Backyard wildlife in Missoula, Montana: Rufous hummingbird with a mosquito on its bill

May 14, 2012  •  Leave a Comment

On 9 May 2012 I saw my first hummingbird of the year here in Missoula; a rufous hummingbird (Selasphorus rufus). The hummingbird feeder and the sugar water had a lot to do with it of course. It came back the next day and I was able to take a picture. The picture isn't very good, but when I zoomed in and looked at the image I saw something that surprised me; there was a mosquito on the hummingbird's lower beak, hanging upside down. There are several explanations for this:

1. Hummingbirds not only eat nectar; they also eat mosquitos. Perhaps the mosquito wasn't properly aligned in the hummingbird's beak and it was partly hanging out instead of having been swallowed.

2. Mosquitos, both males and females, eat nectar. Perhaps the mosquito was having a free lunch sucking nectar from the beak of the hummingbird.

3. Female mosquitos also feed on blood, including from birds. Perhaps that was why the mosquito was attached to the hummingbird, although blood can probably not be accessed from its beak.

4. Perhaps the mosquito was simply hitchhiking?

Perhaps you have other potential explanations? Fill out a comment if you want!

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All content © 2012 Marcel Huijser

Rufous hummingbird (Selasphorus rufus) with mosquito on its bill, Missoula, Montana, USARufous hummingbird (Selasphorus rufus) with mosquito on its bill. Missoula, Montana, USA


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