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A photo of a Coppery-headed Emerald (Microchera cupreiceps), male
Coppery-headed Emerald, Male

Coppery-headed Emerald

Microchera cupreiceps

The Coppery-headed Emerald, a diminutive hummingbird endemic to the verdant highlands of Costa Rica, is a jewel of the avian world. Measuring a mere 7.5 cm in length and weighing between 3.0 to 3.3 grams, this species is a marvel of evolution, perfectly adapted to its environment.

Identification Tips

To identify the Coppery-headed Emerald, look for the male's distinctive dull coppery bronze crown and bright coppery bronze uppertail coverts. The female, while sporting metallic green upperparts, also has bright somewhat coppery bronze uppertail coverts. Both sexes possess a moderately decurved bill with a pinkish base, aiding in their nectar foraging endeavors.

Habitat

This species thrives on the edges and within the moist to humid montane forests of Costa Rica. Males are often observed in the forest canopy, while females prefer the understory, though both can be found at various levels at forest edges and semi-open areas.

Distribution

The Coppery-headed Emerald graces the highlands of northern and central Costa Rica, predominantly on the Caribbean slope, but also on the Pacific slope in the far north.

Behaviour

Post-breeding, these birds tend to descend to the lower elevations within their range. They are agile flyers, adept at navigating the dense foliage of their habitat.

Song & Calls

The song of the Coppery-headed Emerald is a high, thin twittering and warbling, while its call is a high, thin, liquid "quip" or "quit," or a rapid high sputtering during chases.

Breeding

Breeding season for this species spans from October to March, with variations from year to year. Males display at leks, singing and chasing rivals, while females meticulously construct their nests in the understory or along forest edges.

Diet and Feeding

The diet consists of nectar from a variety of plants, shrubs, and trees, as well as small arthropods gleaned from foliage or caught in flight.

Conservation status

The IUCN has classified the Coppery-headed Emerald as Least Concern, with a stable population estimated to be at least 20,000 mature individuals. It is a fairly common sight within many protected areas of its native Costa Rica.

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