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A photo of a Sapphire-throated Hummingbird (Chrysuronia coeruleogularis), female
Sapphire-throated Hummingbird, Female

Sapphire-throated Hummingbird

Chrysuronia coeruleogularis

The sapphire-throated hummingbird, Chrysuronia coeruleogularis, is a diminutive avian jewel, resplendent in metallic-green plumage. The male of the species is particularly striking with a violet-blue throat, while the female is distinguished by white underparts and green speckles along the breast. This species is characterized by a distinctively forked tail, aiding in its identification among other hummingbirds of similar size and hue.

Identification Tips

To identify the sapphire-throated hummingbird, look for the following features: a shiny metallic-green body, a violet-blue throat in males, white underparts with green spots in females, and a deeply forked tail with black tips. The bird measures approximately 9 cm (3.5 in) in length, with a straight, short bill—black on the maxilla and pinkish with a black tip on the mandible.

Habitat

The sapphire-throated hummingbird is found in a variety of coastal habitats, including mangroves, scrubs, and light forests. It shows a preference for forest edges and secondary forests over dense woodlands and can adapt to modified habitats when necessary.

Distribution

This species has a broad range across Panama, Colombia, and has recently been observed in Costa Rica. It is divided into three subspecies, each with a slightly different geographical distribution and throat coloration.

Behaviour

The sapphire-throated hummingbird leads a solitary existence, not migrating in flocks. It has a high metabolism, necessitating frequent feeding on nectar to sustain its energetic flight. Unlike most birds, it flaps its wings in an upward motion, similar to insects.

Song & Calls

While not known for a melodious song, the sapphire-throated hummingbird can be recognized by a high-pitched rattle call, reminiscent of "wi-didididididididididi," and the buzzing sound produced by its rapidly flapping wings.

Breeding

Courtship

Males perform a U-shaped flight pattern to attract females during courtship. After mating, the male departs, leaving the female to nest and raise the young alone.

Nesting and Incubation

Females construct cup-shaped nests on thin branches, camouflaged with moss and secured with spider webs. The nests are small, deep, and lined with soft materials for elasticity and strength.

Eggs

The sapphire-throated hummingbird typically lays two eggs, which hatch after 15 to 16 days. The fledglings are born blind and flightless, with a fledging period of 19 to 22 days.

Diet and Feeding

The diet consists primarily of nectar and insects. The hummingbird feeds on the nectar of brightly colored, tubular flowers, preferring those with high sugar content. It also consumes arthropods for protein, particularly during breeding and fledging periods.

Conservation Status

The sapphire-throated hummingbird is classified as Least Concern by the IUCN Red List. Despite habitat destruction, it has shown adaptability and resilience, with no significant harm to its population as it expands its range northward.

Similar Species

The sapphire-throated hummingbird can be confused with the sapphire-bellied hummingbird and the shining-green hummingbird. However, the sapphire-bellied hummingbird has a darker blue throat extending to the vent, and the shining-green hummingbird lacks the blue plumage seen in the other two species.

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