Can foraging hummingbirds use smell? A test with the Amazilia hummingbird Amazila amazilia


Authors: Pablo NÚÑEZ, Marcos MÉNDEZ and Isabel LÓPEZ-RULL


Published: Volume 68.2, July 2021. Pages 433-444.

Language: English

Keywords: behaviour, nectarivores and olfaction


Smell plays an important role in the sensory ecology of birds. Although birds are considered to rely mainly on sight and hearing, use of smell in the reproduction, communication and foraging behaviours of many birds has been documented. However, there is very little information about the role of smell in foraging by nectarivorous birds. We tested the ability of the Amazilia hummingbird Amazilia amazilia s. l. to use olfactory signals during foraging. Individuals were exposed to two feeders, one of which emitted a floral essence. Contrary to our expectations, no significant differences were found in the choice of feeders based on their odour. Our results suggest that neither male nor female Amazilia hummingbirds use smell in the search for food but employ other senses, mainly sight.

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