Nectar Eaters

These medium to small sized birds take nectar by probing flowers or piercing leaves. Many also eat insects and some are known to take fruit on occasions. Perhaps not surprisingly the habitats in which they are found tend to be in the tropical regions of the world. I have split them into two groups based on the way in which they feed:-

Perching Feeders.

These small birds obtain nectar in a variety of ways. Some have long curved beaks which enable them to probe deep into flowers to extract nectar. Others have long tongues which serve a similar purpose. Yet others feed by actually piercing the leaves of the flowers. These birds include Honeyeaters, Sunbirds, Flower-peckers and Flower-piercers.

Birds such as the various species of Dacnis, Conebills and Flowerpiercers are listed in familiy Thraupidae with the Tanagers. These birds, which number about 46 species, have beaks which seem to have evolved for nectar or insect eating whereas the Tanagers have cone shaped, seed eating beaks. I accept that these species may be correctly listed in family Thraupidae but I prefer to place them with the nectar eaters.

Hovering Feeders.

These birds are characterised by their brilliant, iridescent plumage and their ability to hover and even fly backwards while gathering nectar in flight. They are the Hummingbirds and the Hermits. Some Hummingbirds also take small invertebrates.