Purple-throated Mountaingem

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Image:Purple-throated Mountaingem.JPG

Common Name: Purple-throated Mountaingem
Scientific Name: Lampornis calolaemus

Size: 4 inches (10.5 cm)

Habitat: Central America; breeds in the mountains of southern Nicaragua, northern Costa Rica and western Panama.

Found in forested areas in hilly terrain at altitudes from 800 m to 2500 m.

Status: Least Concern. Global Population: Unknown amount of mature individuals. The Purple-throated Mountain-gem is not threatened but is thought to be declining due to continuing deforestation (Schuchmann 1999). Small-scale disturbances in the highlands of Costa Rica and Panama due to human development have altered the habitat of this species, although vast expanses of cloud forests within their range remain beyond human influence (Feinsinger et al. 1987). Studies in the Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve of Costa Rica revealed that the Purple-throated Mountain-gem is very successful in areas with patchy deforestation, including large clearings due to human influence and treefalls inflicted by natural mudslides (Feinsinger et al. 1987, Feinsinger et al. 1988). Although these disturbances introduce increased competition from other hummingbird species, these studies attest to the strong resiliency of Purple-throated Mountain-gem populations in the face of habitat alteration.

Diet: Flower nectar from Psychotria elata and Palicourea lasiorrachis; also small insects. There is some degree of niche differentiation between the sexes. Though both prefer flowers with a corolla 14-21 mm long by 3.5-8 mm wide, females far more often than males utilize plants with longer and thinner corollas.

Breeding: The male weighs 6.0 g and the female 4.8 g. The shortish black bill is slightly curved. The adult male has bronze-green upperparts and underparts except for a brilliant green crown, purple throat and dark grey tail. The female lacks the bright crown and throat, and has rich cinnamon underparts. Females have slightly longer bills than males. Young birds resemble the female but have buff fringes to the upperparts plumage.

This species breeds primarily during the rainy season, from October to April, and nests in the understory. The female Purple-throated Mountaingem is entirely responsible for nest building and incubation. She lays two white eggs in a deep plant-fibre cup nest 0.7-3.5 m high in a scrub, small tree or vine. Incubation takes 15-19 days, and fledging another 20-26.

Cool Facts: It is believed that Mountaingems evolved some 3.5 million years ago and has diversified since. Males make their presence known with repeated short bursts of insect-like trills; a sharp buzzy ‘zeet’.

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