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Antillean Crested Hummingbird

Orthorhyncus cristatus

The Antillean crested hummingbird, Orthorhyncus cristatus, is a small, vibrant bird distinguished by its crest—a rare feature among hummingbirds. The males are particularly striking with their bright, metallic hues, while females are more subdued in coloration.

Identification Tips

Males of this species boast a short, straight black bill and a head adorned with a green crest that shimmers metallic green to bright blue-green. Their upperparts are a dull metallic bronze-green, and the underparts are sooty black. The tail is black and rounded. Females, on the other hand, lack the crest and display a more muted palette with metallic bronzy-green upperparts and light grey underparts. Their tail is blackish with outer feathers tipped in whitish grey.

Habitat

The Antillean crested hummingbird thrives in a variety of environments, including subtropical or tropical moist lowland forests, semiarid forests, and areas of heavy degradation such as open vegetation, parks, and plantations. It is most commonly found below 500 meters in elevation.

Distribution

This hummingbird is native to a wide range of islands in the Caribbean, from Anguilla to Grenada, and has been recorded as a vagrant in Florida, USA. It is a sedentary bird, with some individuals dispersing to higher altitudes during certain times of the year.

Behaviour

The Antillean crested hummingbird is known for its territorial nature, often displaying aggression not only towards other hummingbirds but also towards non-competitor species, reptiles, and insects. This behavior can impact local biodiversity and ecosystem services.

Song & Calls

The vocal repertoire of this species includes short "tsip" or "tzip" notes and a longer series of “tslee-tslee-tslee-tslee” calls.

Breeding

Breeding occurs throughout the year, peaking from March to June. The female constructs a cup-shaped nest on thin branches, often shaded by leaves, and lays two white eggs. Incubation lasts 17-19 days, and the female fiercely defends the nest from intruders. Fledging occurs after about 19-21 days, with young remaining with the female for an additional 3-4 weeks.

Diet and Feeding

The Antillean crested hummingbird feeds on both arthropods and nectar. It favors flowering shrubs like Lantana and Euphorbia, as well as vines and large flowering trees such as the capparis tree. It forages from the ground to the canopy but shows a preference for plants in the understory.

Conservation status

The species is currently listed as Least Concern by the IUCN. It is a common resident in its range and has adapted well to human-altered habitats, suggesting that habitat loss is not a significant threat at present.

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Antillean Crested Hummingbirds on Birda

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