Whenever we think or hear about the hummingbirds, the first thing coming to mind is its image of sweet little pacifistic flappers sampling flower nectar. Providing a new insight into the evolution of the hummingbirds, a new study has exposed it as a stabber.
According to the researchers, the latest study has found that the male long-billed hermit hummingbirds use their beaks as weapons. These hummingbirds stab in each other’s throat in the mating battle.
The male long-billed hermit hummingbirds are the tropical natives of 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 often stab each other, as a part of the mating rituals, while fighting for space where they wish to mate with their female counterparts.
Rico-Guevara said, “The males are constantly fighting to maintain the best territories.”
The researchers observed that these adult males used their beaks in their fights.
Rico-Guevara and co-author Marcelo Araya-Salas, from New Mexico State University, carried a comparison between the size and capability of sheer puncture of the juvenile and adult hummingbirds. They found that as the hummingbirds grew older and became adults, the males developed longer beaks having sharper tips. The males’ beaks were sharper and bigger than their female counterparts.
According to the researchers, the male hummingbirds with the longer and sharper beaks win their competition of throat-stabbing. This helped them in getting a better opportunity and best mating territories for their partners.
The study was published in the journal Behavioral Ecology.