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BirdNote: Not Just Any Nectar Will Do

Credit Christopher C. Witt

Hummingbirds such as this Buff-tailed Sicklebill specialize in nectar feeding.

But other species of birds, less specialized to nectar, also visit flowers for a taste of the sweet stuff. 

The flowers they visit likely have a more open shape, with nectar more accessible to a non-specialist’s bill. The sugar they sample is probably different from what hummingbirds prefer.

As flowering plants and birds co-evolved, each to benefit from the other, it seems likely that plants evolved the type of sugar best suited to the pollinators on hand. It's a win-win for all concerned.