BIRD OF THE WEEK: SCIENTIFIC NAME: Anthracothorax dominicus
POPULATION: Unknown; considered common
HABITAT: Subtropical or tropical lowland forests, savannas, and edges in the West Indies
When it comes to birds, “mango” refers to hummingbirds in the genus Anthracothorax. All seven mango species are large as hummingbirds go, with long, slightly downcurved bills and rounded tails.
The Antillean Mango is found only in the West Indies, where it's common on the island of Hispaniola shared by Haiti and the Dominican Republic (DR). Although much remains unknown, it's likely that the bird shares habitat with the Bay-breasted Cuckoo and Hispaniolan Trogon, endemic species that find refuge in the Sierra de Bahoruco reserve in the DR, supported by ABC.
Like other hummingbird species, including the Snowcap, Ruby Topaz, and Mangrove Hummingbird, Antillean Mangos are solitary in all aspects of life other than breeding. While courting, males sing from high perches and display by flying U-shaped patterns in front of prospective mate. Females choose the nest site, build the nest, and raise the chicks.
The nest—a cup-shaped structure woven from soft plant fibers—is lined with animal hair and feather down, then strengthened with spider webs and other sticky material. This webbing gives the nest an elastic quality, which allows it to expand as the chicks grow.
The Antillean Mango feeds on chiefly on nectar, supplemented by insects and other invertebrates. While feeding, these mangos frequently fan out their tails.
Although its population trend has not been quantified, the Antillean Mango is considered widespread and fairly common. Since it can use semi-open and edge habitats, this species may not be as affected by deforestation as many other bird species, at least in the short term.
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Antillean Mango populations in the Virgin Islands and eastern Puerto Rico have declined in recent years and have been eliminated in some places. This change is attributed at least in part to competition with the Green-throated Carib, another hummingbird whose range appears to be expanding in those places.
In addition to the Antillean Mango, Sierra de Bahoruco National Park and the Loma Charco Azul Biological Reserve in western Dominican Republic are home to more than 30 bird species found nowhere else, including Hispaniolan Amazon Parrot, La Selle Thrush, Hispaniolan Crossbill, Least Paraque, and White-fronted Quail Dove.
In his recent book, Steven Johnson coins the term “Hummingbird Effect” to make the point that innovation in one realm can trigger unpredictable and unexpected advancement in others. We not only agree, but have dozens of examples of how great American bird conservation projects make considerable, sometimes unexpected contributions to other important causes including amphibian conservation, human health, food safety, climate change, water conservation, and home energy savings. Support the Hummingbird Effect today.
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