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Humboldt's Sapphire

Chrysuronia humboldtii

The Humboldt's sapphire, a species of hummingbird, is a diminutive and iridescent jewel of the avian world. Males are distinguished by their straightish coral red bill with a black tip, while females sport a black maxilla with red at its base and a pinkish mandible. The male's plumage is a tapestry of deep blue on the forehead and throat, with a crown of dull dark blue-green and metallic green to bronze-green upperparts. Their tails are a dark metallic green to blue, and their underparts are a mix of blue-green and white. Females, on the other hand, display a blue crown with similar upperparts to the males, but their underparts are predominantly white with bright green flecks.

Identification Tips

To identify Humboldt's sapphire, look for the male's distinctive bill and deep blue throat, or the female's white underparts with green flecks. Juvenile males will have more white below and a bronze-flecked breast, with a duller crown and face.

Habitat

This species thrives in mangroves and adjacent wet secondary forests, typically below 50 meters in elevation. They are most commonly found in Pacific mangrove stands.

Distribution

Humboldt's sapphire graces the narrow Pacific coastal regions from southeastern Panama, through western Colombia, and into northwestern Ecuador's Esmeraldas Province.

Behaviour

Little is known about the movements of Humboldt's sapphire, as they have not been well documented. They are known to feed on nectar from the flowers of tea mangrove and insects, which they catch in flight or glean from vegetation.

Song & Calls

The vocalizations of Humboldt's sapphire are a symphony of high-pitched phrases, comprising hissing notes and trills, as well as a descending squeaky twittering call.

Breeding

Breeding condition Humboldt's sapphires have been observed from January to May. Males perform at leks to attract females. However, much of their breeding behavior, including the description of their nests, remains a mystery.

Diet and Feeding

Humboldt's sapphire has a penchant for the nectar of tea mangrove flowers but is also seen feeding on insects, which they either hawk from a perch or glean from surrounding vegetation.

Conservation status

The IUCN has classified Humboldt's sapphire as Least Concern, with an estimated population of 20,000 to 50,000 mature individuals. Despite the slow conversion of their mangrove habitat to shrimp farming, the species' use of secondary forest has prevented a more rapid decline in numbers. They are considered uncommon in Panama, very local in Colombia, and very rare in Ecuador.

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Humboldt's Sapphires on Birda

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