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Hummingbird Anatomy

The hummingbird's anatomy, i.e., its proportion, size and maneuverability, is suited for its relationship with flowers. Noteworthy is its bill, which is tapered and longer in proportion to its body than other bird's anatomies. Its legs are short and small, which reduces their contribution to the lightweight of the hummer. This lightness enables the bird to alight on fragile and small structures.

Hummingbirds are small, most species measuring between 7.5 and 13cm. This size is appropriate for the bird to approach flowers, which, otherwise, they would disturb and complicate the approach. Note, the coarse, general length of a bird is measured, usually from dead specimens, by positioning the bird on its back, lightly leveling out the head and neck, and, taking the distance between the tip of its beak and the tip of its tail. Additionally, OgygianHummers classifies small hummers as under 9cm (3.5ins), medium hummers as 9–12cm, and large hummingbirds above 12cm (4.7ins). Natural size variations and gender size differences make the classifications approximate.

The Hummingbird's maneuverability is due to a combination of its size, weight and unique wings. Their wings are narrow and curved, which features facilitate high wing beats, they rotate them, between 70 and 200 times per second. Like most perching birds, hummingbirds have ten primary feathers, which are the principal sources of their thrust in flight. Hummingbirds can fly at an average speed of 25–30 miles per hour and even reach 60 miles per hour in a dive. Remarkably, these birds can fly upside down, backwards and hover, noticed especially when feeding, besides being able to fly forward, of which a substantial part is done in an erect stance—other birds fly mostly flat, their heads forward of their rump.

Hummingbird Topographical Anatomy
Part Description
Arm (forelimb) By orthodoxy the whole wing, but, by usage the part of the wing (the superior limb) from the shoulder to the wrist made up of the upper arm (composing the humerus) and forearm (composing the ulna and radius) to which the secondary feathers are attached.
Back/Above The area from the back of the neck to the rump above and between the top of the wings.
Beak/Bill The projecting part at the front of the hummingbird's head; usually longer in proportion than in other birds to their body length, enabling them to reach into the depths of flowers to get at nectar. The beak is made up of an upper and lower portion, i.e., the maxilla (upper mandible) and mandible (lower mandible) respectively, consisting of keratin, in consistency and texture like figure nails. The hummingbird's bill is variously described as short, long, straight, or decurved—bent down or curved downward.
Belly/Abdomen/Underbelly The belly is the underside of the hummingbird below the wings and between the chest and the thighs.
Breast/Chest On the hummingbird the breast is the part bounded by the ribs, just below the chin and wings.
Camber The upward curvature (convex upward) of the inner wing involving the secondary and tertiary feathers. The camber aerodynamically provides lift when the leading edge cuts through the air in the direction of flight. In hummingbirds the camber is faint or not distinguishable—given their pattern of wing beats a strong camber would be detrimental to producing lift.
Chin Immediately below the beak but above the neck.
Coverts These are smaller feathers of the under and upper tail, and under and upper wing covering the base of the larger feathers, like the rectrices and primary, secondary feathers.
Crown/Top The crown is above the ears and forehead on the utmost top of the head.
Culmen An imaginary line running down the crest of the upper mandible from the base to the distal end. Its description, e.g., curved, decurved, and straight, helps in bird identification.
Dimorphic Of different visual appearance, i.e., the males and females are of different form and coloration.
Ears There are two ears, one on each side of the head.
Elbow On the wing the junction formed by the upper arm and the forearm.
Eyelids Lids of skin and muscle that move to cover the eye and block light, which overlay a clear nictitating membrane (beneath the eyelids) that protect the eyes during flight.
Feathers Structures that are outgrowths on the skin consisting of a hollow central shaft with a vane of fine barbs on each side; sometimes with bright iridescent colours that show in sunlight. The feathers are essential structural and contour elements of the bird's wing and covering and contour feature of the body; some types of feathers include contours, e.g., remiges, coverts, and rectrices, and down.
Feet The hummingbird foot consists of three toes in the front and one, the hallux, in the back (the hallux is its big toe and is the first digit on the foot). The foot is used for perching and scratching but not for walking.
Flanks The flanks are the sides of the hummingbirds from the ribs to the thighs underneath and behind the wing.
Forearm The part of the wing between the upper arm and the wrist, composing the ulna and radius, where the secondary feathers are attached.
Forehead The forehead is the part of the bird's face between and a little above the eyes.
Gorget A brightly coloured area, in some hummingbirds, usually in males, and for attracting females, around the throat.
Hand (Manus) The part of the wing to which the primary feathers are attached, from the carpus (wrist) and composing the metacarpus and phalanges.
Legs Hummingbird legs, i.e., the thigh, lower leg and foot, are extremely short, small and weak. They contribute little to the bird's weight.
Lore The lore is the area, on the head, between the nostrils and the eyes.
Malar The malar is the cheek of the hummingbird.
Metapatagium A stretch of skin on the wing, less pronounced than the propatagium and covered with feathers, extending from the elbow to the proximal flank that assist in glided flight.
Monomorphic Of the same visual appearance, i.e., the males and females are alike in color and form.
Nape The nape is at the back of the hummingbird's neck.
Neck A protrusion of the torso that connects the head; it involves the throat and nape, and sometimes on hummingbirds the site of a gorget.
Nostrils Openings that are located at the base of the beak beneath the eyes; a passage for the respiratory system.
Pileum The composite area from the base of the upper bill, to the supercilium, to the cap, and then to the back of the head.
Plumage The assemblage, as wells as the color, pattern, and arrangement, of feathers (plumes) that make up the exterior of birds.
Primary Feathers They are the longest and narrowest of feathers known as remiges that are essential to flight; they are connected to the manus, the bird's hand, i.e., the most distant part, from the flank, of the wings musculoskeletal structure; hummingbirds have ten primary feathers on each wing.
Propatagium A stretch of skin, covered with feathers, extending from the shoulder to the wrist that gives girth to the wing and aid in glided flight.
Rump The hummingbird's rump is the rear end of the bird where the tail feathers protrude.
Secondary Feathers Remige feathers, shorter than the primaries, longer than tertiaries and coverts, provide lift, in flight, due to their contribution to an air-foil wing shape—note that hummingbird wings are un-cambered. These feathers are located between the primary and the tertiary feathers. Hummingbirds possess six secondary feathers. They are connected to the bird's forearm, the ulna.
Shoulder The junction formed by the upper arm and the torso at the scapula (shoulder blade).
Sternum The sternum is also known as the breastbone or keel. The ribs and pectoral muscles, essential to flight, are attached to the sternum.
Tertiary Feathers Attached to the upperarm, wing feathers closest to the flanks that, together with primary and secondary feathers, participate in an airfoil and helping to form the camber.
Tail Feathers/ rectrices Hummingbirds have ten tail feathers protruding from the rump that they use to steer and brake their flight.
Throat The front of the neck below the chin and above the chest encompassing the channels to the lungs and stomach.
Tongue The hummingbirds' tongue is very long, enabling it to reach the nectar recesses of flowers, and grooved as the letter "W".
Upper Arm The wing segment articulated with the shoulder, composing the humerus, and to which tertiary feathers are attached.
Underparts Together, the throat, chin, chest, abdomen, flanks, and under-tail coverts make up the underparts. However, the term commonly refers to the plumage of the chest, abdomen and flanks, alike in colour and patterns and dissimilar from the upperparts (crown, nape, back, wings, and rump).
Upperparts The upperparts include the crown, nape, back, wings, and the rump. The preferred circumstance for usage is when all the upperparts are of identical colour and patterns and permit for an overall impression.
Wings Essentially, a bird's wing is composed of the arm, hand, and primary, secondary, and tertiary feathers collectively participating in an airfoil. Important substructures are the propatagium, metapatagium, and musculoskeletal system. Hummingbirds have unique wings that are narrow, curved, and without obvious camber allowing maneuverability, powered, and rapid flight.
Wrist Roughly, it is the junction of the carpal bone (carpometacarpus) of the hand with the forearm (ulna and radius).
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