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University of California
Join The Pollen Nation!

Birds


Birds

When pollination is carried out by birds, it is called "Ornithophily." Hummingbirds, spiderhunters, sunbirds, honeycreepers and honeyeaters are the most common species of birds who pollinate.

Hummingbird facts

  • The smallest birds in the world, hummingbirds weigh as little as 2.5 grams, the weight of a penny.
  • They can fly forward, backward and hover.
  • They can travel 600 miles at 25 miles per hour, some journeying 3,000 miles a year.
  • They’re capable of flying in bursts up to 60 miles per hour while their wings beat 80 times per second.

Hummingbird and bees

  • Hummingbirds are native only to the Americas.
  • They have good eyesight and are attracted to mainly red flowers, but they have a poor sense of smell.
  • Bird-pollinated flowers are brightly colored but lack odor, and their petals are curved in order to be out of the way of hovering birds.
  • In the typical day of a hummingbird, their heart beats 1000 times a minute and increases to 10-80 beats a second once they start flapping their wings. They also need to keep their body temperature near 104 degrees Fahrenheit!

Hummingbird

  • They need a lot of calories to fuel themselves and it would only take a few hours with food before they would starve to death if they kept flying.
  • Hummingbirds must eat several times their weight in nectar everyday! For protein, they supplement their sugary diet with small insects.
  • Every night, hummingbirds slow down their heartbeat, making their body temperatures drop down to as low as 68 degrees Fahrenheit. This way, they need significantly less calories to keep warm. In the morning, it will take the hummingbird up to an hour to warm back up and zip off to find more food.

Other Bird Pollinator Facts

  • Sunbirds and spiderhunters mostly feed on nectar, although when feeding young, they often also eat insects.
  • Sunbird species can drink nectar while hovering, but usually perch to feed. Their long curved beaks and long, brush-tipped tongues make these birds particularly suited to feeding on and pollinating tubular flowers.
  • Honeyeaters resemble hummingbirds in many ways, but are not capable of lengthy hovering flight.
  • Honeyeaters quickly flit from perch to perch, stretching or hanging upside down in order to reach the nectar with their brush-tipped tongue.

Use #PollenNation when you see pollinators in your city, town, yard or garden. We want to see how you’re a part of the #PollenNation!

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