Marvelous Spatuletail

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Image:Marvelous spateltail.JPG

Common Name: Marvelous Spatuletail
Scientific Name: Loddigesia mirabilis

Size: 5.9 inches (15 cm)

Habitat: South America; Peru. This species is uncommon and restricted to the eastern slopes of the río Utcubamba valley (an affluent on the right bank of the río Marañón) in the Cordillera del Colán, Amazonas, and one locality further east in San Martín, north Peru.

It occurs in forest edge, second growth, montane scrub and, in particular, thorny, impenetrable Rubus thickets admixed with Alnus trees, at 2,100-2,900 m (occasionally 1,700-3,700 m).

Status: Endangered. Global Population: 490-980 mature individuals with a declining trend. Deforestation is widespread on the mountain slopes of the Cordillera del Colán, with much habitat cleared since 1978, and remaining forest under threat of conversion to cash-crops such as marijuana and coffee. However, the species's apparent preference for forest edge and isolated woodlots on steep slopes may reduce its vulnerability to habitat alteration. Interviews with local inhabitants and enquiries in a nearby market town have revealed that dried hearts of the males of this species are believed to have aphrodisiac properties. Hunting with slingshots for this reason may even explain the skewed sexual ratio

Diet: Flower nectar; its preferred food-plant is the red-flowered lily Alstroemeria (Bomarea) formosissima, but it has been observed feeding on at least five species of flowering plant.

Breeding: The breeding season is thought to run from late October to early May. Adult males (which are greatly outnumbered by females and immature males) gather at leks where they display to attract females.

Cool Facts: It was first reported in 1835 by the bird collector Andrew Matthews for George Loddiges. The Marvellous Spatuletail is unique among birds, for it has just four feathers in its tail. Its most remarkable feature is the male's two long racquet-shaped outer tail feathers that cross each other and end in large violet-blue discs or "spatules". He can move them independently.

A protected area was set up under a conservation easement in 2006. Several organizations are currently working in partnership to conduct an education program, survey additional sites and raise funds for land acquisition in the La Florida region. American Bird Conservancy and its Peruvian partner group ECOAN created a community nature reserve, planting thousands of native hummingbird flowers, and developing a sustainable eco-tourism program. Over 30,000 saplings of native trees and bushes have since been planted there.

This conservation easement is the first of its kind in Peru.

Found in Songbird ReMix Hummingbirds of South America

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