Habitat: South America; Bolivia, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru and Venezuela Status: Least Concern
The Sword Billed Hummingbird (Ensifera ensifera) is holding down the genus Ensiferaas the only living member. It’s noted for its exceptionally long bill which can reach 4 inches long. In comparison, the common Ruby-throated Hummingbird only reaches 3 inches in length – beak and body combined! The crazily exaggerated bill evolved to help the bird feed from tubular flowers like the fuchsia. It kind of reminds me of the ‘Pinocchio’ of the bird world… wonder if it lies all the time…
Sword-bills are the only birds that can reach nectar deep inside the corollas, and in the process of doing that, they transfer pollen from flower to flower. So the flowers are very thankful for the creature’s existence.And with such a long bill, the Sword Billed Hummingbird also has an extremely long tongue! When the bird perches, it holds its bill vertically in an effort to reduce strain on its neck.
Preening its feathers would be difficult with that bill, so the creature actually uses its feet to groom itself, as shown below:
and check out this picture of the bird’s skeleton – amazing!
I have a confession: I love animals. Join me and the rest of the Featured Creature community as we learn about the weirdest, coolest, and craziest animals out there. Including your dog, Mr. Scrufflebutt (if you submit him!).