BIRD OF THE WEEK: 12/25/2015
SCIENTIFIC NAME: Chrysolampis mosquitus
HABITAT: Open savannah, gardens, and cultivated areas
Charmingly, the species' scientific name is derived from khrusolampis (Greek for glow-worm) and mosquito (Spanish for little fly).
Although fairly widespread in lowlands and coastal regions, the Ruby-topaz—like other, more threatened hummingbirds including Esmeraldas Woodstar and Marvelous Spatuletail—could still be seriously impacted by habitat loss.
The Ruby-topaz Hummingbird breeds in tropical areas of northern South America, south to northern Bolivia and central Brazil. The birds remain in parts of their range year-round and migrate in others.
Those hummingbirds that migrate move north to south within Brazil but follow an east-to-west path along the coastal regions of the Guyanas, Venezuela, and Colombia, moving southwards into Colombia. Experts suspect that some Ruby-topaz Hummingbirds migrate within Trinidad and Tobago.
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Like other hummingbirds, including the Mangrove Hummingbird, and Long-tailed Sylph, the Ruby-topaz is solitary and forms no pair bond. The male woos the female by quickly circling her while fanning his chestnut tail and raising his ruby-red crown feathers. After mating, the female builds her nest and raises her young alone.
Ruby-topaz Hummingbirds primarily feed on nectar taken from a variety of flowering trees, shrubs, epiphytes, and cacti. Like other hummingbirds, they also consume small insects and seek out and aggressively defend areas containing flowers with high-energy nectar.
Since the Ruby-topaz Hummingbird accepts man-made habitats and frequents gardens and cultivated areas, its population appear to be stable, although a precise estimate is unknown.
The species can be spotted wintering at ABC-supported reserves in Colombia, maintained by our in-country partner Fundación ProAves. Find out more about El Dorado or El Paujil, or visit Conservation Birding to make travel plans.
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