Bird O'clock

10 Fascinating Facts About the Velvet-Purple Coronet Hummingbird

The Velvet-purple Coronet, also known as the Boissonneaua jardini, is a species from the hummingbird family found in the Andes of Colombia, Ecuador, and Peru. This small, glimmering bird is a marvel to behold, with its striking plumage and distinctive crown.

In this article, we will explore the identification, plumages, molts, and similar species of the Velvet-purple Coronet.

Identification

The Velvet-purple Coronet is a tiny bird, measuring around 10 cm long and weighing approximately 5 grams. It has a characteristic purple crown that is surrounded by iridescent, green feathers.

There is a white stripe above each eye, and the throat is bright emerald green. The upperparts of the bird are a deep blue-black, and the underparts are a rich green.

The bird’s wings and tail are dark, with white spots on the outer edges of the tail. Field

Identification

The Velvet-purple Coronet can be identified by its distinctive purple crown, green throat, and blue-black upperparts.

Its small size and quick flight pattern make it easy to recognize in the field. When perched, this bird tilts its head sideways, creating a distinctive posture that is useful for identification.

Similar Species

The Velvet-purple Coronet is often confused with other hummingbird species in the region. One of the most common misunderstandings is the Purple-bibbed Whitetip, which shares a similar purple crown, green throat, and blue-black upperparts.

However, the Velvet-purple Coronet has a white stripe above each eye, while the Purple-bibbed Whitetip has a distinct white bib on its throat. Another similar species to watch out for is the Golden-tailed Sapphire, which has a similar size and shape but lacks the Velvet-purple Coronet’s distinctive purple crown.

Plumages

The Velvet-purple Coronet has two distinct plumages, the adult male and female. The male has a striking purple crown, green throat, and blue-black upperparts.

The female, on the other hand, has a green crown with speckles of purple, and its upperparts are a duller green. The female also lacks the distinctive white stripe above each eye that the male has.

Molts

The Velvet-purple Coronet undergoes a complete molt once a year, typically after the breeding season. During this time, the bird sheds all of its feathers and grows a fresh set.

The post-juvenile molt occurs in the first year of the bird’s life, and it replaces the juvenile plumage with the adult plumage.

Conclusion

The Velvet-purple Coronet is a small, magnificent bird that is easily identified by its striking purple crown, green throat, and blue-black upperparts. It can be hard to spot in the wild, but with its characteristic posturing and quick flight pattern, it is highly recognizable.

Knowing the differences between the male and female plumage and understanding the bird’s molting process can also help bird watchers and enthusiasts identify and appreciate these birds even more.

Systematics History

The Velvet-purple Coronet, Boissonneaua jardini, belongs to the family Trochilidae, which is found in the Andes of South America. The systematics of this species have gone through several changes over the years.

When first described in 1852, it was placed under the genus Orinthomyia. However, it was later placed under the genus Boissonneaua due to its shared characteristics with other species in that genus.

Recent genetic studies suggest that the Velvet-purple Coronet should belong to a separate genus, which is yet to be formally described.

Geographic Variation

There is very little geographic variation between different populations of Velvet-purple Coronets. However, there are slight differences in size and color, which can be used to distinguish different subspecies.

Subspecies

There are three recognized subspecies of the Velvet-purple Coronet:

– B.j. jardini: This subspecies is found in the Andes of Colombia, from Santander to Huila and Cauca. – B.j. sandemanii: This subspecies is found in the Andes of southern Colombia and Ecuador.

– B.j. ocularis: This subspecies is found in the Andes of northern Peru. The differences between these subspecies are subtle, but the size and color of the birds can help distinguish them.

The subspecies B.j. sandemanii, for example, is slightly larger and has a more vivid purple crown than the other subspecies.

Related Species

The Velvet-purple Coronet is closely related to several other species found in the Andes of South America. These related species include the Fawn-breasted Brilliant, White-tailed Hillstar, and the Violet-fronted Brilliant.

While these species share many similarities with the Velvet-purple Coronet, they can be distinguished by subtle differences in their plumage, size, and behavior.

Historical Changes to Distribution

Historical changes to distribution patterns of the Velvet-purple Coronet can be attributed to changes in climate and habitat loss. Over the past century, deforestation and agriculture have led to the loss of much of the bird’s natural habitat, causing significant changes in its distribution patterns.

The Velvet-purple Coronet was once common throughout its range, but it is now found in scattered populations in isolated regions. Climate change is also a factor that could affect the Velvet-purple Coronet’s distribution.

The bird has a limited range, restricted to high-elevation forests, and changes in temperature and precipitation patterns could significantly impact the bird’s distribution. As climate patterns shift, the bird’s range may shift as well, affecting its population numbers and survival.

Conservation efforts are currently underway to protect the Velvet-purple Coronet and its habitat. Protected areas such as the Pramo de Las Hermosas National Park and the Podocarpus National Park provide vital habitat for the bird.

There are also efforts to promote sustainable agriculture and reforestation in the Andes to help restore and expand the bird’s habitat.

Conclusion

The systematics history, geographic variation, subspecies, and related species of the Velvet-purple Coronet provide valuable insights into the bird’s evolutionary history and current conservation status. Historical changes to the bird’s distribution patterns highlight the importance of protecting its habitat and promoting sustainable agricultural practices.

Understanding the Velvet-purple Coronet’s systematics and distribution patterns helps to inform conservation efforts and secure the future of this stunning Andes hummingbird.

Habitat

The Velvet-purple Coronet is a species of hummingbird found in the Andes of South America. They are typically found at high elevations of around 2,000 to 3,600 meters above sea level.

Some individual birds have been located at elevations as high as 4,500 meters. The birds are found in moist montane forests, wooded areas, and cloud forests.

They prefer areas with year-round flower blooms and easy access to food sources. The bird is known to be a habitat specialist, meaning it is highly adapted to its specific habitat and is not able to easily adjust to new or varying environments.

As such, the loss and fragmentation of its natural habitat have led to population declines in some areas.

Movements and Migration

The Velvet-purple Coronet is non-migratory, meaning it does not undertake long-distance seasonal movements or migrations. However, it does engage in short-distance movements in response to changes in food availability or weather conditions.

During the breeding season, males are known to defend specific territories that contain appropriate nesting sites and an abundance of food sources. Females select their mates based on the quality of their territories and their potential ability to provide for their young.

Outside of the breeding season, birds may move to different areas to find food and shelter. In certain areas, food sources can become scarce during the dry season, leading birds to move to wetter areas where flowers are more abundant.

The exact extent of these movements is not fully understood. However, recent studies using radio telemetry have shown that males may defend territories that extend over an area of around 1.75 hectares.

Conservation Implications

The Velvet-purple Coronet is currently listed as a species of least concern on the IUCN Red List, meaning that it is not currently at risk of extinction. However, the loss and fragmentation of its natural habitat due to deforestation, agriculture, and urbanization pose significant threats to the bird’s long-term survival.

The bird’s habitat specialist status means that it is particularly vulnerable to these threats. As habitat loss and fragmentation continue, populations are likely to decline, leading to potential future threats.

Conservation efforts are necessary to protect the Velvet-purple Coronet and its habitat. Protected areas such as national parks and reserves provide vital habitat for the bird and should be expanded and managed appropriately.

Initiatives to promote sustainable agriculture and reduce deforestation rates are also important to help mitigate threats to the bird’s habitat. In addition to habitat protection, more research is needed to better understand the Velvet-purple Coronet’s movements and biology.

This information will be essential for effective conservation planning and management.

Conclusion

The Velvet-purple Coronet is a non-migratory species of hummingbird that is highly adapted to its specific habitat in the Andes of South America. Loss and fragmentation of its natural habitat pose significant threats to its long-term survival, and conservation efforts are essential.

Habitat protection, sustainable agriculture, and reducing deforestation rates are all important steps in securing the future of this stunning species. Understanding the bird’s movements and biology can also inform effective conservation planning and management.

Diet and Foraging

The Velvet-purple Coronet is a nectarivorous bird that feeds on the nectar of flowers using its long tongue to extract the sugary liquid. The bird is also known to eat small insects and spiders.

Feeding

The bird has a specialized beak and long, slender tongue that aids in extracting neotropical flower nectar. It has been observed visiting over 90 species of flowering plants in its habitat.

The bird hovers and inserts its beak into the center of the flower, using its long tongue to lap up nectar while also gathering pollen. The bird feeds multiple times a day, and during the breeding season, males defend specific territories that contain a high density of flowers to maximize access to food resources.

Diet

The Velvet-purple Coronet’s diet consists primarily of flower nectar, which provides the majority of its energy needs. The bird also consumes small insects and spiders to supplement its diet with protein and essential nutrients.

While insects and spiders are not a large component of their total diet, they are an important factor in the breeding season when the birds need extra protein to sustain their reproductive functions.

Metabolism and Temperature Regulation

The metabolism and thermoregulation of hummingbirds, including the Velvet-purple Coronet, are specialized to help them maintain high levels of energy and activity while surviving in their high elevation habitats. The bird’s small size and high metabolism rate allow it to consume large amounts of food relative to its body size, providing a high energy source for its rapid wing beats.

The bird also has a unique ability to enter torpor, a state of reduced metabolic activity that allows it to conserve energy during cold nights or periods of fasting.

Sounds and Vocal

Behavior

The Velvet-purple Coronet is known for its conspicuous vocalization, which is composed of multiple notes. The bird’s calls are relatively simple in structure, consisting of brief buzzes and high-pitched chirping noises.

Vocalization

Male Velvet-purple Coronets are known for their distinctive calls, which include a high-pitched, metallic buzzing noise. The bird produces this sound by rapidly flapping its wings during flight, creating an acoustic signal that can be heard over long distances.

Male birds also produce a more complex call during courtship displays, consisting of a series of short notes and trills. Female Velvet-purple Coronets do not produce the same complex vocalizations as males, but they are known to make soft chirping sounds during feeding and other activities.

The precise function of these vocalizations is not well understood.

Conclusion

The Velvet-purple Coronet is a specialized hummingbird species that relies almost exclusively on nectar for its energy needs. The bird has a unique foraging behavior, allowing it to efficiently extract nectar from flowers using its long tongue and specialized beak.

The bird is also known to consume small insects and spiders to supplement its protein and nutrient requirements. The bird’s unique size, metabolism, and thermoregulation make it well adapted to its high elevation habitat.

The bird’s vocalization is simple yet distinctive, with males producing a metallic buzzing noise and complex calls during courtship displays.

Behavior

The Velvet-purple Coronet is an active and aggressive bird, particularly during the breeding season. They engage in various behaviors such as locomotion, self-maintenance, agonistic behavior, and sexual behavior.

Locomotion

The Velvet-purple Coronet is an agile bird, capable of rapid and maneuverable flight. They are highly adapted to their mountainous habitat and can fly in any direction with great precision, even in windy conditions.

The bird is also capable of hovering on a stationary flight, allowing it to feed on nectar from stationary flowers.

Self-Maintenance

Like all birds, the Velvet-purple Coronet engages in self-maintenance behaviors such as preening and bathing. Preening removes dirt and parasites from the feathers while also helping to align and oil them.

Bathing is an essential behavior that helps keep the feathers in good condition. The bird bathes by splashing water onto its feathers or immersing itself in water.

Agonistic

Behavior

The Velvet-purple Coronet is known for its aggressive behavior, particularly during the breeding season when males compete for territories and potential mates. Males engage in aerial battles, chasing and harassing other males who enter their territory.

These territorial battles may involve a series of vocalizations and wingbeats, with the two males hovering and circling around each other in the air. Sexual

Behavior

The Velvet-purple Coronet breeds during the rainy season.

Males defend territories that contain an abundance of food sources and suitable nesting sites, which they use to attract potential mates. Females select their mates based on the quality of their territory and their ability to provide for their offspring.

During courtship displays, males perform aerial displays and engage in high-pitched vocalizations to attract females.

Breeding

The breeding season of the Velvet-purple Coronet occurs during the rainy months, typically from December to May. Males defend specific territories that contain suitable nesting sites and abundant food sources, which they use to attract females.

Nesting sites are typically located in trees and shrubs, with the nest attached to the underside of a leaf. The nest is constructed from soft plant fibers, moss, and lichen, and lined with spiderwebs.

The female lays one to two white eggs, and both parents care for the young. The incubation period is around 15 to 18 days, and young birds fledge around 25 days after hatching.

Demography and Populations

The Velvet-purple Coronet is a relatively common bird in its range, but it is listed as a Species of Least Concern on the IUCN Red List because of significant threats to its habitat and population. The bird is sensitive to changes in habitat and is at risk of population decline due to habitat loss and fragmentation.

Efforts are being made to protect the bird’s habitat and establish protected areas, such as nature reserves and national parks. In scientific terms, there is very little scientific data on the demography and population dynamics of the Velvet-purple Coronet, including information on birth, death rates, and migration patterns.

Conclusion

The Velvet-purple Coronet engages in many behaviors, including locomotion, self-maintenance, agonistic and sexual behavior. The bird is adaptive to its mountainous habitat and performs well in windy conditions.

The aggressive behavior of males during breeding season is a significant factor in this bird, as they compete for territories and potential mates. The bird’s breeding habits include specific territorial selection and nest construction.

Conservation efforts are put in place to create and protect habitats for the bird in the form of protected areas. There is a need to increase scientific research in the area of population and demography to improve conservation efforts.

The Velvet-purple Coronet is a fascinating species of hummingbird that inhabits the Andes of South America. Through in-depth analysis, we have explored the identification, plumages, molts, related species, distribution, and habitat, diet and foraging, sounds and vocal behavior, behavior, breeding, and demography.

These characteristics and data available on the species highlight the fact that the Velvet-purple Coronet relies heavily on its specialized and limited habitat and is subject to environmental threats of habitat loss and destruction. With the slow decrease in population numbers, essential action must be taken to increase research, protect habitats, and promote conservation efforts to ensure a sustainable conservation future for the Velvet-purple Coronet.

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