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Blue-throated Sapphire

Chlorestes eliciae

The Blue-throated Goldentail, known scientifically as Chlorestes eliciae, is a medium-sized hummingbird with a striking appearance. Males are slightly larger than females and exhibit more vibrant colors. The species is characterized by a straight, bright red bill with a black tip, green upperparts with a coppery or golden sheen on the tail feathers, and a glittering blue-violet to violet throat. The belly is a cream-brown buff, and the sides of the breast and flanks are streaked with green. Females have a more violet-blue throat mixed with gray buff, and a paler belly. Immature birds resemble the adult female but with duller colors, particularly in the female juvenile.

Identification Tips

To identify the Blue-throated Goldentail, look for its straight, coral red bill with a black tip, metallic blue-violet throat, and green upperparts that transition to a metallic golden-green tail. The wings are dusky, and the sides and belly are green. The female is paler overall, with more black on the bill and more grey on the throat. Both sexes have dark brown irises and toes.

Habitat

This hummingbird inhabits subtropical or tropical moist lowland forests and heavily degraded former forests. It can also be found in second-growth forests, plantations, semi-open woodlands, gardens, and gallery forests in drier regions.

Distribution

The Blue-throated Goldentail is found in Belize, Colombia, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, Nicaragua, and Panama. It ranges from southern Mexico to western Panama, with a few occurrences in northern Chocó in Colombia.

Behaviour

The Blue-throated Goldentail is primarily nectarivorous, feeding on flowers of various shrubs and large herbs, as well as on epiphytes and occasionally small arthropods. It is considered a resident species throughout most of its range and is relatively sedentary, though it may display local wandering during flowering seasons.

Song & Calls

The male's song varies greatly between different leks and consists of a phrase of 5-8 notes, starting with a piercing "tseee," followed by a series of single or double notes or short trills. Calls include a high, buzzy "tzip" or "tzet," with an aggressive note being a sharp, liquid, descending twitter. The wings produce a "whirring" or "humming" sound when flapping.

Breeding

Little is known about the breeding biology of the Blue-throated Goldentail, but it is suspected to breed during the dry season. Females build cup-shaped nests with plant material and spider web, usually laying two eggs.

Similar Species

The Blue-throated Goldentail can be confused with the Rufous-tailed Hummingbird, which is larger, has a longer rufous tail, a green throat and breast, and a more curved and paler bill. It also resembles the Blue-headed Sapphire, which has a blue crown and sides of the head, a green throat, and a blue tail.

Diet and Feeding

The diet of the Blue-throated Goldentail includes nectar from flowers such as Stachytarpheta, Hamelia, Heliconia, Renealmia, Thalea, Inga, Psidium, Lobelia, and some epiphytes. It also consumes small arthropods in small proportions.

Conservation Status

The Blue-throated Goldentail is classified as Least Concern by the IUCN, indicating that the species is not currently threatened. Its populations occupy a vast range and appear to be increasing.

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