Journal of comparative physiology

, Volume 88, Issue 4, pp 425–431 | Cite as

Food quality and foraging efficiency

The efficiency of sugar assimilation by hummingbirds
  • F. Reed Hainsworth


  1. 1.

    Throughout the breeding season of hummingbirds in southeastern Arizona flowers provide hummingbirds with nectar equivalent to sucrose concentrations of 0.24–2.10 M, and nectar from most flowers is composed only of sucrose, glucose, and/or fructose.

  2. 2.

    When fed sucrose solutions of 0.5–2.0 M hummingbirds are at least 97–99% efficient in assimilating sugars.

  3. 3.

    The efficiency with which hummingbirds can extract nectar from flowers will depend on the size of the bird species, nectar concentration in flowers, and factors influencing rate of nectar intake.

  4. 4.

    Although species with low assimilation efficiencies (poor quality diets) may achieve sufficient foraging efficiencies by processing large quantities of food at low caloric cost, a high assimilation efficiency from a high quality food may be important for hummingbirds which employ an energetically costly foraging strategy.



Sugar Sucrose Assimilation Fructose Breeding Season 
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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 1974

Authors and Affiliations

  • F. Reed Hainsworth
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of BiologySyracuse UniversitySyracuse

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