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Great-billed hermit

Phaetornis malaris

Photo by Maxime Dechelle (GEPOG)

Common name:
great-billed hermit (en); besourão-de-bico-grande (pt); ermite à long bec (fr); ermitaño piquigrande (es); langschnabeleremit (de)

Order Apodiformes
Family Trochilidae

This species occurs in three disjunct populations. One is found in Suriname, French Guyana and marginally into Amapá in northern Brazil. A second one is found from from southern Colombia and Venezuela down to central Bolivia and north-western Brazil. The third population is found along the coast of south-eastern Brazil, from Bahia to Espírito Santo.

These birds are 13-17 cm long and weigh around 6 g.

The great-billed hermit is mostly found in tropical rainforests, but also use swamp forests, moist scrublands and high-altitude scrublands. they are present from sea level up to an altitude of 2.400 m.

They feed mainly on the nectar of various small, brightly coloured and scented flowers, but also take small insects and spiders.

Great-billed hermits are polygynous, with the males forming a lek where they display to attract females, having no futher part in the breeding process after mating. The female builds the nest alone, a cone woven from plant fibres with moss for camouflage. Spider webs are used to suspend it from a branch or the underside of a broad leaf, or less frequently under a bridge or from the rood of a building. The female lays 1-3 white eggs, which she incubates alone for 14-16 days. The chicks are raised by the mother and fledge 21-24 days after hatching. Each female raises a singe brood per season.

IUCN status – LC (Least Concern)
This species has a very large breeding range and is described as fairly common. It is suspected to lose 7,5-8% of suitable habitat within its distribution over the next decade based on a model of Amazonian deforestation, therefore being suspected to suffer a small decline in the near future.

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