Sword-billed hummingbird

This introverted species has an unusually large beak, making it unique and different from the rest of hummingbirds

Andy Morffew

Sword-billed hummingbird


This introverted species has an unusually large beak, making it unique and different from the rest of hummingbirds


It stands out as one of the most extraordinary members of the hummingbird family, boasting a beak that defies conventional avian proportions. With a bill longer than its own body, this remarkable adaptation allows it to access nectar from flowers with long corollas, offering it a unique niche in the competitive world of nectar-feeding birds. As a result, the Sword-billed hummingbird faces less competition for limited nectar resources, giving it a distinct advantage in its mountainous habitats of South America.

Despite its specialized feeding strategy, the Sword-billed hummingbird leads a largely solitary existence, interacting with others primarily during the breeding season. During this time, females take on the primary responsibilities of nesting and caring for their young chicks, while males focus on defending territories and attracting mates through elaborate courtship displays.

Nest construction is a meticulous process for female Sword-billed hummingbirds, who weave together a delicate structure using a variety of materials, including animal hair, soft plant fibers, and even spider webs. This unique blend of materials results in a nest that is both flexible and sturdy, providing ample space for the growing chicks while offering protection from the elements.

The distinctive anatomy of the Sword-billed hummingbird poses unique challenges in daily activities such as feeding, preening, and grooming. With their elongated bills, these birds must hold their heads upright to alleviate strain on their necks, a posture that requires constant vigilance and adaptation.

Preening, the essential task of grooming feathers to maintain flight performance and insulation, is particularly challenging for Sword-billed hummingbirds due to their extended bills. However, these remarkable birds have evolved specialized techniques to overcome these obstacles, showcasing their remarkable adaptability and resilience in the face of evolutionary challenges.


Population est.

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Terrestrial / Aquatic

Altricial / Precocial

Polygamous / Monogamous

Dimorphic (size) / Monomorphic

Active: Diurnal / Nocturnal

Social behavior: Solitary / Pack / Herd

Diet: Carnivore / Herbivore / Omnivore / Piscivorous / Insectivore

Migratory: Yes / No

Domesticated: Yes / No

Dangerous: Yes / No