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Old 05-02-2011, 04:25 PM   #1
Great Horned Owl
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Location: Northeastern MA
Default How Hummingbirds drink (video included)

"Since the theory was first put forth in 1833, ornithologists have assumed that hummingbirds drink by capillary action: The bird curls its forked tongue into a straw shape, and the liquid is drawn up the tube by surface tension."

"The edges of a hummingbird’s tongue are lined with lamellae, a fringe of hairlike fleshy extensions. The tongue is wet when it encounters the nectar, the tongue’s two tips are tightly closed, and the lamellae are flattened against it. Then the tip of the tongue separates and the lamellae extend from each fork. As the bird pulls its tongue in past the surface of the liquid, the tongue tips come together, and the lamellae roll inward, trapping the nectar. At that point, Dr. Rubega said, capillary action probably moves the liquid into the throat."

A Hard-Working Tongue Tool Helps Hummingbirds Drink - NYTimes.com
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