Does a Hummingbird Have a Tongue?

One of the most interesting facts about hummingbirds is that they don’t have a tongue. Instead, they have what’s called a “glossa,” which is a thin strip of flesh that runs along the inside of their beak.

This glossa is covered in thousands of tiny hair-like structures called “papillae,” which help the hummingbird collect nectar from flowers. Hummingbirds are able to extend and retract their glossa, depending on whether they need to use it or not.

Most people know that hummingbirds are avid nectar drinkers, but did you know that they also have tongues?

In fact, their tongues are specially adapted to help them lap up nectar from flowers. The tongue is long and thin and is covered in tiny hairs called lamellae.

These lamellae work like a brush, helping the hummingbird to collect more nectar with each lick. Interestingly, the tongue is not just used for drinking nectar.

Hummingbirds also use it to clean their feathers and keep them free of dirt and parasites.

So next time you see a hummingbird at your feeder, take a closer look – you might just spot its tongue!

Hummingbird Have a Tongue

Do All Hummingbirds Have Tongues?

Yes, all hummingbirds have tongues. The tongue of a hummingbird is long, thin, and forked, and it is used to lap up nectar from flowers.

The tongue can extend up to twice the length of the beak, and it is covered in tiny hair-like structures called papillae that help to increase surface area and make it more efficient at lapping up nectar.

Hummingbirds are able to drink nectar at an astonishing rate of around 13 times per second!

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Is a Hummingbird Tongue Like a Straw?

A hummingbird’s tongue is not like a straw. It is long, thin, and fork-shaped, with extensions on the end that help it lap up nectar from flowers.

The tongue can extend out of the beak about twice as far as the bird’s body, and it flickers rapidly to collect nectar.

Do Hummingbirds Have Tongues Or Proboscis?

Most people believe that hummingbirds have tongues because they often see them sticking out while the bird is drinking nectar from a flower. However, hummingbirds actually don’t have tongues at all!

Instead, they have a long, thin proboscis (a tubular mouthpiece) that they use to extract nectar from flowers.

The proboscis is coiled up when not in use, which is why it’s not always visible. Hummingbirds are able to drink nectar very quickly thanks to their specially adapted proboscises.

They can uncoil their proboscises and insert them deep into a flower in just a fraction of a second.

When they start drinking, they can take in up to 15 times their body weight in nectar every day!

Do Hummingbirds Have a Forked Tongue?

Yes, hummingbirds have a forked tongue. The two parts of the tongue work together to help the hummingbird lap up nectar from flowers.

The forked shape also allows the tongue to reach deep into the flower to get at the sugary liquid.

Hummingbird Tongues in Stunning Slow Motion

How Long is a Hummingbird Tongue?

Most people are surprised to learn that hummingbirds have very long tongues! The length of a hummingbird’s tongue can be up to one and a half times the length of its beak. This is an adaptation that allows them to reach nectar deep inside flowers.

The tongue is not only long but also very thin and fringed with tiny hairs. When the hummingbird sticks out its tongue to sip nectar, the hair-like structures work like a brush to trap the liquid.

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Then, when the tongue is retracted into the beak, the nectar is drawn up by capillary action.

Interestingly, scientists have found that different species of hummingbirds have tongues of different lengths. This seems to be related to the size of the flowers they visit most often.

Hummingbirds with longer tongues can reach more deeply into larger flowers, giving them an advantage in getting food.


A recent study has shown that hummingbirds do in fact have tongues and that these tongues are specially adapted to help the birds feed on nectar. The study found that the tongue of a hummingbird is long, thin, and covered in tiny hairs called papillae.

These papillae work like a brush to collect nectar from flowers and then transport it back to the bird’s mouth. The study also found that the tongue of a hummingbird is able to move very quickly, allowing the bird to collect as much nectar as possible from each flower it visits.


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