak, crown, throat, wings, flanks, auriculars, legs, under tail coverts, tail, posterior, chin, and bosom. All these multiple parts can help us identify hummingbirds easily.
So, once you’ve learned and accustomed yourself to their unique body parts, you can simply become a pro identifying these birds even when they are hovering about in their fast active mode.
However, the two most distinctive or unique features about hummingbirds that differentiate them from other birds are their tongue and heart rate. Their tongue does the main job of sipping nectar and satisfying their heavy appetite. Then because hummingbirds are vigorous birds, their heart rate can beat as fast as 1,200 beats per minute.
Hummingbird Beak – Some Facts About Them
When you hear about the beak of birds, what may come to your mind is tearing or cracking. But this isn’t true all the time. Some bird beaks are used for dipping and sipping and hummingbird is one of them.
The beaks of the sweet hummers are long and needle-like and they use this beak to probe deep into nectar flowers or feeders. The beak of hummingbirds differs depending on species and their sizes. Some hummingbirds’ beaks may even be longer than the size of their body.
Hummingbird’s beak or bill length can range from as short as 8 millimeters to as long as 119 millimeters. Meaning they can range approximately 0.3 to 4 inches.
The beak of hummingbirds is like a protective sheath found around their mouth and this protects a more important part which is their tongue.
The different types of hummingbird species will go for the type of flowers that comfortably suits the size and shape of their beak. Even though we mostly see hummers that have a straight needle-like beak, some species also have a curve-down beak shape.
The shapes allow these birds to comfortably fit into nectar chambers of flowers making them feed faster and efficiently. This is why some hummingbird species have adapted or developed curved beaks.
Do Hummingbirds Beaks Open When They Sip Nectar?
So, let’s find out if hummingbirds’ beaks do open when they sip their juicy nectar. Hummingbirds actually have their beak closed when they sip or feed through nectar solutions.
They rather probe or stick their tongue into nectar juice and draw up fluids. So, their beak needs to be closed when doing this to complete their feeding task.
Hence, these sweet hummers don’t make use of their beak to feed. They have two troughs or feeding channels at the end or tip of their tongue.
Hummingbird tongue length tends to be as long as their bill. They have the ability to stretch their tongue and pull it back when sipping nectar. They can even let out or stretch out their tongue from 3 to as much as 13 times while sipping nectar, all in just a second. They don’t even need to open their beak when doing this.
Can Hummingbirds Open Their Beaks?
Now one question we would like to know is if hummingbirds actually open their beaks. Well, if you’re a close watcher of these birds as they sip nectar, you may notice that their long beak does not look like it can open. Movement from their beak is usually not visible as they sip nectar.
However, because hummingbirds are also known to feed on small insects, their beaks need to open for them to catch these insects. They do this with the help of the jaw reflexing downwards. This implies that the hummingbird’s beak slightly opens automatically giving a gap for them to execute this plan.
Can Hummingbird’s Beak Bend?
Hummingbirds have the bottom of their beak to be partially flexible. Hence, the lower part of their beak can bend to at least 25 degrees. Therefore, this allows hummingbirds to gain access to difficult places to reach for food without breaking their beak.
Hummingbird’s beak is flexible and can adapt to allow them to have access to nectars in flowers and feeders. However, with this flexibility feature, they can, unfortunately, damage or break their beak.
You may however come across a hummingbird having an odd hooked beak shape. If the shape of the beak is unusual, it may be that the bird has damaged its beak. The bird may have even broken its beak somewhere along the line.
There is only little you can do to help a hummingbird that has a damaged beak. The majority of hummingbirds that have damaged beaks will end up adapting to hook beaks or damaged beaks. So, they can still keep on feeding at flowers and feeding stations as usual.
So, we have learned that hummingbirds actually do not open their beaks while they sip nectar. But they can slightly open their beak especially when they need to catch small insects.
Eunice is a passionate lover of hummingbirds and all things nature. She loves to observe and study the tiny birds, learning about their unique behaviors and unique features. She has written a number of articles about hummingbirds and their habitats, which have been featured in a variety of publications. In her spare time, she enjoys visiting hummingbird sanctuaries and going on bird–watching trips in her local area. She also volunteers with local wildlife rescue organizations, helping to rehabilitate injured birds. When she’s not outdoors, Eunice can be found writing articles, creating bird–inspired art, and playing the flute.