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A photo of a Brown Violetear (Colibri delphinae)
Brown Violetear

Brown Violetear

Colibri delphinae

The brown violetear, scientifically known as Colibri delphinae, is a large and distinctive hummingbird. It presents a predominantly dull brown plumage, accented by a rufous rump and more subdued grey underparts. A notable feature is the violet patch that extends from behind the eye, complemented by a malar stripe reminiscent of a hermit's and a shimmering gorget of green and blue on the throat. The bird's bill is relatively short and nearly straight, an adaptation to its feeding habits.

Identification Tips

Adult brown violetears are unmistakable with their unique coloration. The male boasts a vibrant throat patch, while the female's is smaller. Juveniles can be identified by the rufous edges on their upperparts and the reduced or absent violet patch behind their eyes.

Habitat

This species thrives in the forested mountainous regions, preferring altitudes between 400 and 1600 meters. It is commonly found in the rainforest canopy, tall secondary growth, and even coffee plantations. The brown violetear adapts to various environments, from lowlands to edges and clearings, especially when not nesting.

Distribution

The brown violetear is native to Central America and parts of South America, primarily the Andes and the tepuis. It also has isolated populations on Trinidad and in Bahia, Brazil.

Behaviour

Outside of the breeding season, the brown violetear is known to disperse into lower elevations. It is not particularly territorial but exhibits high levels of aggression, especially noticeable at feeding sites where it often engages in aerial skirmishes with other hummingbirds.

Song & Calls

The vocal repertoire of the brown violetear includes a robust 'chit' call, which males repeat vigorously, often in loose leks during the breeding season.

Breeding

Nesting occurs at moderate elevations, with the bird fashioning a small cup-shaped nest from plant down, placed on a twig within a bush. The female lays two white eggs, which she incubates.

Similar Species

The brown violetear may be confused with its relative, the lesser violetear (C. cyanotus), which occupies higher altitudes but has an overlapping range.

Diet and Feeding

Nectar from small flowers of trees, shrubs, and epiphytes comprises the bulk of the brown violetear's diet. It also captures insects in flight, a behavior known as hawking, to supplement its protein intake.

Conservation status

The IUCN Red List classifies the brown violetear as Least Concern, indicating a stable population without significant immediate threats to its survival.

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