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Honduran Emerald

Amazilia luciae

The Honduran emerald, Amazilia luciae, is a small, vibrant hummingbird endemic to Honduras. Measuring between 9 to 10 cm in length, this species exhibits sexual dimorphism. The males are adorned with a dark green crown and upperparts that transition to a bronzy hue towards the lower back and uppertail coverts. Their gorget and upper breast shimmer with a medium blue that can shift to greenish or grayish tones under different lighting. Females, while similar, are generally duller with a smaller and greener gorget and gray-tipped outer tail feathers. Immature birds resemble the female in plumage.

Identification Tips

When identifying the Honduran emerald, look for the medium-length, slightly decurved bill with a black maxilla and a red mandible tipped in black. The males' distinctive medium blue gorget is a key feature, alongside the purplish band near the tip of their tail feathers. Females and juveniles can be identified by their smaller, greener gorget and the gray tips on their outer tail feathers.

Habitat

This species thrives in the tropical dry forests of Honduras, particularly in intermontane valleys. The forests vary in height and density, with some being semi-deciduous. The Honduran emerald is found at elevations between 200 and 500 meters, where it frequents both valley slopes and floors.

Distribution

The Honduran emerald's presence is confirmed in three separate regions of northern Honduras, specifically within the departments of Santa Bárbara, Cortés, Yoro, and Olancho. Its distribution is fragmented, and its movements are not fully understood, with seasonal variations in visibility suggesting possible short-distance migration.

Behaviour

This hummingbird is known to forage for nectar across various levels of the forest, visiting a diverse array of flowering plants. It has been observed to sometimes defend its nectar sources. In addition to nectar, the Honduran emerald also consumes small arthropods.

Song & Calls

The vocal repertoire of the Honduran emerald includes a hard, slightly metallic ticking call, often steadily repeated, and a hard, slightly buzzy chattering given in flight. Other sounds include a dry, quiet gruff warbling, a hard buzzy chatter, and a high sharp note given in pursuit.

Breeding

Breeding behaviors are not well-documented, but one observed nest was constructed from seed fluff and dried leaves, bound with spiderweb and adorned with lichen on the exterior, placed 2.3 meters up in a tree.

Predator response

The Honduran emerald actively responds to the calls of potential predators, such as the ferruginous pygmy owl, by joining in mobbing behavior.

Conservation status

The IUCN has classified the Honduran emerald as Vulnerable. Its population, estimated at 10,000 to 20,000 mature individuals, is believed to be in decline due to habitat loss from agricultural expansion and human settlement. Conservation efforts include the establishment of protected areas to safeguard its remaining habitat.

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