How long are hummingbird tongues? (Need answer fast)

OK, maybe not “fast,” but here’s the scoop. The pair of hummingbirds visiting our backyard feeders has turned into a minimum of eight or nine hummingbirds (possibly juveniles – it’s hard to tell). I had two 8-12 oz feeders out, and they’ll now drain them in about 12 daylight hours.

So I went and bought a 4-cup feeder, which is basically a round shallow tray that the water goes in, with a slightly inverted-bowl top, which has the usual flower-design-with-holes. The hummers still drain the other two feeders in record time, but they don’t seem to drain the big one. Now I’m not around during the day, so I haven’t had a chance to watch them: it could be that they haven’t really discovered it yet, or that it’s just surviving longer because of the comparatively massive amount of liquid in it…but looking at it now, I’m having another thought.

Because of the slope of the bowl and the angle of the flowers, I think that the distance from the outside of the “flower” holes and the bottom of the liquid tray is about 2 inches: probably 1.75 times the length of the hummingbird beak. The bulk of the liquid, of course, is at the bottom. Now I know that the tongue extends at least a little past the end of the beak: you can see it flicking around sometimes just after they drink. But does it extend a great distance past? In other words, can they even get to the liquid in the feeder? It would seem like the designer would take that into account, but maybe they wanted form over function.

Their tongues are rather impressively long (just the thing for extracting nectar from deep flowers). Googling suggests they can extend about a bill’s length past the end of the bill.

Here’s a video that shows this (albeit not for long).

Ah, thanks; that video makes it pretty clear they should be able to get to the bottom, then.

if you haven’t seen them feed at the new one they maybe they haven’t found it yet. maybe take down one of your other feeders temporarily and this might encourage more foraging.

A hummingbird uses its tongue to lick up nectar. One source stated that a hummingbird’s tongue can be thought of as being a straw with a slot cut in it. The hummingbird licks up nectar at the rapid rate of approximately 13 licks per second.The tongue of the hummingbird is actually quite long at roughly twice the length of the bird’s bill or 3/4 of an inch long. Female hummingbirds’ tongues are longer then the males.