SitNews - Stories in the News - Ketchikan, Alaska

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Sweets & Treats
Photo By Jim Lewis


April 24, 2006

Ketchikan, Alaska - As this beautiful rufous hummingbird is enjoying the sweets provided by a Ketchikan feeder, it is providing endless viewing treats for the photographer. One treat was seeing and photographing the hummingbird's long tongue as it fed on the sugar water.

jpg Rufous Hummingbird

Rufous hummingbird enjoying the sweets provided by a Ketchikan feeder...
Photograph by Jim Lewis ©

Although hummingbirds sip from feeders and the nectar from flowers, much of their food and that of their young consists of young spiders, small beetles and insects that they find in flowers or capture in mid-air. They apparently prefer tubular flowers such as petunia, columbine, trumpet vine, honeysuckle, lobelia, salvia, tiger lily, canna and jewelweed. Many of these flowers happen to be red, pink or orange but the experts say that color is not a factor. Thistles, roses and fruit tree blossoms are also visited.

The hummingbird's tongue, like that of the woodpeckers, is peculiarly adapted for this manner of feeding. It is a sort of double-barreled tube, split and fringed at the tip, which can be extended far beyond the end of the bill and used for sucking nectar from flowers or serving as a probe or sticky brush to collect small insects.

Traveling further north in the spring than any other hummingbird, the rufous hummingbird reaches the sixty-first degree of latitude on the coast of Alaska. Inhabiting woodlands, it ranges down from Alaska through western Canada and Montana, continuing through Washington and Oregon into northwestern California.

Hummingbirds, found only in the Western Hemisphere, are undoubtedly the most remarkable birds in the world.



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Ketchikan, Alaska