Hummingbirds


Photograph by Luis A. Mazariegos, National Geographic, January 2007

Pollen grains decorate the crown of a
male velvet-purple coronet resting on a bromeliad in Ecuador, evidence
of the bird’s value as a reliable pollinator. Hummingbirds spend almost
80 percent of their waking hours perched like this to conserve energy.
During chilly nights they can also enter torpor, a state in which their
body temperature can drop more than 40°F (22°C), curbing their need for
food until dawn. “Hummingbirds are incredibly flexible and adaptable,”
says Karl Schuchmann, an ornithologist at Germany’s Alexander Koenig
Zoological Research Institute and the Brehm Fund. “That’s the secret of
their success.”

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