The Hummingbird’s Tongue is 18 Inches Long…What?!

Temecula_Hummingbird1The quaint little bird we see hover at bird feeders and dash between flowers has some unusual characteristics for sure, but the hummingbird’s tongue is 18 inches long…what?!

I recently made an unexpected trip to Temecula. It seems in my exuberance to attend my first blogger’s conference, I messed up on the date. It was not until the following weekend (I wondered why the parking lot was so empty and there was a severe lack of conference signage).

Temecula_FaithDazed and confused from waking up at an hour most consider still night and driving the couple of hours to arrive on-time to the not-yet-happening conference, I stumbled down to Main Street Temecula. For the first hour it was strictly window shopping as most stores were not open at such an ugly (I mean early) hour. Then some life began percolating and stores started opening. One was The Little Viking Scandinavian Gift Shoppe. Seeing that Spaceman is Finnish and my ancestry (in part) is Norwegian, I went in. As I roamed the store I heard people discussing hummingbirds. I love these little creatures so I honed in on their conversation only to hear one of them tell an unsuspecting bird lover that the hummingbird’s tongue is 18 inches long…what?!

Temecula_VikingSuspecting from Gullible’s reaction of surprise and belief, I realized she had not grown up with three brothers who delighted in telling their baby sister outrageous stories and too often convincing her they were true (enough about me, back to Gullible). I barged into the conversation and asked where does this tiny bird keep this huge tongue? Without missing a beat, they said the tongue wraps around its brain! Loving their enthusiasm and conviction to stick with their story, I couldn’t help but get sucked in to the intricacies of their “bird brain” story.

Once back home and now curious about the hummingbird, I did some investigating. Here are my top three most interesting facts I learned about the hummingbird in my research:

1. Their tongues are split in two (some still debate that it is in the shape of a W) with small hairs lining the edge of it which help “catch” the nectar from the flowers as they lick it up. These hairs compress when back in the bill so that the hummingbird may enjoy the nectar.

2. They have excellent eyesight and can even see ultraviolet light, yet they have no sense of smell.

3. These little beauties are fast, reaching anywhere from 20-45 miles per hour when moving steadily forward and reaching up to 60 miles per hour when in a “courtship” dive. These dives are meant to show experience and lack of hesitancy which are both high on the ladies “must have” list when choosing a mate.

The one thing these birds do not have is an 18 inch long tongue!


*The hummingbird image is from Sharp Photography.

4 thoughts on “The Hummingbird’s Tongue is 18 Inches Long…What?!

  1. Hilarious about the driving all the way to Temecula on the wrong day. I’m sure it wasn’t funny at the time, but it sure makes for a good story! The great part is that you got to wander around old town Temecula which is pretty cute! Did you go back the next weekend! Also, I love the hummingbird facts. I always keep my hummingbird feeder full, but can’t get close enough to see their tongues! I’m now going to watch them with binoculars!!! thanks so much for that info!!!

    • Those hummingbirds are clever! So glad you liked the post. 🙂 I didn’t make the conference because we were out-of-town the following weekend…oh well, maybe next time!

  2. Interesting… I have 18 inches of hair wrapped around my brain. (Love those signs in the window by the way!!) :o)

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