When it comes to nectar, the hummingbird is notorious for its highly competitive nature. “Their high-energy lifestyle compels hummingbirds to locate reliable food resources” and then to defend them once found. In the forests of western Colombia, this need to compete has reshaped tooth-billed hummingbird beaks into “strong, sharp and dangerous weapons”.
The males use their bills to stab other males, and to fence — feinting and parrying, sometimes knocking the other bird off a perch. Some hummingbirds even have hooked beaks, with serrations that look like shark’s teeth. Dr. Rico-Guevara’s high-speed video shows males tearing out another bird’s feathers with those grippers.
James Gorman shares the research and an up-close look at this ‘tooth’-filled beak in The Hummingbird as Warrior: Evolution of a Fierce and Furious Beak, a Science Take article and video from The New York Times.
Watch these next: Hummingbird Battleground in the Talamanca Mountains and UCLA’s Hummingbird Whisperer.