Bearded Helmetcrest

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Common Name: Bearded Helmetcrest
Scientific Name: Oxypogon guerinii

Size: 4.5 inches (11.4 cm)

Habitat: South America; Colombia and Venezuela (found in the Andes, ranging from altitudes of 3600 to 4500 m (12000-15000 ft.) in Venezuela, and 3200 to 5200 m (10500 to 17000 ft.) in Colombia. Its natural habitat is subtropical or tropical high-altitude grassland, known as páramo.

Status: Least Concern. Global Population: Unknown amount of mature individuals.

Diet: Flower nectar (specifically Espeletia, Echeveria, Siphocampylus, Castilleja and Draba), small insects, and tree sap. It often perches on boulders and flits between low-flowering shrubs.

Breeding: The adult male has a distinctive pointed black crest and a shaggy white beard. The face and cheeks are blackish, rendering a triangular shape with the white fronted crest and white beard. The underparts are a dull green-grey. The female lacks the beard and crest.

The species breeds during the rainy season, and nests in the daisy (Espeletia) or builds a nest made of material from the daisy in a cliff or bank.

Cool Facts: First described by French ornithologist Auguste Boissonneau in 1840, it is the only member of the genus Oxypogon. However, a study of mitochondrial DNA of hummingbirds shows it to be most closely related to the Bearded Mountaineer (Oreonympha nobilis) and the Rufous-capped Thornbill (Chalcostigma ruficeps). Which suggests the genus may be reclassified in the future.

The helmetcrest is usually seen alone at low flowering bushes or herbs. It often perches on large boulders, and sometimes walks on the ground where it makes bounding leaps between ground level flowers. They regularly cling to flowers when feeding and jump (like a little goat-hence the Spanish name) from one clump of flowers to another.

Found in Songbird ReMix Hummingbirds of South America

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