Swallow-tailed Hummingbird

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Image:Swallow-tailed hummingbird.JPG

Common Name: Swallow-tailed Hummingbird
Scientific Name: Eupetomena macroura

Size: 6-6.5 inches (15-17 cm); nearly half of this measurement is tail

Habitat: South America; found mainly in east-central South America (the Guianas, Brazil, Paraguay, east Peru and northeast Boliva).

It occurs in virtually any semi-open habitat; even gardens and parks within major cities such as Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo. It avoids the interior of humid forest, but does occur in openings or along the edge; the Swallow-tailed Hummingbird is most common among savanna-like vegetation. It is generally a species of lowlands, but occurs locally up to 1,500 m (4,900 ft). Not a true migrant, some populations move north or south a short distance in the dry winter months.

Status: Vulnerable. Global Population: Unknown amount of mature individuals. The global population size has not been quantified, but this species is described as 'fairly common'

Diet: Flower nectar, also some insects.

Breeding: Its plumage is brilliant iridescent green, with a blue head, upper chest, tail and vent. The tiny white spot behind the eye, common among hummingbirds, is often not visible in this species, but the white ankle tufts, also common among the Trochilinae, are well-developed. The remiges are blackish-brown. It has a slightly decurved medium-long black bill. The sexes are very similar, but females are about one-fourth smaller and slightly duller than males on average. Immature birds appear like females, but their heads are particularly dull and brownish-tinged.

Across its range, it can be found to engage in some behavior related to reproduction almost year-round. In courtship, the male hovers in front of the sitting female, chase her through the air and the two may perform a 'zigzag flight' together; the first activity can be seen throughout the day except in the hottest hours around noon, while courtship chases are most frequent at dusk.

Birds have been seen carrying nesting material between July and September and in December. The nest is a cup-shaped structure lined with soft plant fibers and clad on the outside with lichen and mosses, held together with spider webs. It is placed on a horizontal twig in smallish trees, e.g. Cochlospermum, typically below 3 m (10 ft), but occasionally as high as 15 m (50 ft) above the ground. The clutch consist of two white eggs and like in other hummingbirds, only the female takes care of the eggs and young. The chicks hatch after 15–16 days and fledge after 22-24 days.

Cool Facts: There are 5 subspecies currently recognized, the last one of which was described only in 1988. They vary mainly in the hue of the plumage, with the blue sections ranging from green-tinged blue over ultramarine to deep royal blue, and the green sections ranging from golden bronzy-green over deep bottle-green to blue-tinged green. The nominate subspecies and E. m. simoni occur over a wide range, while the others are more localized endemics:

  • Eupetomena macroura macroura (Gmelin, 1788) – Guianas; Amapá, N and S Pará, Mato Grosso, SW Goiás and Minas Gerais, São Paulo, Santa Catarina and Paraná states in Brazil; Paraguay. Intergrades with E. m. simoni in Goiás and Minas Gerais states. Blue parts ultramarine, green parts deep bottle-green
  • Eupetomena macroura hirundo (Gould, 1875) – E Peru. Blue quite dull, tail less deeply forked.
  • Eupetomena macroura simoni (Hellmayr, 1929) – NE Brazil from S Maranhão, Piauí, Ceará, Pernambuco and Bahia to central Goiás and Minas Gerais. The bluest subspecies; blue parts dark royal blue, green parts blue-tinged.
  • Eupetomena macroura bolivianus (Zimmer, 1950) – NE Bolivia (Beni Department). The greenest subspecies; head more green than blue, green parts pure bright green.
  • Eupetomena macroura cyanoviridis (Grantsau, 1988) – Serra do Mar in S São Paulo state. Another very green subspecies; blue parts green-tinged, green parts golden bronzy green.

Found in Songbird ReMix Hummingbirds of South America

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