Sword-billed Hummingbird -– Photo by Kevin Schafer – @schaferpho @natgeo – A

Sword-billed Hummingbird -– Photo by Kevin Schafer – @schaferpho @natgeo – A few years ago, I staked out a patch of highland forest in the Ecuadorian Andes, hoping to see, and photograph, one of the most extraordinary examples of evolution i know – the Sword-billed Hummingbird. These birds are not wildly colorful, like many of their tribe, but possess extravagantly long bills – as you can see – the only bird whose beak is longer than its body. (Their beaks weigh so much that when they perch the have to hold them vertically.) Why so absurdly outsized? Because they feed primarily on long tubular flowers, such as Datura and Passiflora. I spent most of a day sitting beside some likely flowers, and saw just one bird, and was able to get just this one image of a hovering female. But as is so often the case, just seeing the bird in the wild was so worth the wait. #ecuadorbirds #adaptation #swordbilled #andeanwildlife #evolution

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