Can Hummingbirds Open Their Beaks? (Answered)

by Kloee Ngozi
Updated on

Hummingbirds do open their beaks.

There are over 300 species of these birds in the world. In order to feed and sustain their incredibly fast metabolism, hummingbirds develop ways to adapt and locate their own food supply.

Unlike other insects, their beaks and tongues are specifically adapted to collect nectar and pollinate blooms that others cannot pollinate.

Because of their fast movement, it might seem that they do not open their mouth, but they actually do.

The beak of a hummingbird isn’t hollow. They don’t use a straw to sip the nectar. Like any other bird’s bill, the beak has an upper and lower half.

Hummingbirds have a flexible lower beak that can broaden and bend downward slightly when they open their jaws. 

Can Hummingbirds Open Their Beaks

Can Hummingbirds Open Their Beaks

Hummingbirds have a long beak which is useful for sucking out nectar from flowers.

Hummingbirds are nectivorous birds, i.e., they depend on nectar for their food source. 

Not all bird species can open their beaks, but the hummingbird has some significant control over its bill and can open just the tip of the beak.

In addition, its lower mandible is quite supple and will open wide enough so the bird can catch and swallow insects. 

The hummingbird bill helps to protect its tongue, which is what is used to scoop up nectar.

Although the tongue is split in the bird’s mouth, two back forks extend from beneath the bird’s jaw, behind and over its head before insertion in its skull.

Their tongue has a forked tip and several short hairs covering it. To give you an idea of the shape of their tongue, look at the area where it isn’t forked.

The hummingbird sticks its tongue into the flower, and the nectar is sucked into the two “troughs.”

Related: Here is an article I wrote on can hummingbird fly in the rain

What Does It Mean When A Hummingbird Has Its Mouth Open?

Unlike other animals, birds are unable to shed heat in the same way people do. Therefore, they are unable to cool themselves via sweating.

To keep its body temperature in check, the hummingbird may pant, opening and closing its beak.

Only the appearance differs, but birds also pant in the same manner as dogs.

Opening the bird’s mouth and letting its neck muscles “flutter” will help it lose heat (this is an avian version of panting).

How Does A Hummingbird’s Beak Work?

Hummingbird’s beak has an intricate design.

Because of this, hummingbirds can reach the nectar towards the rear of the flowers they feed on with their beaks fully extended.

A hummingbird’s tongue is hair-covered in addition to its longer appearance. This is also effective in attracting as much nectar as possible each time they eat.

Hummingbirds utilize their long, needle-like beaks to pierce deep into the flowers they feed on.

To collect nectar from flowers, the hummingbird uses its tongue, which is covered in a protective sheath in its beak.

Their tongue has a forked tip and several short hairs covering it.

Since their beaks are involved when gathering nectar from flowers, the hummingbird’s tongues are used to do the same. 

This isn’t a sucking motion like you’d anticipate; instead, it’s a way of drawing the honey in. 

This process is referred to as capillary action.

To drink the nectar, the hummingbird retracts its tongue and draws it into its mouth. Then, to gather more nectar, it spreads its tongue once again.

A hummingbird’s tongue can extend and retract anywhere from three to thirteen times per second, depending on the beak and tongue’s length, giving the appearance that it is licking or lapping up nectar.

Why Do Hummingbirds Sit With Beaks Open?

Sometimes they sit with their beak open because of the weather.

This is because birds’ bodies and feathers are designed to withstand cold weather while during the hot period, it is difficult to release heat since they do not sweat.

So the best way any bird can release heat from its body is through the mouth. 

Sometimes, it could be because of this; hummingbirds can reach the nectar at the rear of blooms with their beaks fully extended.

Since their beaks are used to gather nectar from flowers, the hummingbird’s tongues are used to do the same.

Can A Hummingbird Beak Stab You?

Hummingbirds, with their bright plumage and long, delicate beaks, may be considered cute.

However, to deter other males from mating with their female counterparts, male hummingbirds savagely attack them in the throat. 

However, Hummingbirds, despite their diminutive size, can be violent. However, if they get too close to you, they’re just nosy.

This conduct isn’t random. If they attack, there’s a purpose.

  • Hummingbirds are fiercely protective of their territory, which explains why you may see them fighting in your yard. Other birds will be warned off by territorial hummers that don’t want to share their bird feeder. They may also warn you if they believe you pose a threat to their sugar water supply.
  • The females are highly protective of their nest and young. You might not even be aware that you’re very close to a nest until the mother decides to warn you to go away. Avoid approaching a nest if you see one because doing so will make the birds feel threatened.

Most of the time, if a hummingbird attacks a person, it is only to warn the person to go away, but it doesn’t cause an injury.

Also check out this article I wrote on are hummingbirds afraid of bees

Is A Hummingbird Beak Hard or Soft?

Some people believe that a hummingbird’s beak is readily breakable due to its makeup making them appear so delicate.

Although the beak of this bird appears soft, it is longer than those of most other birds.

It’s not, however, flimsy. It comes in handy for poking things and shielding their meal from predators.

What Happens If A Hummingbird Breaks Its Beak?

Either the lower or upper bill is twisted unnaturally, or the bill is entirely shattered in two.

In addition, this type of bird finds it difficult to use this beak to feed from natural sources and artificial feeders, which means that hummingbirds with broken beaks are more likely to go hungry.

What Will Happen If A Hummingbird Has A Hooked Beak?

Hummingbirds have a bendable lower beak because of their flexible lower beak.

This is thought to be done up to a temperature of about 25 degrees!

As a result, the hummingbird can get to those hard-to-reach food sources without damaging its beak.

However, you may stumble across an unusual hummingbird with what looks like a hooked beak.

Like those of hooks, unusual beak shapes indicate damage to the hummingbird’s beak at some point in its life.

Unfortunately, there isn’t much anyone can do to help in this situation. Most hummingbirds will become accustomed to eating from feeding stations and flowers with a hooked beak.


Hummingbirds can open their beaks. Most times, it is when they are feeding.

These birds’ feed all through the day, so their beak is always open, but it is hard to see due to their fast movement.

Another reason their beak can be open is when they are hot and need a way to release heat from their body.

Hummingbirds have one of the most fascinating beaks among the avian species, but this works for them as much as hands work for humans.

Photo of author

About the author

Kloee Ngozi

Kloee is a backyard farmer and avid gardener who enjoys tending to her garden and plants. She is so engrossed with her plants that she has pet names for all of them. She likes to relax with a bottle of wine and read a book.


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