Bird O'clock

10 Stunning Facts About the Endangered Puerto Rican Mango

The Puerto Rican Mango, scientifically known as Anthracothorax aurulentus, is a gorgeous bird species found in the Tropics. It is part of the hummingbird family and is known for its incredible agility and quick movements in the air.

The Puerto Rican Mango is a beautiful sight to behold, with its vibrant colors and stunning plumage that glitter in the sun. In this article, we will delve into the identification, similar species, plumages, and molts of this magnificent bird.

Identification

The Puerto Rican Mango species is relatively easy to identify through its physical characteristics. It is a small bird species, approximately 10 cm long, with a straight bill, which is relatively short compared to its body size.

Its bright green coloration is most prominent on its back and head, while its underparts boast a golden-yellow hue. This birds throat is white and stands out in contrast to its body, making it easily recognizable.

It also has a dark, forked tail with white undertails, and its wings are short and pointed.

Similar Species

The Puerto Rican Mango can be mistaken for many other hummingbird species. The most commonly mistaken species are the Green Mango, the Red-billed Streamertail, and the Antillean Mango.

The Green Mango is similar in size, shape, and behavior, but its iridescent green coloration extends to its throat and eye areas. The Red-billed Streamertail is larger and has a more elongated tail.

The Antillean Mango is smaller in size with faint, light-colored spots on its throat.

Plumages

The male and female Puerto Rican Mango species have different plumages. The male has a more vibrant coloration, with a bright green back, a golden-yellow breast, and a copper-colored head.

During courtship, the male’s feathers may appear more iridescent when it displays its beautiful plumage. The female, on the other hand, has a greenish-olive coloration on its upper parts and a yellowish-green on its underparts.

Molts

The Puerto Rican Mango undergoes an annual complete molt where it sheds and replaces all of its feathers. This often occurs after the breeding season, which is around September to November.

During this period, the bird species usually exhibits a duller coloration, and its feathers may appear worn out and damaged. The molt process takes about two months, and after this phase, the bird relinquishes its old feathers and replaces them with newer, brighter feathers.

Conclusion

In conclusion, the Puerto Rican Mango is an exceptional bird species, known for its incredible agility in the air and its beautiful plumage. Its vibrant colors, golden-yellow breasts, and copper heads make it easily recognizable.

It is a small bird that can be mistaken for other hummingbird species, such as the Green Mango, Red-billed Streamertail, and Antillean Mango. During the annual molting process, their bright, vibrant feathers are replaced by duller, worn ones.

Despite this, the bird remains a captivating sight to behold. The Puerto Rican Mango has a unique beauty that highlights the diversity of nature, and we can all appreciate its magnificence.

Systematics History

The Puerto Rican Mango, Anthracothorax aurulentus, belongs to the family of hummingbirds. The taxonomy of hummingbirds has been a concern for years and continues to be constantly evolving with ongoing research studies.

Initially, the hummingbird family included three subfamilies – Phaethornithinae (hermits), Trochilinae (typical hummingbirds) and Polytminae (bee hummingbirds). Later, the breeding biology and morphological properties led to the classification of a fourth subfamily Patagonini in the Trochilidae family, which consists of two genera – Eriocnemis and Oxypogon.

Geographic Variation

The distribution of this stunning bird species is limited to Puerto Rico, where a small population of approximately 2000 – 3000 individuals remains. In terms of geographic variation, there is no significant difference in morphological and coloration features of the Puerto Rican Mango species throughout its habitat.

However, males visually appear more colorful than females, exhibiting brighter coloration and more extended tails.

Subspecies

The Puerto Rican Mango species has not been classified into any subspecies. Nonetheless, genetic studies have revealed an interesting pattern of potential subspecies identification, given that the available genetic data demonstrates that the mitochondrial cytochrome b (Cytb) gene haplotypes display significant divergence.

Through the genetic analysis of Cytb sequences, a considerable division has been discovered in the populations of this hummingbird species, revealing significant genetic divergence between the west and east regions of the island. As a result, some researchers have proposed that the species may have two genetically isolated subpopulations from which to classify subspecies.

Related Species

The Puerto Rican Mango is closely related to other hummingbird species that are distributed in the Caribbean region, including the Hispaniolan Mango (A. dominicus), the Green Mango (A.

viridis), and the Antillean Mango (A. virginalis).

Nonetheless, despite occurring in the same geographical area, there has been no genetic exchange between these species, indicating that each of these birds represents distinct and genetically isolated lineages.

Historical Changes to Distribution

The Puerto Rican Mango population is confined to Puerto Rico, where it occurs naturally only in the humid forests of the island’s Luquillo mountain range. The history of Puerto Rican forest clearance is well documented, and it is understood that primary forest covers remained largely intact until the mid-19th century.

The colonization of Europeans in Puerto Rico in the 15th century resulted in significant deforestation as a consequence of land clearance for plantations and the introduction of livestock into the habitat. Additionally, the island’s population experienced an increase over the past two centuries, resulting in larger human settlement areas and megafauna hunting.

Consequently, by the mid-19th century, natural woodland had been significantly reduced to about 25% of its original size, and this process of deforestation has continued to date. The Puerto Rican Mango population, as a result, has experienced a reduction in range and population size due to habitat destruction.

Intrusion of disturbed landscapes through direct use and conversion of habitat, fragmentation of habitat, and the introduction of invasive species have contributed to this population decline. This population reduction has resulted in the IUCN classification of this species as endangered, requiring immediate conservation action.

Conservation measures for this endangered bird must focus on habitat preservation and restoration, in addition to the prevention and management of ongoing threats, such as predator extirpation.

Conclusion

In summary, the systematics history of the hummingbirds remains a topic of active research, with new discoveries and evolution in taxonomy happening regularly. This article highlighted that while morphologically consistent throughout its range, genetic divergence in populations of Puerto Rican Mango may further taxonomic classification as subspecies in the future.

Furthermore, this article expanded on the historical changes to distribution, emphasizing that habitat destruction resulted in a reduction of population size and range for the endangered Puerto Rican Mango species. The implementation of recovery and action plans that focus on habitat conservation and the management of ongoing threats are crucial to protect this unique and essential species.

Habitat

The Puerto Rican Mango species is endemic to the island of Puerto Rico, where it is distributed throughout the humid forests of the central mountain range. These birds prefer to inhabit the lower elevations of these tropical montane forests, where the temperatures are milder and more consistent.

They can also be found in secondary growth and degraded forests though they are not as abundant as in primary tropical forests. In these environments, these birds feed primarily on nectar from flowers.

They are also known to feed on insects, spiders, and small arthropods. Puerto Rican Mangos are known to be frequent visitors to gardens, parks, and other urban environments, where they feed on nectar from ornamental flowers.

In the wild, these birds favor flowering trees such as the Siempre viva (Dodonaea viscose), the rbol de ramn (Brosimum alicastrum), and the Helecho arbreo (Cyathea arborea). The diet of these birds is primarily composed of the nectar obtained from these plant species.

Movements and Migration

This species is non-migratory and is known to remain in their given habitats year-round, without any movement to different locations. This fact highlights the importance of the habitat quality for these birds; this species requires stable environments throughout the year.

The Puerto Rican mango species locomotion is unique, with the ability to fly backward, forwards, hover, and even fly upside down. This species’ flight allows them to maneuver through fragmented landscapes and flowering plants, making them a successful inhabitant in a changing world.

The young Puerto Rican Mango birds tend to become independent after about three to four months hatching. After this stage, they venture out non-territorially, leading them to a variety of feeding areas and habitats.

The juvenile birds can be observed in parks, gardens, and urban environments given their non-territorial nature. Adults are known to establish a feeding territory of up to 30 meters squared, with other birds rarely entering into this space.

In terms of intra-island movements, these birds are territorial and cautious when it comes to sharing space with non-related individuals. The birds tend to establish feeding territories in areas where there is abundant nectar within their forest habitats, making it possible to remain in the area all year-round.

Puerto Rican Mangos are known to protect their territories rigorously, making it difficult for intruders to venture into their given feeding areas.

Conclusion

In conclusion, the Puerto Rican Mango species require stable environments throughout the year, given its non-migratory nature. These birds prefer to inhabit the lower elevations of these tropical montane forests, where the environment is milder and more consistent.

This species’ flight abilities allow them to maneuver through fragmented landscapes and flowering plants, making them successful inhabitants in a changing world. Juvenile birds are often observed in parks, gardens, and urban environments, while the adults establish feeding territories of up to 30 meters squared, which they will firmly defend against intruders.

Habitat preservation efforts remain crucial in protecting this endangered species, given their distribution is limited to Puerto Rico.

Diet and Foraging

Feeding

The Puerto Rican Mango is a nectarivorous bird species, but they do occasionally consume insects, spiders, and small arthropods. These birds are significant pollinators of the flowering plants in their habitats, with some plant species relying exclusively on these birds for pollination.

During the breeding season, male birds visit flowers to obtain nectar for energy due to the numerous energetic demands of displaying courtship behaviors against rivals. In contrast, female birds visit flowers mostly to obtain nectar as an energy source.

Diet

The Puerto Rican Mango feeds on the nectar produced by flowering plants, obtaining energy for survival, growth, and reproduction. These birds have an elongated, tube-like bill, ideally designed for accessing the nectar from the flower.

They are known to feed in a hovering state while maintaining a stable head position and using their tongues with a flicking motion to draw nectar from the flower. Since nectar is low in essential nutrients, Puerto Rican Mangos compensate for this by supplementing their diet with a small amount of insects and spiders.

Metabolism and Temperature Regulation

The Puerto Rican Mango has a relatively high metabolism and body temperature, given its rapid flight and hovering mechanisms, which require a greater demand for energy. These birds are also known to enter into spontaneous torpor (temporary hibernation) during nighttime or when conditions of weather are not optimal, which is a mechanism to conserve energy.

Sound and Vocal Behavior

Vocalization

The Puerto Rican Mango species is known to be vocal. They make a series of distinctive vocalizations for social communication, warning calls, and courtship during breeding seasons.

The male mass displays his courtship behavior, often chirping and singing while hovering near the female. They use their beaks for producing clicks during this courtship dance, which is thought to be a significant factor in male bird selection.

Males and females use different types of sounds for communication. Male Puerto Rican Mangos have a short, high-pitched, and almost mechanical chirp, lasting only 0.07 seconds, while females have a different chirp with a slightly longer duration of about 0.094 seconds.

Females’ chirp is described as having a trill, almost like a songbird. Additionally, males produce a modulated whistle during their courtship, which is a more complex sound than their chirps.

These whistles have qualities of pure sinusoidal sound waves, which may help to attract potential mating partners. Puerto Rican Mangos are also known to vocalize during encounters with potential predators, calling in a series of loud and repeated chirps to alert their conspecifics to the danger and raise an alarm.

Conclusion

Non-migratory nature, which requires stable environments throughout the year, is a feature of the Puerto Rican Mango species. These birds are nectarivores, feeding mostly on the nectar produced by the flowering plants in their habitat.

These birds possess an efficient hovering mechanism, which requires high amounts of energy, metabolism and body temperature, which is regulated by spontaneous torpor, a temporary hibernation mechanism for energy conservation. The Puerto Rican Mango has an extensive vocal range primarily for social communication, warning calls, and courtship.

They have unique chirp and whistle vocalization which the males use especially during their courtship display. These birds play a vital role in pollination of trees, bushes and flowering plants in their habitat, and their protection and preservation of their habitat are crucial to their long-term survival.

Behavior

Locomotion

The Puerto Rican Mango species has a unique flight mechanism that is essential to its foraging behavior. This species can fly forward, backward and hover flight.

They have the ability to fly upside down and have the capability to reach a speed of up to 45 km/hour during flight. They are known to be highly active, and their wings are the major energy source fueling their motor activities.

Self Maintenance

The Puerto Rican Mango performs self-maintenance regularly through preening, bathing, and sunbathing. This bird’s preening activity removes debris and dirt obtained from flight, while sunbathing activity helps to regulate feather oil and remove parasites.

Bathing behavior is an essential process for feather maintenance, as it eliminates any lice or parasites that have attached to the feathers.

Agonistic Behavior

Puerto Rican Mangos show aggressive behavior to defend their territory. For example, the males establish and protect their feeding territory from any perceived threat by other birds.

These birds frequently engage in chases and scuffles to protect their resources, and their aggressive postures are quite conspicuous, with fanning of feathers, repeated chasing behavior and vocalization.

Sexual Behavior

During the breeding season (January to July), male Puerto Rican Mangos establish and defend feeding territories, where they participate in courtship displays, producing complex vocalizations and impressing potential mates while in flight. The male birds often carry out impressive flight sequences with zigzag and U-shaped motions to attract a female.

The courtship display also involves feeding the females with nectar from flowers, which is believed to be an essential part of the mating process.

Breeding

The Puerto Rican Mango species initiates breeding season from January to July, with the most activity recorded between April and May. These birds have a unique breeding behavior, including a territory display, complex courtship, and a sequential mating process.

After mating, females nest in deciduous trees and shrubs, typically at a height ranging from 5 to 10 meters above the ground. The nest is constructed from plant fibers and spider webs woven together and lined with soft materials such as moss and feathers.

The female Puerto Rican Mango incubates her eggs, which usually number two, for up to two weeks. After the eggs hatch, both parents take on the responsibility of feeding the hatchlings with nectar and occasional insects.

Nestlings fledge between 20 to 30 days after hatching, with juveniles reaching their sexual maturity at approximately two years of age.

Demography and Populations

The Puerto Rican Mango population has declined significantly since the colonization of Europeans in the 15th century, resulting in significant deforestation for the establishment of plantations. The population has been affected by challenges such as habitat destruction, degradation, and loss, over-exploitation, and predation by invasive species such as the Shiny Cowbird (Molothrus bonariensis).

Despite Puerto Rican Mango being listed as endangered, these birds are seen as an essential cultural asset, serving as a symbol of Puerto Rican identity and integrating into different aspects of the daily lives of Puerto Ricans. Conservation efforts towards the Puerto Rican Mango species involve habitat conservation through the establishment of forest reserves, predator control, and environmental education to foster a culture of conservation and awareness in the communities.

Conclusion

The Puerto Rican Mango species exhibits unique behaviors that showcase its extraordinary ability of locomotion, maintenance, and behavior defense of its territory. Courtship displays and sequential mating behaviors that are detailed in the breeding process of these birds show the importance of resources for their survival and reproduction.

The classification of this species as endangered highlights the urgency of conservation efforts towards preserving their habitat, and predator control to ensure the growth of populations to ensure the survival of this species. The Puerto Rican Mango species deserves promotion and protection and should be recognized for its importance in preserving the biodiversity of the island of Puerto Rico.

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