Ruby-throated Hummingbird is a tiny creature in a big world, so adapting
to its environment is crucial for it's survival. Below is a list of
hummingbirds' adaptations and an explanation of how this advancement aids them in their daily life.
Long, narrow bill and tongue
The slender shape of the beak allows them to feed on nectar located in deep
cupped flowers (their primary food source). Their tongue is abnormally
lined with tiny hairs for quickly extracting nectar out of flowers.
Flexible lower beak
lower bill, which widens and bends downward as the bird opens its mouth, allows them to "scoop" insects out of the air while in flight.
Type I Muscle Fibers
Ruby-throats are almost constantly in motion, and with an average wing speed of
50 beats/second, they need something to prevent them from tiring. Their pectoral
muscles are composed of close to 100% of Type I muscle fibers. These reddish fibers utilize
oxidative metabolism, so they are good for endurance and are slow to tire.
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I muscle fibers and oxidative metabolism
temperatures drop or food conditions are poor, hummingbirds can go into torpor. Torpor is a very deep sleep-like state in which metabolic functions are significantly slowed down and body temperature is very low. This act is sometimes necessary because feathers supply poor insulation and they have incredibly high metabolic demands, making maintaining such a high body
temperature (~105 degrees F) and metabolic rate difficult.