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10 Amazing Facts About the Black-bellied Hummingbird

The Black-bellied Hummingbird, scientifically known as Eupherusa nigriventris, is a small species of hummingbird that is native to Central and South America. With its vibrant colors and impressive flying abilities, it is a favorite among birdwatchers and nature enthusiasts alike.

In this article, we will explore the identification, plumages, and molts of this beautiful bird.

Identification

Field Identification

The Black-bellied Hummingbird is a small bird, measuring around 9-11 cm in length. Its most distinguishing feature is its bright, iridescent green and blue plumage, with a contrasting black belly.

The male of the species also has a distinctive white patch on its throat, which varies in size depending on the individual. The female, on the other hand, is less colorful than the male, with a brownish-green back and wings, and a grayish underbelly.

Similar Species

One of the Black-bellied Hummingbird’s lookalikes is the Coppery-headed Emerald. They share a similar green and blue plumage, but the Coppery-headed Emerald has a copper-colored head instead of a white one.

The Violet-crowned Hummingbird and the White-bellied Mountain-gem are also often confused with the Black-bellied Hummingbird, due to their similar coloration. However, the Violet-crowned Hummingbird has a purple crown, while the White-bellied Mountain-gem has a white belly and a longer tail.

Plumages

The Black-bellied Hummingbird has two main plumages: the adult and the juvenile. The adult male has bright green and blue feathers, with a black belly and a white throat.

The size of the white patch on the throat can vary from individual to individual. The adult female, on the other hand, has a duller brownish-green back and wings, with a grayish underbelly.

The juvenile plumage of both sexes resembles that of the adult female, but with more muted colors.

Molts

The Black-bellied Hummingbird undergoes two molts per year: a pre-basic molt and a pre-alternate molt. The pre-basic molt occurs after the breeding season, and involves the replacement of feathers that have become worn or damaged.

The pre-alternate molt, on the other hand, occurs before the breeding season, and involves the development of brighter, more colorful plumage in the male.

Conclusion

In conclusion, the Black-bellied Hummingbird is a beautiful bird with a striking green and blue plumage, and a contrasting black belly. Birdwatchers and nature enthusiasts alike appreciate its impressive flying abilities and distinctive colors.

By understanding its identification, plumages, and molts, we can have a deeper appreciation for this small but mighty bird.

Systematics History

The Black-bellied Hummingbird has a rich systematics history, with multiple revisions over time. It was first described by the French ornithologist Jules Bourcier in 1843.

At that time, it was classified as a member of the genus Campylopterus. Later on, it was moved to the genus Eupherusa by the British ornithologist Philip Sclater in 1859, where it remains today.

Geographic Variation

The Black-bellied Hummingbird has a wide range across Central and South America, which has led to geographic variation in its appearance. Birds in the northern part of their range tend to have brighter, more vibrant colors than those in the southern part.

This is thought to be due to the higher levels of sunlight and humidity in the north.

Subspecies

There are eight recognized subspecies of the Black-bellied Hummingbird:

1. Eupherusa nigriventris nigriventris – Found in Costa Rica and western Panama.

2. Eupherusa nigriventris pyrrholaema – Found in eastern Panama and northern Colombia.

3. Eupherusa nigriventris vicina – Found in the mountains of eastern Colombia and Venezuela.

4. Eupherusa nigriventris soderstromi – Found in the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta in northern Colombia.

5. Eupherusa nigriventris aequatorialis – Found in the Andes of western Colombia and Ecuador.

6. Eupherusa nigriventris personata – Found in the Andes of central Ecuador.

7. Eupherusa nigriventris cearensis – Found in northeastern Brazil.

8. Eupherusa nigriventris duidae – Found in southern Venezuela.

Related Species

The Black-bellied Hummingbird belongs to the Trochilidae family, which contains over 300 species of hummingbirds. It is closely related to the Blue-throated Starfrontlet and the White-tailed Starfrontlet, both of which are native to Colombia.

These three species are the only members of the Eupherusa genus that are found outside of Mexico.

Historical Changes to Distribution

The Black-bellied Hummingbird’s range has remained relatively stable over time. However, there have been some historical changes that have impacted its distribution.

In the past, the bird was more widespread throughout Panama. However, changes to the landscape and habitat destruction have led to a decline in its numbers in some areas.

In Costa Rica, the Black-bellied Hummingbird was once considered rare, but it is now a common sight in many parts of the country. This is thought to be due to the increased availability of flowering plants in gardens and on coffee plantations.

In Venezuela, the bird is more commonly found in the Andes mountains, but it has been recorded as far north as the coastal range near Caracas. There have been reports of the bird moving into new areas, possibly due to habitat changes or climate shifts.

In Brazil, the Black-bellied Hummingbird is found in the Caatinga and Atlantic Forest regions. There have been reports of declines in its numbers in some areas, possibly due to habitat destruction and urbanization.

Overall, the Black-bellied Hummingbird’s range and numbers have remained relatively stable over time, but changes to the environment and habitat destruction have had some impact on its distribution in certain areas.

Conclusion

The systematics history, geographic variation, subspecies, and historical changes to distribution of the Black-bellied Hummingbird all contribute to our understanding of this fascinating species. By studying these factors, we can gain a deeper appreciation for this small but mighty bird and work to protect its habitat and ensure its survival for future generations.

Habitat

The Black-bellied Hummingbird can be found in a range of habitats across Central and South America, including rainforest, cloud forest, and montane forest. They are also known to inhabit areas with a high density of flowering plants, such as gardens, parks, and coffee plantations.

In Costa Rica, the Black-bellied Hummingbird is commonly found in the rainforest and cloud forest habitats of the mountains. They are also found in gardens and coffee plantations throughout the country.

In Colombia, the bird is found in a variety of habitats, including montane forest, elfin forest, and cloud forest. They are also known to inhabit gardens, parks, and urban areas.

In Venezuela, the bird is found in the Andes mountains, as well as in cloud forest and elfin forest habitats. It is also commonly seen in gardens and parks.

Movements and Migration

The Black-bellied Hummingbird is a non-migratory species, meaning that it does not make seasonal movements or migrations like some other bird species. This is likely due to the fact that it can find suitable habitat and food sources year-round within its range.

However, there have been some reports of seasonal movements within its range. For example, in Costa Rica, the bird has been observed moving to higher elevations during the dry season, when flowering plants at lower elevations are less abundant.

In addition, while the Black-bellied Hummingbird is mostly a sedentary species, there have been reports of some birds making small-scale movements within their range. For example, in Colombia, some birds have been observed moving to different elevations depending on the availability of food and other resources.

Overall, the Black-bellied Hummingbird is a non-migratory species that stays within its range year-round. However, there may be some seasonal or small-scale movements within its range depending on the availability of food and habitat.

Conclusion

The Black-bellied Hummingbird can be found in a variety of habitats across Central and South America, from rainforests to gardens. While it does not make seasonal migrations, there may be small-scale movements within its range depending on the availability of food and other resources.

By understanding the habitat and movements of this species, we can work to protect its habitat and ensure its survival for future generations.

Diet and Foraging

Feeding

The Black-bellied Hummingbird has a fast metabolism and high energy demands, which requires it to feed frequently throughout the day. It typically feeds on nectar from flowers, which provides the bird with the energy it needs to fly and maintain its high metabolism.

It also feeds on insects, which provide important nutrients such as proteins and fats. The bird has a long, slender beak that allows it to reach deep within flowers to extract nectar.

It hovers in front of the flower as it feeds, using its wings to maintain its position. The bird’s tongue is also adapted to collect nectar efficiently, with tiny hairs that help to trap the nectar.

Diet

While the Black-bellied Hummingbird primarily feeds on nectar, it also consumes insects as a supplemental food source. Insects make up around 10% of its diet and are an important source of proteins and fats.

The bird’s diet varies depending on its location and the availability of food sources. In Costa Rica, the Black-bellied Hummingbird feeds on a variety of flowering plants, including bromeliads, heliconias, and orchids.

In Colombia, it feeds on a wide range of flowers, including fuchsias, salvia, and verbena.

Metabolism and Temperature Regulation

The Black-bellied Hummingbird has a high metabolism and body temperature, which requires it to regulate its body temperature constantly. It has evolved a variety of adaptations to help maintain its body temperature, including a high heart rate and rapid breathing.

The bird also has a unique ability to go into torpor, a state of reduced metabolic activity, to conserve energy when food sources are scarce. During torpor, the bird’s heart rate and body temperature drop significantly, allowing it to save energy and survive periods of food shortages.

Sounds and Vocal Behavior

Vocalization

The Black-bellied Hummingbird is not known for its vocalization, and it does not have a distinctive call. However, males have been observed making a soft, high-pitched whistling sound during courtship displays.

This sound is created by the wings as they beat rapidly during the display. In addition to the whistling sound, the Black-bellied Hummingbird also produces a humming sound with its wings as it flies.

This sound is caused by the rapid movement of the wings, which beat approximately 80 times per second during normal flight. Overall, vocalization is not a significant feature of the Black-bellied Hummingbird’s behavior.

Instead, it relies on its bright, vibrant colors and impressive flying abilities to attract mates and defend its territory.

Conclusion

The Black-bellied Hummingbird’s diet and foraging behaviors are essential to its survival, as the bird requires a high energy intake to maintain its rapid metabolism and body temperature. While it primarily feeds on nectar, it also consumes insects as a supplemental food source.

The bird’s vocalization is not a significant aspect of its behavior, but it does produce a soft whistling sound during courtship displays and a humming sound with its wings during flight. By understanding these aspects of the bird’s behavior, we can appreciate the unique adaptations that have allowed it to flourish in its native habitats.

Behavior

Locomotion

The Black-bellied Hummingbird has a unique and impressive flying ability, which allows it to hover in place and fly backwards. This is possible due to its rapid wing movement and the ability to control its flight muscles with incredible precision.

The bird also has a high level of control over its flight speed and direction, which allows it to navigate through dense vegetation and quickly escape predators.

Self-Maintenance

The Black-bellied Hummingbird spends a significant amount of time maintaining its feathers and grooming itself. It uses its beak to preen its feathers and remove any debris or parasites.

The bird also bathes frequently to keep its feathers clean and maintain their waterproofing.

Agonistic Behavior

The Black-bellied Hummingbird is territorial and will aggressively defend its feeding and breeding territory from other birds. Males are especially aggressive during the breeding season, and will engage in intense aerial battles with rival males.

The birds may chase each other through the air, dive-bomb one another, and even clash their bills together in mid-air combat.

Sexual Behavior

During the breeding season, male Black-bellied Hummingbirds perform impressive aerial displays to attract females. These displays involve a variety of acrobatic maneuvers, such as flying in a dive or hovering in front of the female while moving their tails in a fan-like motion.

If the female is interested, she will join in the display, and the two birds will mate.

Breeding

The breeding season for the Black-bellied Hummingbird varies depending on its location. In Costa Rica, breeding occurs from February to August, while in Colombia it occurs from March to August.

During the breeding season, males establish a territory that includes a suitable nesting site and feeding sources. The male will aggressively defend this territory from rival males and potential predators.

Once a female selects a mate, the two birds will construct a small, cup-shaped nest using materials such as moss, lichen, and spider webs. The female typically lays two eggs, which she incubates for around 16-18 days.

After hatching, the chicks are altricial, meaning they are born relatively undeveloped and require significant parental care. Both parents will feed and care for the chicks until they fledge, which typically occurs around 20-23 days after hatching.

Demography and Populations

The Black-bellied Hummingbird is considered a species of least concern by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN), due to its relatively stable populations and widespread distribution. However, habitat destruction and fragmentation are potential threats to the species, particularly in areas where forests are being cleared for agriculture and development.

The populations of the Black-bellied Hummingbird have not been extensively studied, but the species is generally considered to be abundant throughout its range. The bird is well-adapted to human-modified habitats and can be found in gardens, coffee plantations, and other areas with high densities of flowering plants.

Overall, the Black-bellied Hummingbird is a resilient species that has adapted to a variety of habitats and behaviors to survive in its native range. By understanding its behavior, breeding, and population trends, we can work to protect its habitat and ensure its survival for future generations.

In summary, the Black-bellied Hummingbird is a fascinating species of hummingbird that has a unique set of behaviors and adaptations. From its impressive flying abilities to its territorial and sexual behaviors during the breeding season, the bird is a wonder of the natural world.

Its ability to survive in a variety of habitats and adapt to changes in its environment is a testament to its resilience. However, the pressures of habitat destruction and fragmentation threaten the species, and it is important for us to understand and protect this delicate balance between the bird and its environment.

By working to conserve its habitat and raise awareness of its importance, we can ensure the survival of this beautiful species for generations to come.

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