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Catalina Island Conservancy

Photos, text and illustrations by Carlos de la Rosa

January 2008

Powerful Pollinators
Have you ever wondered how much nectar it takes until a hummingbird is "full"? This is the kind of question that generates a whole slew of related questions and avenues of inquiry. Like these for example;

Q: How often do hummingbirds drink?
A: It depends on the concentration of the nectar: The more concentrated with sugar, the less they drink.

Q: How much energy do they consume?
A: More than 6,000 calories per day just to survive.

Q: How many flowers does a hummingbird need to visit to meet its incredible energy requirements?
A: Again, depending on the amount of nectar and the sugar content, between 1,000 and 2,500 flowers each day.

Q: Why do plants produce nectar that attracts hummingbirds in the first place?
A: This is a question that, to be entirely correct, would require quite a long answer. Co-evolution is the short answer.

Says Carlos de la Rosa, the Conservancy's Chief of Conservation and Education, "I spent a weekend investigating some of these questions and coming up with the few answers above and, invariably, with many more questions. This month's gallery explores some of the subtle, interesting, fascinating, intriguing and even bizarre connections between hummingbirds, insects and other nectar drinkers and their host plants. Discover with us some of the obscure but captivating relationships between plants and their animal pollinators."

Hover Now!