Nutritional Strategy: Nectarivory in Birds 10 Facts You Should Know

Key Points

  • Carbohydrate-rich nectar is a staple of the nectarivore diet.
  • Nectar contains abundant amounts of energy.
  • High vitamin A levels have been reported in many formulated nectars.
  • Several foods are nutritionally similar to nectar.
  • Insects serve as an important source of protein.
  • Pollen is an alternative nutrient source for some nectarivores.
  • Most nectarivores have relatively long, narrow bills and tongues.
  • Nectarivores have relatively short, simple gastrointestinal tracts designed to digest nectar quickly and efficiently.
  • Nectarivores must conserve salts while consuming large volumes of a dilute, electrolyte-deficient diet.
  • Some nectarivores possess exceptionally high metabolic rates.

Although nectar is considered a nutritional reward for pollination, it is probably the most nutrient-dilute food consumed by birds. Nectar meets less than 15% of essential amino acid requirements and is particularly low in methionine. In fact nutrients other than sugars, such as protein, vitamins, trace minerals, and lipids are present in nectar at levels considered inadequate for growth, reproduction, or even maintenance activity . . .

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