Naked Science Forum

Life Sciences => Plant Sciences, Zoology & Evolution => Topic started by: Lmnre on 28/08/2013 00:45:24

Title: Hummingbirds: Nutritional intake → Nectar: Ideal food?
Post by: Lmnre on 28/08/2013 00:45:24
The recent thread on the hummingbird-like insect, the hummingbird hawkmoth, prompted me to search YouTube, where I found Rescued Baby Hummingbird (

The video showed the hummingbird drinking what was probably sugar water, which caused me to wonder. Sugar is a carbohydrate, containing only carbon, hydrogen and oxygen. But a hummingbird needs all sorts of chemicals. So, a hummingbird could not subsist only on sugar water because it would suffer malnutrition and die.

A hummingbird's (or hummingbird hawkmoth's) food in nature is nectar, which, if it's the bird's only food source, must contain all sorts of chemicals needed for survival, growth, etc. Wikipedia says that nectars contain all sorts of chemicals, so nectar is the ideal food for hummingbirds, at least.

So, I'm wondering if nectar is the ideal food for all species (including humans), or just the animals that naturally feed on it? Nectar seems to have a high sugar content to restore the energy required to collect it. Do nectar-feeding animals depend on nectar from particular plants, or will any plant do? What if these animals are restricted to one species of plant; will the animal survive?

It seems that the animals and their nectars co-evolved. Has anyone read/studied anything about this?