Male Hummingbirds use Beaks as Weapons while Fighting for Mates

Male Hummingbirds use Beaks as Weapons while Fighting for Mates

The first thing that comes in mind when we think about the hummingbirds is its image of sweet little birds sampling flower nectar and moving their wings at an amazingly fast speed.

But the latest study has revealed that the male long-billed hermit hummingbirds make use of their beaks as their weapons. Hummingbirds stab in each other’s throat in the mating fights.

The hummingbird is about 15 cm long and has a mass of 6 grams. Its long bill is over 3 cm long and compliments their feeding habits. The male long-billed hermit hummingbirds belong to Costa Rica.

“We show here the first evidence that bills are also being shaped by sexual selection through male-male combat”, said Alejandro Rico-Guevara, a research associate at the University of Connecticut’s department of ecology and evolutionary biology.

The long-billed hermit birds frequently stab each other while battling for space where they want to mate with their female counterparts.

According to Rico-Guevara, to preserve the best territories the males continuously fight. The researchers noticed that these adult males made use of their beaks during the fights.

A comparison was done between the size and ability of sheer puncture of the juvenile and adult hummingbirds by Rico-Guevara and co-author Marcelo Araya-Salas, from New Mexico State University.

They came to know that as the hummingbirds become adults, the males developed longer beaks having sharper tips. The males’ beaks were sharper and larger as compared with their female counterparts.

The researchers said that the male hummingbirds with the longer and sharper beaks attain success in their competition of throat-stabbing. With the help of this, they have a better opportunity and best mating territories for their partners.