About us: We own the Wild Birds Unlimited nature shop in East Lansing, Michigan,
a store that provides a wide variety of supplies to help you enjoy the birdwatching hobby.

This blog was created to answer frequently asked questions & to share nature stories and photographs.
To contribute, email me at bloubird@gmail.com.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Hummingbirds hunt and eat insects as well as nectar

When you think of hummingbirds you probably think nectar. Hummingbirds eat nectar from flowers and sap from trees to provide them with quick energy. Nectar is the bird equivalent of Kool-Aid; it's not much more than sugar and water.

Throughout the day a hummer drinks more than half its body weight in nectar. But you can't live on sugar alone, and the birds must supplement their carbohydrate-rich diet with daily helpings of insects to get necessary fats and amino acids that they aren't getting in nectar.

Hummingbirds spend more than 25% of their time foraging for arthropods, such as spiders. The pointy hummingbird bill isn’t only for prying into flowers for nectar; it’s also made for snatching bugs out of the air.

Hummingbirds are excellent hunters. They can catch insects in flight, or pluck them from leaves, or catch spiders from their webs. (Sometimes I suggest throwing old fruit or banana peels near your hummingbird feeders to attract fruit flies for the hummers.)

When a hummingbird goes for an insect, it rushes at it with its mouth wide open, and the lower half of its bill can bend downward, even though it has no joint. But they're so fast it takes a camera that films 500 frames a second to capture the move.
Hummingbirds: Magic in the Air is a Nature documentary on PBS that explains how these tiny birds survive. You can watch the full episode online at: http://video.pbs.org/video/1380512531/ 

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