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7 Fascinating Facts About the Turquoise-Crowned Hummingbird

For many bird enthusiasts and wildlife lovers, the Turquoise-crowned Hummingbird, also known as Cynanthus doubledayi, is a popular bird species that can be found in the southwestern region of the United States and Mexico. This fascinating bird species is known for their vibrant plumage, tiny size, and their ability to fly at incredible speeds.

This article seeks to educate readers on the identification, plumages of the Turquoise-crowned Hummingbird, and the various factors that contribute to their identification and classification.

Identification

Field Identification

The Turquoise-crowned Hummingbird is a tiny bird species, and their length ranges from 7 to 9 cm long, with males being slightly larger than the females. They have a short bill, green back, turquoise-green crown and throat, and a white colored abdomen.

Their tiny size and vibrant coloration make them highly conspicuous, especially when they are feeding on flowers or darting through the air. They have wings that are short and rounded, enabling them to hover in place, which is characteristic of most hummingbirds.

The Turquoise-crowned Hummingbird’s tail is square, with greenish-black feathers and white tips.

Similar Species

The Turquoise-crowned Hummingbird’s appearance closely resembles that of some of the hummingbirds in Mexico, southwestern Texas, and Arizona. Some of these species include the Broad-billed Hummingbird, Berylline Hummingbird, and the Lucifer Hummingbird.

However, the turquoise-green color on the Turquoise-crowned Hummingbird’s crown and throat area sets them apart from these similar hummingbird species.

Plumages

Turquoise-crowned Hummingbirds show differences in both adult sex and age, which can affect their plumage. Juvenile birds usually have duller green feathers and an overall copper-toned body coloration, which is a result of their molt pattern.

Adult males exhibit a brighter turquoise-green crown and throat with an iridescent quality, while the adult female has a whitish-colored throat and a greenish crown.

Molts

Turquoise-crowned Hummingbirds have two molts per year, which impacts their coloration. The first molt is between January and March, and the second molt takes place between July and September.

During molting, the bird’s feathers become worn out, and they grow new ones to replace the old ones. During this period, their plumage might appear disheveled and dull as the new feathers are growing in.

Conclusion

The Turquoise-crowned Hummingbird is a colorful and fascinating bird species that is prevalent in the southwestern region of the United States and Mexico. Their unique physical features, such as colorful plumage, tiny size, and accelerated flight, make them a delight to observe.

Their identification, plumage and molt patterns, and similarities with other hummingbird species require a keen eye and attention to detail when identifying this bird species. This article provides valuable information to readers on how to identify and learn more about the Turquoise-crowned Hummingbird, contributing to your curiosity about this amazing species.

Systematics History

The Turquoise-crowned Hummingbird has been known to scientists since the mid-19th century, and since then, there have been multiple revisions in the classification of this species based on morphological, behavioral, and genetic traits. Today, the Turquoise-crowned Hummingbird is part of the Trochilidae family and is classified as a member of the genus Cynanthus.

Geographic Variation

The Turquoise-crowned Hummingbird exhibits a degree of geographic variation across its range, particularly in morphometric and coloration differences. Birds from the northernmost part of their range in Arizona have been observed to have a more extended bill and a narrower green ventral stripe.

On the other hand, birds from the southernmost parts of their range in Mexico have shorter bills, a wider ventral stripe, and a more vibrant turquoise-green crown and throat.

Subspecies

The Turquoise-crowned Hummingbird has nine recognized subspecies that are distinguished mainly by differences in size and geographic distribution. The subspecies of this species includes C.

d. margarethae, C.

d. chrysopetala, C.

d. curvieri, C.

d. diazii, C.

d. lucifer, C.

d. canivetti, C.

d. mindoensis, C.

d. saltuarius, and C.

d. doubledayi.

The various subspecies have been documented to have different morphology, vocalizations, and distribution patterns that have been useful to scientists in distinguishing individual subspecies.

Related Species

The Turquoise-crowned Hummingbird has a close relationship with other members of the Cynanthus genus, such as the Blue-throated Hummingbird (C. sordidus) and the white-eared hummingbird (C.

leucotis). These species are relatively larger than the Turquoise-crowned Hummingbird and have distinct vocalizations that can be used to differentiate them.

The Turquoise-crowned Hummingbird is also closely related to the black-chinned hummingbird (Archilochus alexandri), with which it shares a similar range and body morphology. The black-chinned hummingbird is, however, less colorful than its Turquoise-crowned cousin, with a predominantly green head and black-chinned throat.

Historical Changes to Distribution

Since the early 20th century, changes in the distribution of the Turquoise-crowned Hummingbird have been observed in the southwestern United States, likely as a result of habitat loss and modification. In the early 20th century, this species was common in southern California, where they were observed breeding in the coast ranges and mesas of San Diego.

However, by the mid-20th century, their populations had disappeared from this region, presumably due to habitat loss resulting from increased urbanization and agriculture expansion. Similarly, the range of the Turquoise-crowned Hummingbird in the United States has shifted northward over the last few decades.

In the 1970s and 1980s, populations of this species were commonly found in the mountains of southeastern Arizona. But by the 1990s, they had colonized areas farther north in southern Arizona and western New Mexico, including the Chiricahua Mountains.

The reasons for this expansion are not entirely clear but may be related to an increase in available habitat or changes in migration patterns. In Mexico, the Turquoise-crowned Hummingbird is relatively common, particularly in the central and western parts of the country.

However, their populations have been affected by habitat loss and fragmentation, and the extinction of some of the subspecies has been documented. For example, the C.

d. saltuarius subspecies was last sighted in 1951, and its extinction is attributed to habitat loss and fragmentation associated with forest clearing and livestock grazing activities.

Conclusion

The history of the Turquoise-crowned Hummingbird’s taxonomy has been marked by revisions based on morphological, genetic, and behavioral traits. The geographic variation observed within the range of this species has led to the recognition of multiple subspecies based on differences in size, coloration, and distribution patterns.

The historical changes in the distribution of the Turquoise-crowned Hummingbird are a reminder of the importance of conservation efforts in preserving the habitats of this species.

Habitat

The Turquoise-crowned Hummingbird is a bird species that thrives in open and semi-open habitats. They are commonly found in Arizona, New Mexico, and parts of Mexico where they reside in riparian areas, desert scrub, and oak-juniper woodlands.

In these areas, they favor breeding in areas with high canopy cover, typically on the edges of riparian corridors. In riparian areas, the Turquoise-crowned Hummingbird is typically seen foraging on the flowers of mesquite trees, willows, and other flowering plants, which are the main sources of their nectar and energy.

In desert scrub, they are observed foraging on the nectar of the flowers of the ocotillo, saguaro, and hedgehog cacti. They also feed on insects, especially during the breeding season when they require a high protein diet to support the development of their offspring.

Movements and Migration

The movements and migrations of the Turquoise-crowned Hummingbird are not well known. However, their presence in breeding territories during summer months and their absence during winter suggests that they might be migratory.

Scientists believe that some populations of this species undertake migratory movements to Mexico during winter, while others remain in Arizona and New Mexico throughout the year. During the winter months, the Turquoise-crowned Hummingbird is known to frequent the tropical montane forests of Mexico, where they find suitable habitats and feeding sources.

In these areas, they prefer feeding on flowering trees and shrubs, including the Escobillo and Arbol del Encino. The migratory patterns of this bird species are not well documented, and further studies are needed to shed light on their migration biology and ecology.

Compared to other hummingbirds, such as the Rufous Hummingbird (Selasphorus rufus), which undertake long-distance migrations between breeding and wintering areas, the movements and migration patterns of the Turquoise-crowned Hummingbird are relatively short and localized. This may be due to their preference for semi-open habitats, which provide adequate resources for their foraging needs, thus reducing their need to undertake long-distance movements.

In their breeding territories, Turquoise-crowned Hummingbirds exhibit territorial behavior where males occupy and defend their territories against other hummingbirds. During this period, males can be seen engaging in aerial displays, including flights, singing, and zigzag flights at high speeds, to attract mates and establish their dominion over a specific area.

Conclusion

The Turquoise-crowned Hummingbird’s habitat requirements and behavior have been documented in various studies. This species thrives in open and semi-open habitats, mainly riparian areas, and desert scrub.

They have a specialized diet, feeding on the nectar of flowering plants and insects, and they exhibit behavior such as territorial displays and migratory movements. Understanding these aspects of their biology and ecology is crucial in the conservation of this species and their habitat.

Further studies are necessary to shed more light on the movements and migration patterns of this fascinating bird species.

Diet and Foraging

The Turquoise-crowned Hummingbird is a nectarivorous bird species that feeds on nectar and insects. During the breeding season, their primary source of food is nectar from the flowers of trees, shrubs, and flowering plants.

They feed by hovering in front of the flowers or perching near them. They have long, slender, and slightly curved bills adapted to feed on the nectar of tubular flowers.

Their long tongue can extend up to the same length as their bill, enabling them to reach deep into the flower cavities to extract nectar. Apart from nectar, the Turquoise-crowned Hummingbird also feeds on insects, usually for protein during the breeding season.

They consume small insects such as spiders, flies, and gnats, which they capture in mid-air or pluck from the surfaces of leaves.

Metabolism and Temperature Regulation

The Turquoise-crowned Hummingbird has an exceptionally high metabolic rate, which allows it to sustain its high levels of energy and activity. Its metabolic rate is ten times higher than that of most other birds, enabling it to maintain its hovering and flying abilities, which require enormous amounts of energy.

The hummingbird’s small size and high metabolic rate are believed to be an adaptation to their specialized feeding habits and their aerial lifestyle. Hummingbirds have evolved an efficient thermoregulatory mechanism that allows them to maintain a stable core body temperature, even in extreme environmental conditions.

They have the ability to raise their metabolic rate and body temperature, compensating for the drop in body temperature that occurs during periods of inactivity or sleep. This adaptation enables them to maintain a constant body temperature, which is essential for their survival.

Sounds and Vocal Behavior

The Turquoise-crowned Hummingbird produces a suite of different vocalizations, which serve various purposes. During the breeding season, males produce sounds that are associated with courtship and territorial behavior.

They emit a series of high-pitched, sharp, and melodious songs, which are used to attract mates and establish their territories. The vocalizations of the Turquoise-crowned Hummingbird can be described as a series of sharp, squeaky calls that are repeated in rapid succession.

These vocalizations are used to communicate various social signals, including territorial boundaries and mating calls. Hummingbirds also have a specialized feather mechanism that enables them to produce a distinct buzzing sound during courtship and other social interactions.

The hummingbird’s tail feathers are structurally modified, allowing for greater flexibility and control. During courtship, males use their flexible tail feathers to produce a buzzing sound that accompanies their aerial displays, serving as an additional sign of their reproductive fitness to potential mates.

Conclusion

The Turquoise-crowned Hummingbird has several adaptations that allow it to thrive in its specialized niche as a nectarivorous bird species with high-energy needs. Its specialized feeding and thermoregulatory mechanisms enable it to sustain its high metabolic rate and fast-paced flight style.

Its vocalizations and feather adaptations enable it to communicate effectively during different social situations, such as courtship and territorial behavior. Understanding these aspects of the hummingbird’s biology is crucial for its conservation and preservation of its habitats.

Further research is needed to provide insight into the intricate details of the physiology and behavior of this fascinating bird species.

Behavior

Locomotion

The Turquoise-crowned Hummingbird is a highly active bird species that is capable of hovering in place, flying at incredible speeds, and maneuvering with precision in the air. They have strong and efficient wing muscles that enable them to flap their wings rapidly, allowing them to remain suspended in mid-air.

They are also able to fly backward, forward, and sideways with ease, making them highly suitable for feeding on flowers and chasing flying insects.

Self-Maintenance

Turquoise-crowned Hummingbirds have several behaviors that contribute to their self-maintenance and cleanliness. They use their bills to preen their feathers, making sure that they are clean and free of dirt, parasites, and debris.

They also take dust baths, during which they roll around in dust, removing excess oils and dirt from their feathers. They use their long, flexible tongue to clean their bill and face, which they can also use foraging flowers to act as a humidifier during hot weather.

Agonistic Behavior

Turquoise-crowned Hummingbirds are highly territorial and are known for their aggressive behavior towards intruders. Males occupy a specific breeding territory, which they defend against rivals and other hummingbirds.

They exhibit territorial displays, including aerial chases, calling, and physical aggression towards rivals. They pursue intruders in a zigzag flight pattern and can dart at them with incredible speed.

Sexual Behavior

During the breeding season, male Turquoise-crowned Hummingbirds engage in elaborate courtship displays to attract females. They perform zigzagging flights, hovering, and singing songs while displaying their brightly colored plumage.

Females select males for their high-quality displays, with males who perform best often winning the mating rights. After mating, the female constructs the nest and incubates the eggs while the male remains perched nearby to perform sentinel duties.

Breeding

The Turquoise-crowned Hummingbird breeds during the spring and summer months, with males arriving at their breeding sites as early as March. The male establishes a breeding territory and performs aerial displays to attract a mate.

After mating, the female constructs a nest using materials such as plant down, spider webs, and other soft and pliable materials. The nest is cup-shaped and is usually constructed at a height of 1-3 meters above the ground or the water.

The female lays 2-3 white or off-white eggs, which she incubates for about 15-19 days. After hatching, the young birds are cared for by the female, who feeds them a diet of nectar and insects.

The young birds fledge from the nest after about 18-22 days. The nests are not reused in the same breeding season, with each new nesting cycle requiring a new nest to be constructed.

Demography and Populations

The Turquoise-crowned Hummingbird is a relatively common bird species in its range, with populations estimated to be in the hundreds of thousands. However, their populations have been declining as a result of habitat loss, fragmentation, and degradation.

They are also affected by the use of pesticides and other chemicals, which harm their food and water resources. The impact of climate change on this species is not well known, but variations in temperature and rainfall may have significant implications for their habitat and breeding cycles.

Conservation efforts have been initiated to protect the Turquoise-crowned Hummingbird and its habitats. These efforts include protecting riparian areas and other habitats, such as oak-juniper woodlands and desert scrub, from habitat destruction and degradation.

Education and awareness campaigns have also been set up to reduce pesticide use and promote habitat restoration and enhancement. Research efforts are also necessary to provide more insight into the biology, behavior, and ecology of this fascinating bird species, which can help in conserving and protecting their populations.

The Turquoise-crowned Hummingbird is a fascinating bird species that is prevalent

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