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Discover the Vibrant World of Berylline Hummingbirds: From Stunning Plumage to Intricate Courtship Displays

The Berylline Hummingbird, Saucerottia beryllina, is a stunning bird found in Central America and North America. Its vibrant plumage and unique shape make it a beautiful sight to behold.

In this article, we will look at how to identify this species, including its field identification and how it compares to similar species. We will also examine its plumages, including molts.

Identification

Field Identification

The Berylline Hummingbird is a medium-sized hummingbird, measuring up to 3.5 inches (9 cm) in length. The male has a metallic green back and crown, with a bright blue-green throat and breast.

Its wings are brownish-black with a flash of white on the wingtips. The female is less striking, with a duller green back and crown, a greyish breast, and a white-tipped tail.

Similar Species

The Berylline Hummingbird can be confused with other hummingbird species such as the Magnificent Hummingbird and the Blue-throated Hummingbird. However, the Magnificent Hummingbird is larger and has a different pattern on its throat, while the Blue-throated Hummingbird has a bluer throat and a more curved bill.

Plumages

The Berylline Hummingbird goes through several plumages during its life cycle. It has a juvenile plumage, a basic plumage, and an alternate plumage.

Juvenile Plumage

The juvenile plumage is acquired by the bird after it has fledged. The plumage is similar to that of the female, with a dull green back and crown and a white-tipped tail.

The juvenile plumage lasts until the bird begins its first molt.

Basic Plumage

The basic plumage is the plumage that the bird acquires after its first molt. The male bird’s basic plumage is similar to his juvenile plumage, but his throat and breast become brighter, with a metallic sheen.

The female maintains her dull green plumage.

Alternate Plumage

The alternate plumage is the plumage that the male bird acquires during the breeding season. His back and crown become a bright metallic green.

The throat and breast become a glowing, iridescent blue-green color. This is when the bird is most striking.

Molts

During the molting process, the Berylline Hummingbird sheds its old feathers and grows new ones.

Molts occur annually, typically after the breeding season.

The molt process can take several weeks, during which time the bird appears scruffy and less striking. Molting is an important process for birds as it helps maintain the health and structure of their feathers.

In conclusion, the Berylline Hummingbird is a beautiful and fascinating bird to watch. Its vibrant coloration and unique plumage make it a standout species.

This bird can be easily identified in the field, but care must be taken to distinguish it from other similar species. Understanding the bird’s plumages and molting process can help birdwatchers appreciate the various life stages of this remarkable species.

Systematics History

The Berylline Hummingbird, Saucerottia beryllina, belongs to the Trochilidae family of birds. Its taxonomy has undergone several changes in the past.

Originally, it was classified as belonging to the genus Amazilia but was later moved to the genus Saucerottia in 2016 after genetic analysis revealed that it was more closely related to other Saucerottia species.

Geographic Variation

The Berylline Hummingbird is a resident breeder in Central America, from southern Mexico to Costa Rica. It is also a rare summer visitor to Arizona, New Mexico, and Texas in the United States.

The bird’s range extends from the Pacific Slope of Mexico to the Cordillera de Talamanca in Costa Rica.

Subspecies

The Berylline Hummingbird has three recognized subspecies:

1. Saucerottia beryllina beryllina

2.

Saucerottia beryllina viola

3. Saucerottia beryllina marshalli

The subspecies Saucerottia beryllina beryllina is found from Mexico to Guatemala and is the nominate subspecies.

This subspecies has a slightly larger body compared to the other subspecies and a more iridescent throat. The subspecies Saucerottia beryllina viola is found in Nicaragua and Costa Rica and has a smaller, less iridescent throat compared to Saucerottia beryllina beryllina.

The subspecies Saucerottia beryllina marshalli is found in Mexico and has a slightly smaller body compared to Saucerottia beryllina beryllina.

Related Species

The Berylline Hummingbird is closely related to other species in the Saucerottia genus, including the Violaceous Hummingbird and the Glittering-throated Emerald. These species have similar plumage patterns and geographic ranges as the Berylline Hummingbird.

Historical Changes to Distribution

The distribution of the Berylline Hummingbird has undergone several changes in the past due to factors such as climate change and habitat destruction. The bird was once found in the Chiricahua Mountains in Arizona but disappeared due to logging and grazing activities in the early 1900s.

However, it reappeared in the 1960s after efforts were made to restore the habitat. Climate change is also affecting the bird’s distribution.

A study conducted in 2014 found that the range of the Berylline Hummingbird in Mexico has shifted northward over the past two decades. This shift is attributed to the changing climate, which is causing changes in vegetation patterns and causing the bird to adapt by moving to more suitable habitats.

Habitat destruction is a major threat to the Berylline Hummingbird. Its habitat, which includes arid and semi-arid scrubland, is being destroyed at an alarming rate due to agriculture, urbanization, and mining activities.

Conservation efforts are needed to protect the bird and its habitat from further destruction. In conclusion, the Berylline Hummingbird is a fascinating bird that has undergone taxonomic changes over time.

This bird has three recognized subspecies, each with its unique characteristics. The bird’s range has also undergone changes in the past due to climate change and habitat destruction.

Efforts are needed to protect this bird and its habitat to ensure its survival for future generations.

Habitat

The Berylline Hummingbird’s preferred habitat is semi-arid scrubland, open woodland, and thorn forest. The bird can be found in open areas with scattered shrubs and trees.

It is often found in dryland areas or in the foothills of mountains. In Mexico, it can be found at elevations ranging from sea level to 2,700 meters (8,800 feet).

The bird prefers areas with a low level of human disturbance, and it can be found in protected areas such as nature reserves and national parks.

Movements and Migration

The Berylline Hummingbird is a resident breeder in Central America and a rare visitor to the southwestern United States during the summer months. The bird does not undertake long-distance migrations, but it does undertake some movements in response to changes in food availability and habitat.

In Mexico, the bird’s range shifts to the north during the breeding season. During the non-breeding season, it moves back to its winter range.

This shift is thought to be related to changes in vegetation patterns caused by changes in rainfall. In the United States, the bird is a rare summer visitor to Arizona, New Mexico, and Texas.

The bird is thought to make a northward movement in the spring and a southward movement in the fall. The timing of these movements is closely linked to the availability of food.

The birds typically arrive in the United States in late March and depart in early September. The Berylline Hummingbird is known to make local movements in response to changes in vegetation patterns and food availability.

For example, during periods of drought, the bird may move to areas with higher rainfall or closer to water sources. Similarly, during periods of food scarcity, the bird may move to areas with a higher concentration of nectar-bearing flowers.

Conservation Status

The Berylline Hummingbird is classified as a species of least concern on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. However, given the threats to its habitat, conservation efforts are needed to protect the bird and its habitat.

The bird’s habitat is being destroyed at an alarming rate due to agriculture, urbanization, and mining activities. These activities are fragmenting the bird’s habitat and reducing the availability of food sources.

Climate change is also affecting the bird’s habitat by altering vegetation patterns. Conservation efforts are needed to protect the bird and its habitat.

Efforts are being made to establish protected areas to safeguard the bird and its habitat.

Habitat restoration programs are also underway to restore degraded areas and establish corridors to connect fragmented habitats.

Public education programs are also being conducted to raise awareness about the importance of protecting the bird and its habitat. In conclusion, the Berylline Hummingbird is a fascinating bird that is found in semi-arid scrubland, open woodland, and thorn forest.

The bird does not undertake long-distance migrations but does make local movements in response to changes in food availability and habitat. Conservation efforts are needed to protect the bird and its habitat from threats such as habitat destruction and climate change.

Diet and Foraging

Feeding

The Berylline Hummingbird feeds mainly on nectar from a variety of flowering plants. It has a long, narrow bill that is adapted to reach deep into flowers to extract nectar.

The bird also feeds on small insects, which provide an important source of protein. The bird’s tongue is flexible and can be extended to twice the length of its bill to access nectar deep in flowers.

Diet

The Berylline Hummingbird’s diet is highly dependent on the availability of nectar-bearing flowers. The bird feeds on a variety of flowering plants, including agaves, acacias, and yuccas.

The bird’s preferred flower species varies depending on the habitat and season. In addition to nectar, the bird also feeds on small insects such as spiders, beetles, and ants.

Metabolism and Temperature Regulation

Due to its small size, the Berylline Hummingbird has a high metabolism and requires a constant supply of food to maintain its energy levels. The bird’s body temperature is also exceptionally high at around 107 degrees Fahrenheit (42 degrees Celsius).

To regulate its body temperature, the bird relies on evaporative cooling through its respiratory system and panting.

Sounds and Vocal Behavior

Vocalization

The Berylline Hummingbird produces a range of vocalizations to communicate with others of its species. The male is more vocal than the female and produces a range of calls to advertise its territory and attract mates.

The bird’s vocalizations are high-pitched and consist of buzzing and trilling sounds. The male produces a variety of calls, including a sharp chipping sound, a scratchy trill, and a rolling trill.

These calls are used to advertise his presence and assert his territorial boundaries. The male may also use a quieter, whistling call when courting a female.

The female Berylline Hummingbird is less vocal than the male and produces only a few vocalizations. One of her calls is a short, chirping sound that she uses when disturbed or threatened.

When a male and a female come together, they may engage in a duet of rapid, high-pitched trills as part of their courtship display. These duets may involve intricate patterns of sounds and movements, and they play an important role in pair formation and mate selection.

In conclusion, the Berylline Hummingbird feeds mainly on nectar and small insects. Its diet is highly dependent on the availability of nectar-bearing flowers.

The bird has a high metabolism and requires a constant supply of food to maintain its energy levels. The Berylline Hummingbird produces a range of vocalizations, with the male being more vocal than the female.

The bird’s vocalizations are high-pitched and include buzzing and trilling sounds. The bird’s vocalizations play an important role in communication, territory establishment, and pair formation.

Behavior

Locomotion

The Berylline Hummingbird is a strong and agile flier, capable of hovering, flying backwards, and rapid acceleration. The bird’s wings beat at a rate of around 50 times per second during flight.

The bird’s wings are relatively short and broad, allowing for rapid flight and maneuverability.

Self Maintenance

The Berylline Hummingbird spends a significant amount of time preening its feathers to keep them in good condition. The bird has specialized feather structures called powder down, which produce a fine, powdery substance used to condition and waterproof the feathers.

The bird is also known to sunbathe, a behavior that is thought to help regulate feather mites.

Agonistic Behavior

The Berylline Hummingbird is highly territorial and will aggressively defend its feeding and nesting territories from other birds. Aggressive behaviors may include aerial chases, flaring of the throat feathers, and vocalizations.

If another bird enters its territory, the Berylline Hummingbird will chase it away with rapid aerial maneuvers and may even engage in physical contact.

Sexual Behavior

During the breeding season, males engage in elaborate courtship displays to attract females. The male will rise into the air, producing a loud trilling sound as he ascends.

He will then descend rapidly, creating a loud buzzing sound as he flies towards the female. The male may also perform a variety of aerial displays, including rapid wingbeats and circular flights around the female.

Breeding

The Berylline Hummingbird breeds during the rainy season, which varies depending on the location and can occur between June and September in Central America. During the breeding season, male birds establish and defend territories and try to attract females using displays and vocalizations.

The female builds the nest, which is typically a small cup-shaped structure made of plant fibers and spider webs. The nests are usually located on a branch or twig, often near the end of the branch.

The female lays two white eggs, which she incubates for around 14-16 days. Both parents take turns feeding and caring for the young.

The chicks fledge after around 21-24 days and may remain in the vicinity of the nest for up to a week before venturing further afield. The breeding season for the Berylline Hummingbird is relatively short, and the birds may only have one or two broods per year.

Demography and Populations

The Berylline Hummingbird is classified as a species of least concern on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. However, deforestation, habitat fragmentation, and climate change are major threats to the species and its populations.

Conservation efforts are needed to protect the bird and its habitat from further destruction. Efforts are being made to establish protected areas and corridors to connect fragmented habitats.

Public education programs are also being conducted to raise awareness about the importance of protecting the bird and its habitat. Population studies on the Berylline Hummingbird are limited, but it is believed that the species has reasonably stable populations in Central America.

In the United States, the bird is considered rare and is only found in a few locations. In conclusion, the Berylline Hummingbird is a highly territorial bird that exhibits a range of aggressive and courtship behaviors during the breeding season.

The bird builds a small cup-shaped nest and lays two eggs during the rainy season. The chicks fledge after around 21-24 days and are cared for by both parents.

The Berylline Hummingbird is a species of least concern, but threats such as deforestation, habitat fragmentation, and climate change pose a significant risk to its populations. The Berylline Hummingbird is a fascinating bird species that exhibits a wide range of characteristics and behaviors.

From its stunning plumage to its agile flight and intricate courtship displays, the bird has captured the attention of birdwatchers and nature enthusiasts worldwide. This species faces various threats, including habitat destruction and climate change, which have reduced its range and population sizes.

By understanding its unique behaviors, feeding habits, and breeding patterns, conservationists can work to protect the Berylline Hummingbird and its habitat, ensuring that this remarkable species continues to thrive for future generations to enjoy.

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