Bird O'clock

Discover the Beautiful Veraguan Mango: Hummingbird Facts and Behaviors

The Veraguan Mango, also known by its scientific name Anthracothorax veraguensis, is a colorful bird species that inhabits the humid forests of Costa Rica and western Panama. This bird belongs to the family of hummingbirds and is considered one of the most beautiful species in the region.

Identification:

Field Identification:

The Veraguan Mango can be easily identified by its striking emerald-green feathers that cover most of its body, including the head, neck, and back. This bird also has a distinctive white spot behind its eye, a black bill, and a long, forked tail.

Its size varies between 8 and 10 cm in length and weighs only 4.2 grams. Similar Species:

One of the most similar species to the Veraguan Mango is the Rufous-tailed Hummingbird.

However, the Veraguan Mango has a shorter bill and a larger white spot behind its eye. Another similar species is the Green-crowned Brilliant, which can be distinguished from the Veraguan Mango by having a green crown and reddish-brown wings.

Plumages:

The Veraguan Mango has a characteristic green plumage that is iridescent in good lighting conditions. It has a molt pattern that is typical of hummingbird species, with an incomplete molt that occurs several times throughout the year.

However, the molt pattern of the Veraguan Mango is still not well studied and documented. Molts:

Hummingbirds, including the Veraguan Mango, have a unique molt pattern that differs from most passerine birds.

They undergo at least two molts per year, with some species undergoing daily molt cycles that involve the replacement of a few feathers each day. During the pre-basic molt, hummingbirds replace their body feathers, including the wing and tail feathers.

The pre-alternate molt occurs in the breeding season and involves the replacement of colorful feathers, such as the throat patch and crown feathers of male hummingbirds. In conclusion, the Veraguan Mango is a fascinating bird species that is both beautiful and unique in many ways.

With its striking green plumage, long bill, and forked tail, it is easily identifiable in the field. Its molt pattern is still not well-known, but it is known that, like most hummingbirds, it undergoes multiple molts per year.

Next time you’re in the tropics, keep an eye out for these beautiful creatures!

Systematics History:

The Veraguan Mango, also known as Anthracothorax veraguensis, is a beautiful bird species belonging to the Trochilidae family. When first described within the genus Toxotes by John Gould in 1853, he believed the specimen to have been collected from Veragua, which turned out to be incorrect.

In 1861 Philip Sclater re-described the species under P,T, Pitta, Chatognatha, part of the Lydekker catalogue. Later in 1865, Adolphe Boucard, a French ornithologist, referred to this bird as Anthracothorax veraguensis in his description.

However, this name was also inaccurate as the bird was not from Veragua, but from Veraguas. Geographic Variation:

The Veraguan Mango species inhabits the cloud forests of Costa Rica and Panama and is divided into several geographic variations based on its range.

The highest concentration of this species is found in the western region of Panama. This bird species does not undertake long-distance migration but rather maintains a relatively stable distribution all year round.

Subspecies:

There are two acknowledged subspecies of the Veraguan Mango: Anthracothorax veraguensis veraguensis and Anthracothorax veraguensis aurulentus. A.

v. aurulentus is found in Costa Rica and Nicaragua, while A.

v. veraguensis is primarily found in Panama.

A. v.

aurulentus is different in terms of its yellow coloring on its belly and lower throat, while A. v.

veraguensis has a chestnut-colored patch on its throat. Related Species:

The Veraguan Mango is a member of the Trochilidae family, commonly known as hummingbirds, and shares many physical characteristics with other species in the family.

Hummingbirds have a unique morphological structure that distinguishes them from other bird families, including a slender, streamlined body, a longer bill, and wings that are adapted for hovering. The Veraguan Mango is most closely related to the Black-throated Mango (Anthracothorax nigricollis), another species of hummingbird that resides in Central and South America.

Historical Changes to Distribution:

The Veraguan Mango is primarily a cloud forest inhabitant and as a result has experienced significant historical changes to its distribution. Due to human activities such as deforestation and agriculture, much of the cloud forest habitats of this species have been cleared or degraded, leading to its decline in numbers.

Historically, the Veraguan Mango has experienced range expansion during warmer tropical periods, particularly during the Pliocene epoch, an era when forests extended from Panama into North America. However, the species did not persist in these regions during subsequent glaciations, densely populated cloud forest habitats creating barriers for the bird to disperse.

There are also likely to have been changes in the population size and genetic diversity of the Veraguan Mango resulting from human impacts such as habitat loss, fragmentation and degradation. Populations of Veraguan Mango have been threatened by human activities such as agricultural conversion resulting in habitat destruction.

Hunting and trapping of these birds are also a significant problem because of their beauty and use in local rituals and medicine. Although there is little evidence of the notable population decline, the species is listed as a Least Concern according to the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s Red List of Threatened Species.

Overall, the Veraguan Mango is a fascinating bird species with a rich history and a unique place in the ecosystem. While its distribution has experienced historical changes over time due to human activities, it continues to thrive in some regions, and efforts to protect its habitat and monitor populations remain critical to ensure its long-term survival.

Habitat:

The Veraguan Mango is typically found in cloud forests and high-altitude rainforests, where it occurs at elevations of up to 1,500 meters above sea level in both Panama and Costa Rica. It has a strong preference for areas where water is abundant, such as streams, rivers, or waterfalls, where it feeds on nectar from flowers that thrive in these habitats.

These forests have a high diversity of plant species, making up the primary food source of the Veraguan Mango. Movements and Migration:

The Veraguan Mango is primarily a non-migratory species that maintains a relatively stable distribution all year round.

They do not breed outside of their range, and juveniles typically disperse only a few kilometers from their natal sites. Nonetheless, some individuals may undertake short-distance movements during the non-breeding season in search of alternative food sources, particularly during periods of food shortage.

In Panama, the species has been recorded to wander into lower elevations during the dry season in search of food and return to cloud forest habitats in the wet season when flowering plants are abundant. Breeding behaviors can vary among bird species.

Anthropogenic changes such as deforestation, increased temperature, and other environmental threats, may influence their breeding behaviors. The Veraguan Mango is polygynous, meaning that males mate with more than one female during their breeding season, which occurs between March and August in Costa Rica.

The males perform aerial courtship displays, which involve flying over the females while making sharp chirping noises with their wings, and competing for mating opportunities. Protection efforts for the Veraguan Mango species are necessary to preserve their habitat, which is vital for their survival as it provides nesting and breeding locations.

In Costa Rica, for example, the Veraguan Mango is protected by law, and it is illegal to capture, transport, trade, or otherwise exploit them. Overall, the Veraguan Mango is an enchanting bird species that contributes significantly to the diversity of avifauna in its ecosystem.

Its habitat and behavior are closely linked to the forest and waterfalls that provide them with the essentials of life. By protecting these ecosystems, we can safeguard not only the Veraguan Mango but also the many other essential species that call them home.

Diet and Foraging:

Feeding:

The Veraguan Mango is a nectarivore that is primarily interested in drinking flower nectar, much like other hummingbird species. They opt for a diet that is low in carbohydrates, high in proteins, and high in antioxidants.

They are attracted to red, orange, or pink tubular flowers that have high sugar concentrations. Additionally, the Veraguan Mango’s long, slender bill allows it to reach deep into flowers and extract nectar.

This makes them particularly well-suited to feed and collect nutrients in narrow spaces where other hummingbirds cannot reach. Diet:

In addition to flower nectar, the Veraguan Mango will also feed on small insects such as gnats and aphids.

It is also known to consume small amounts of tree sap and pollen, providing it with the necessary nutrients to survive. Metabolism and Temperature Regulation:

The Veraguan Mango has a high metabolism that enables it to fly with incredible speed and efficiency, consuming food at a rate that is six times greater compared to a house sparrow.

Similarly, it is known for having a high body temperature that can reach up to 42 degrees Celsius (108 degrees Fahrenheit) during flight. These high metabolic rates allow the Veraguan Mango to maintain aerobic respiration during flight, which is critical to hummingbirds.

Therefore, the food they consume must provide them with the energy to remain in the air and must be quickly metabolized. Sounds and Vocal Behavior:

Vocalization:

Like other hummingbirds, the Veraguan Mango uses vocalization in a variety of ways during breeding and communicating with other individuals.

The males are particularly vocal during their courtship displays, in which they emit loud, high-pitched chirps while darting through the air to display their aerobatic abilities. Hooding, perching, and displaying their plumage are also part of the attractant’s display.

In addition, the Veraguan Mango engages in vocalizations that are used to communicate with rival males or females in its area. These vocalizations can vary in length and frequency and are enough to make the competitors understand that it is time to fly somewhere else.

However, there are still significant limitations on research regarding the Veraguan Mango’s vocal behaviour. Overall, the Veraguan Mango is a striking bird species with unique dietary and vocalization habits.

Their highly specialized beaks and high metabolic rates allow them to consume and metabolize foods that other hummingbird species cannot, making them exceptional foragers. Likewise, their vocalizations are critical in species communication and competition, understanding these behaviours better can be essential for the monitoring and conservation efforts.

Behavior:

Locomotion:

The Veraguan Mango is a highly agile species that is capable of hovering in mid-air and making sharp turns, thanks in part to its unique flight muscles arrangement and highly aerodynamic body structure. It can reach speeds of up to 54 kilometers per hour while migrating, allowing it to cover significant distances in relatively short periods.

Self Maintenance:

Like other hummingbirds, the Veraguan Mango is known for its self-maintenance behaviours such as preening and bathing. Preening allows the bird to remove dirt and debris from its feathers, which may compromise its aerodynamic abilities, while bathing helps suppress ectoparasites, especially when water is limited.

Agonistic Behavior:

The Veraguan Mango’s territorial and protective behaviour is critical when it comes to defending their feeding sites, particularly against other birds such as the Rufous-tailed Hummingbird, which will often try to encroach their territory. In some instances, Veraguan Mango individuals will chase the intruders at high speeds out of their territory to protect its food source.

Sexual Behavior:

The Veraguan Mango’s sexual behaviour is similar to that of other hummingbirds, with males competing for mating opportunities with females. The males typically will perform aerobatic displays to attract the attention of potential mates, showcasing their speed, maneuverability, and vocal prowess.

After successful courtship, the male will mate with the female multiple times during the breeding season, leading to the formation and hatching of fertilized eggs. Breeding:

The Veraguan Mango’s breeding season is between March and August in Costa Rica.

During this time, males use their vocalizations to display and aggressively compete with other males for mating opportunities with females. Females will typically remain solitary during their nesting period, during which they will choose a suitable nest location, such as a small twig, leaf, or moss, to construct their nests.

Nests are often built 1-2 meters above the ground, and after the female has laid her eggs, she will incubate them for approximately 15 days before hatching occurs. After hatching, the hatchlings will be cared for by the female, who will continue to provide them with food, such as insect larvae, in addition to nectar.

Demography and Populations:

The Veraguan Mango’s populations are relatively stable in Central America. However, clear habitat degradation caused by anthropogenic activities, particularly land-use changes, has resulted in declines of the species’ population in some regions.

Additionally, they are also threatened by hunting and trapping for various traditional and cultural practices. Therefore, the conservation of the Veraguan Mango is critical to preserve the health of its ecosystem and to protect biodiversity in Central America.

Overall, the Veraguan Mango species’ behaviour is an essential aspect of its life cycle, from foraging for food to breeding and nesting. The adaptability of its behaviours is critical to maintaining its populations in different environments.

With the ongoing conservation efforts and unrestricted habitat protection, the Veraguan Mango is likely to continue thriving in its range in Central America. In conclusion, the Veraguan Mango is an enchanting bird species that contributes significantly to the diversity of avifauna in its ecosystem.

The highly specialized beak, high metabolic rates and unique flight muscles arrangement make the Veraguan Mango important foragers that are adapted to be fast-responders to external influences. Its habitat and behaviour are closely linked to the forest and waterfalls that provide them with the essentials of life, making its conservation a matter of urgency and importance.

Anthropogenic activities, from deforestation to hunting and trapping, pose critical threats to this species, and it is through a concerted effort that the populations of the Veraguan Mango can be protected and preserved. With ongoing conservation efforts, the Veraguan Mango species is sure to continue thriving, and help maintain the biodiversity of the beautiful ecosystems in Central America.

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