The sword-billed hummingbird has an interesting scientific name. Ensifera ensifera. This is because it is the only species in the Ensifera genus. But that is just the beginning of this birds peculiarities.
Why is the sword-billed hummingbird different from normal hummingbirds?
The hummingbird family has undergone exceptional diversification. With 338 known species it is one of the largest diverse groups of birds belonging to the same family. Due to different immediate environments and variations in the types of flowers available, hummingbirds have evolved a varied assortment of beaks. This is one of the reasons of their rapid diversification. It is quite interesting to know that all of these different species still share a common food source. Flower nectar.
The sword-billed hummingbird is a sub-species. It is mostly found in Latin America. It is the only bird to have a beak longer than its body. The sword-billed hummingbird’s uniqueness is mostly derived from this incredible feature. Due to its long bill, which can reach lengths of up to 4 inches, it has a long tongue. And it is also one of the only birds to use its feet to clean its body. An activity called preening. It also has a slightly diagonal stance with its head pointing upwards in order to balance itself.
Check out the video below to see the sword-billed hummingbird holding its bill slightly upward and foot-preening itself.
The bird uses its long bill to gather nectar from flowers with long corollas, or nectar tubes. Since it is the only bird that can reach a long flower’s nectar tubes, it is directly involved in the spreading of pollens from that flower. In this way, the sword-billed hummingbird, similar to quite a few other species of hummingbirds, forms unique mutualisms with certain species of flowers in its habitat.