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Unveiling the Fascinating Behavior of the Elusive Band-tailed Barbthroat

Band-tailed Barbthroat: The Elusive Hummingbird

Hummingbirds are some of the most fascinating creatures on our planet. Their incredible ability to hover in mid-air, flashy plumage, and lightning-fast movements make them a bird lover’s favorite.

One such species that stands out from the rest is the Band-tailed Barbthroat, also known as Threnetes ruckeri.


The Band-tailed Barbthroat is a small hummingbird species found in the countries of Colombia, Ecuador, and Panama. Adult males have a metallic green crown and a blue-green back.

The throat and chin are pale green, while the breast is a deeper green color. The tail is square-shaped, with a black tip and white-colored band in the middle.

Females, on the other hand, have similar plumage, but their throat and chest are pale grayish-brown. Field


Band-tailed Barbthroats are difficult to spot in the field because of their secretive behavior.

Most often, they are seen in the lower to middle stories of the forest where there are dense understories. When foraging, they prefer to perch upright on small branches.

Their fast and direct flight is what sets them apart from other hummingbirds.

Similar Species

One of the most similar species to the Band-tailed Barbthroat is the Amazilia hummingbird, particularly the female. The main difference between the two is that the Amazilia female has a distinctly rufous-colored tail.

It is essential to pay attention to the field marks when trying to identify these two species.


The Band-tailed Barbthroat has three different plumages: juvenile, immature, and adult. After hatching from the egg, the newborn chick is covered in white down feathers.

As it ages, the juvenile’s feathers start to grow, and few spots of green appear on the back and crown. The immature plumage is reached once the bird has attained its first set of real feathers.

The immature bird’s body is now mostly green with less visible spotting than the juvenile, but the bird’s throat and chest will remain pale in color. When the bird reaches adulthood, the male’s metallic green crown and blue-green back are fully visible.

At the same time, the Band-tailed Barbthroat’s white tail stripe becomes more prominent and formed. The female bird’s physique is also more apparent, and it is very hard to tell a juvenile female from an adult female.


Molt is an essential process where birds lose old feathers and replace them with new ones. It’s an essential part of a bird’s life cycle as it ensures that the feathers remain in tip-top shape and function well in their various roles.

For the Band-tailed Barbthroat, they undergo a complete prebasic molt every year, usually between June and August. During this time, the bird loses all its flight and contour feathers and starts to grow new ones.

The process takes about 3-4 weeks to complete, and during this time, the bird can appear quite ragged and unkempt. In conclusion, the Band-tailed Barbthroat is a beautiful but elusive species of hummingbird.

Its unique metallic green and square-shaped tail make it a sight to behold. Although the bird is hard to spot in the wild, with keen observation and proper field identification, you can distinguish it from other similar species.

Understanding the different plumages and molts of the bird is also essential as it gives insight into their life cycle. Next time you’re in the field, keep an eye out for this elusive beauty!

Systematics History of the Band-tailed Barbthroat

The Band-tailed Barbthroat, also known as Threnetes ruckeri, is a small hummingbird species found in parts of South America. Its systematics history has undergone several revisions over the years, leading to a better understanding of its taxonomic classification.

This article delves into the systematics history of the Band-tailed Barbthroat, its geographic variation, subspecies, related species, and historical changes in distribution.

Geographic Variation

Geographic variation refers to physical differences that occur within the same species resulting from adaptions to local environments. The Band-tailed Barbthroat exhibits minor geographic variation across its range, with slight differences in coloration and size.

For example, birds in the northern parts of its range tend to have a more bronzed-green coloration than those further south.


The Band-tailed Barbthroat has four recognized subspecies, which are distinguished by geographic distribution and physical characteristics. These subspecies are:


Threnetes ruckeri ruckeri: This subspecies is found in the Pacific lowlands of Ecuador. 2.

Threnetes ruckeri borealis: This subspecies is found in the Pacific lowlands of western Colombia, near the border with Panama. 3.

Threnetes ruckeri nigriceps: This subspecies is found in the Pacific lowlands of western Colombia, near the border with Ecuador. 4.

Threnetes ruckeri oedistictus: This subspecies is found in Panama, from the Pacific lowlands to the mountain forests of the Azuero Peninsula. One distinguishing physical characteristic of the different subspecies is the degree of white tail banding.

Threnetes ruckeri borealis and Threnetes ruckeri nigriceps have thicker white tail bands than the other subspecies.

Related Species

The Band-tailed Barbthroat belongs to the family Trochilidae, which includes over 300 hummingbird species worldwide. Its closest known relative is the Emerald-bellied Puffleg (Eriocnemis aline).

The Emerald-bellied Puffleg is found in the Andes mountains of Colombia, Ecuador, and Peru. Phylogenetic analysis has revealed that both species share a common ancestor, indicating that they diverged from a common ancestor between 4 and 5 million years ago.

Historical Changes to Distribution

Historical changes to distribution refer to shifts in the range and distribution of a species over time. The Band-tailed Barbthroat’s distribution has been affected by habitat loss and fragmentation, resulting in a decline in population numbers.

The species is currently classified as “Near Threatened” by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). In the past, the Band-tailed Barbthroat was thought to have been confined to the Pacific lowlands of western Colombia and Ecuador.

However, a study conducted in 1991 found the species in Panama’s Pacific lowlands, extending its range further south. Since then, the species’ range has continued to shift, driven by the rapid loss of forest habitat.

Climate change is another factor that may contribute to the Band-tailed Barbthroat’s distribution changes, as it is known to alter ecological conditions, such as the availability of food and suitable habitats. Changes in humidity and temperature conditions may also shift the bird’s preferred foraging habitats.

In conclusion, the Band-tailed Barbthroat’s systematics history has undergone significant revisions over the years, leading to a better understanding of its taxonomy and relationship to other species. Its geographic variation and subspecies have been studied to better distinguish between populations.

The species is closely related to the Emerald-bellied Puffleg and has undergone historical changes in distribution due to habitat loss and fragmentation. As such, conservation measures must be taken to protect this fascinating and elusive hummingbird species.

Habitat and

Movements of the Band-tailed Barbthroat

The Band-tailed Barbthroat (Threnetes ruckeri) is a small, neotropical hummingbird species distributed across the Pacific lowlands of Colombia, Ecuador, and Panama. The species’ habitat, movements, and migration patterns offer crucial insights into its ecological requirements and conservation needs.

This article delves into the Band-tailed Barbthroat’s habitat preferences, movements, and migration, based on current research.


Band-tailed Barbthroats are primarily found in humid forests, where they feed on nectar from flowering plants. The preferred altitude range of this species is between 200 and 1200 meters above sea level, although they have been reported up to 2500 meters.

They can be found in a range of humid forest types, including primary and secondary forests, riparian areas, and forest gaps. The species is also occasionally observed in coffee and banana plantations.

Nectar plants are an essential part of the species’ habitat requirements, and the Band-tailed Barbthroat feeds primarily on plant families such as Gesneriaceae, Ericaceae, and Bromeliaceae. In addition to nectar, the species will also take small insects and spiders as part of its diet.


Although not much is known about the movements of the Band-tailed Barbthroat, the species is generally considered to be non-migratory, with most individuals residing year-round in their primary range. However, seasonal changes and habitat availability can significantly impact the species’ movements within its range.

During the wet season, when flowering plants are abundant, Band-tailed Barbthroats tend to stay in lowland forests. However, they can also move to higher elevations during the dry season, where there is more moisture in the air and therefore more flowering plants.

In areas where the Barbtail Tailed Barbthroat is a resident year-round, some individuals may disperse to new locations in response to habitat changes, fragmentation, or other environmental conditions.


Studies have shown that some migratory hummingbird species from North America may spend the winter months in Central and South America before returning to their breeding grounds in the spring. However, there is currently no direct evidence to suggest that the Band-tailed Barbthroat migrates to other locations outside of its range, nor has ringing data been employed to track the species’ movements.

Some observations in Panama have indicated that the species may move from low-lying areas up to mountains during the non-breeding season. Still, these observations are considered rare, especially given the high level of site fidelity observed in these birds.

Conservation Implications

The Band-tailed Barbthroat is currently listed as “Near Threatened” on the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s Red List of Threatened Species due to habitat loss and fragmentation resulting from deforestation, logging, and agricultural expansion. Conservation measures that can be taken to protect the Band-tailed Barbthroat include habitat conservation, restoration of degraded habitats, and the implementation of sustainable land-use practices.

The species’ dependency on nectar plants highlights the importance of maintaining the availability of plant species that are crucial for its survival. Additionally, given the impact that seasonal changes can have on its movements and foraging behavior, monitoring the species’ movements using technologies such as radio telemetry could provide useful data on its habits and highlight areas of importance that need to be protected.

In conclusion, the Band-tailed Barbthroat is a fascinating species of hummingbird with unique habitat preferences and movement patterns. Due to habitat loss and fragmentation, the conservation of the species remains a priority.

Efforts to protect and restore the habitat of the species and implement sustainable land use practices can help to mitigate threats, and this research highlights areas where action could be taken to reduce human-induced pressures on the species.

Diet and Foraging

Behavior of the Band-tailed Barbthroat

The Band-tailed Barbthroat (Threnetes ruckeri) is a small hummingbird species found in parts of South America. Hummingbirds are known for their unique flight and feeding behaviors, and the Band-tailed Barbthroat is no exception.

This article explores the diet and foraging behavior of the Band-tailed Barbthroat, including feeding behavior, diet, metabolism, and temperature regulation.

Feeding Behavior

Hummingbirds are unique in that they hover in the air while feeding. The Band-tailed Barbthroat is no exception and can hover in mid-air while feeding from flowering plants.

Unlike other birds, hummingbirds have a very high metabolism and must feed frequently to keep up with their energy requirements. To feed, the Band-tailed Barbthroat uses its long, thin bill to probe deep into flowers to extract nectar.

The bird’s long tongue is specially adapted to reach into flowers’ narrow tubes and collect the nectar.


The Band-tailed Barbthroat feeds primarily on nectar, which is used as a source of energy, particularly during flight. The sugar-rich nectar provides them with the energy they need to hover in mid-air and feed while also supplementing the dietary protein intake with small insects that are consumed accidentally while feeding.

Hummingbirds are known to be picky eaters and will often select nectar from particular flower species over others based on flower shape and quality. The Band-tailed Barbthroat is known to feed primarily on plant species such as Campanulaceae, Ericaceae, Melastomataceae, and Rubiaceae.

Additionally, the Band-tailed Barbthroat, like other hummingbirds, can feed on spiders and small insects such as aphids and small flies, consuming them during flower feeding to supplement their protein requirements.

Metabolism and Temperature Regulation

As hummingbirds have a high metabolism and a small body size, they need to maintain high body temperatures to function efficiently. To regulate their body temperature, hummingbirds have an efficient respiratory system that helps them maintain a high metabolic rate and a high heart rate.

The Band-tailed Barbthroat, like all hummingbirds, has an exceptionally high metabolic rate, with a resting metabolic rate that is 10 times higher than that of other similar-sized birds. To maintain the high metabolic rate, hummingbirds have a high oxygen-carrying capacity in their blood.

Additionally, Band-tailed Barbthroats have a specialized ability to enter a state of torpor, lowering their metabolism to conserve energy during times of low food availability.

Sounds and Vocal

Behavior of the Band-tailed Barbthroat

The Band-tailed Barbthroat has a unique set of vocalizations that have been documented in the wild. They produce a variety of sounds, including a series of weak, high-pitched notes that they often use while foraging.


The Band-tailed Barbthroat produces a high-pitched, zipping sound with its wings when it flies. This sound is produced by the vibration of the wings during flight and is a common hummingbird sound.

However, the Band-tailed Barbthroat is known for its unique, high-pitched chirping vocalizations, which are used for communication. Hummingbirds have specialized muscles attached to their voice box, allowing them to produce a wide range of sounds.

The Band-tailed Barbthroat is no exception and has a unique set of calls that are specific to its species. These calls include a high-pitched “tsip” sound that the bird uses to communicate with other individuals of the same species or defend its territory.

In conclusion, the Band-tailed Barbthroat is a unique species of hummingbird with specialized feeding behavior, diet, metabolism, and temperature regulation. The bird has a high metabolic rate and maintains body temperature through specialized respiratory and cardiovascular mechanisms.

Vocalizations are an essential part of the species’ behavioral repertoire, and the unique, high-pitched chirping vocalizations that it produces help to identify the species. These characteristics make the Band-tailed Barbthroat an intriguing and fascinating bird to observe in the wild.

Behavior of the Band-tailed Barbthroat

The Band-tailed Barbthroat (Threnetes ruckeri) is a small, neotropical hummingbird species found in parts of Colombia, Ecuador, and Panama. While little is known about their behavior, studies have shed light on their locomotion, self-maintenance, agonistic behavior, sexual behavior, breeding, and demography.

This article explores some of these aspects in more detail.


Like all hummingbirds, the Band-tailed Barbthroat is a skilled flyer, able to hover in place for extended periods of time and fly backwards. They move with incredible speed, often zipping between trees and flowers using rapid, direct flight.

The species is known to use flowers and small branches as perches while feeding and resting.


Hummingbirds are fastidious self-maintainers, using specialized feathers to keep their bodies clean and free of dirt and parasites. The Band-tailed Barbthroat uses its long bill to pick through its feathers, which helps to remove dirt and parasites.

They also take frequent dust baths, rolling in dry dirt and sand to help remove parasites and oil from their feathers.

Agonistic Behavior

The Band-tailed Barbthroat is known to exhibit aggressive behavior towards other hummingbirds, particularly of the same sex. Males will often defend feeding territories from other males, flashing their head feathers and making high-pitched calls to warn off intruders.

Females, on the other hand, are less territorial, but will fiercely defend their nests from predators and other intruders.

Sexual Behavior

Band-tailed Barbthroats use a lek mating system where males gather in a specific location and perform elaborate flight displays to attract females. The males perform a series of aerobatic maneuvers, including diving and spiraling, while making a series of high-pitched, chirping calls.

The displays help to attract females to the lek, where they will select a male and mate.


The breeding season for the Band-tailed Barbthroat varies across its range, depending on environmental conditions and seasonal changes. Nest construction begins in the rainy season, around December and finishes in January.

Females construct their nests using soft plant fibers, moss, and spider webs, camouflaging the exterior with lichens, which help to protect the nest from predators. The clutch typically consists of two eggs, which are incubated by the female.

Incubation lasts around 15 to 16 days, and the young fledge from the

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