Buff-tailed Sicklebill

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Image:Buff-tailed sicklebill.JPG

Common Name: Buff-tailed Sicklebill
Scientific Name: Eutoxeres condamini

Size: 5-6 inches (13-15 cm)

Habitat: South America; found in the lower Andes and adjacent west Amazonian lowlands from southern Colombia and northern Ecuador to Peru and Bolivia.

It is restricted to the undergrowth of humid forested and wooded habitats, recorded from 590-10,800 ft. (180-3,300 m) ASL. It will tolerate more habitat disturbance than its congener, regularly occurring in plantations, bamboo stands and open habitat where populations are healthy, though it still prefers natural vegetation.

Status: Least Concern. Global Population: unknown amount of mature individuals. The global population size has not been quantified, but this species is described as 'uncommon'.

Diet: Flower nectar, the peculiar bill is an adaption to the shape of certain flowers, namely of the genera Centropogon and Heliconia. It feeds mainly by trap-lining (the practice of visiting a circuit of specific plants, trees, or other feeding sites, much as trappers check their lines of traps.) In addition to nectar, it will also catch small arthropods by bark gleaning (the practice of hunting /gleaning insects from tree surfaces) in mid-levels of the tree canopy.

Breeding: Its upper parts are iridescent dull greenish, while the under parts are whitish, densely streaked with dusky. The neck-side has a relatively faint blue patch. The tips of the rectrices (tail feathers) are white, and there is a naked stripe on top of the head (but this is usually concealed). The most conspicuous features, however, are those the common name refers to: the bill is strongly decurved, and the outer three rectrices on each side are deep buff, best visible from below.

Immature birds have light-tipped remiges (pinions), hardly any blue on the neck, and lack the naked crown stripe. Hatchlings have black skin and grey down. Females are 20% smaller than males.

The two white eggs are laid in a nest which is attached to the underside of a leaf, a few yards/meters above ground. Only the female incubates; the incubation period is 16–18 days and the young fledge 22–24 days after hatching. They start to breed when they are 1–2 years old.

Cool Facts: There are two subspecies which are not very distinct and almost form a continuous cline, with an extensive intergradation zone in northern Peru:

  • Eutoxeres condamini condamini (Bourcier, 1851) – Northern Buff-tailed Sicklebill from Colombia and Ecuador. Bill longer, lower belly much streaked.
  • Eutoxeres condamini gracilis (Berlepsch & Stolzmann, 1902) – Southern Buff-tailed Sicklebill Central Peru to Bolivia. Bill shorter, lower belly less streaked.

While females remain silent, males will sing daily 6 months out of the year.

Found in Songbird ReMix Hummingbirds of South America

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