Energetics of Foraging: Rate and Efficiency of Nectar Extraction by Hummingbirds

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Science  23 Jun 1972:
Vol. 176, Issue 4041, pp. 1351-1352
DOI: 10.1126/science.176.4041.1351


The efficiency with which several species of hummingbirds extract nectar was estimated by converting the rate of extraction of nectar volumes to the energy expended and the energy obtained from the nectar. The extraction rates depend on corolla and bill morphologies, and the extraction efficiencies depend, in addition, on the bird weight and nectar concentration. Differential extraction efficiencies can be exploited by plants to increase pollinator specificity.