Horned sungem

Horned sungem
Heliactin bilophus
Photo by Arthur Grosset (Arthur Grosset’s Birds)

Common name:
horned sungem (en); chifre-de-ouro (pt); colibri aux huppes d’or (fr); colibrí cornudito (es); goldhauben-schmuckkolibri (de)

Order Apodiformes
Family Trochilidae

This species is found in the southern half of Brazil and marginally across the border into Bolivia, and there is a disjunct population in northern Brazil and Surinam.

These birds are 8-10 cm long and weigh 2-2,5 g.

Horned sungems are found in dry savannas, dry grasslands, open forests, forest edges and rural gardens. They are present from sea level up to an altitude of 1.000 m.

They feed on the nectar of various plants, namely Caesalpinoideae, Vochysiaceae and Asteraceae. They also eat small insects.

These birds nest in a small cup made of soft plant material and cobweb, usually placed in a fork of a small scrub, 1 m above ground. The female lays 2 eggs which she incubates alone for 12-13 days. The chicks fledge 20-23 days after hatching.

IUCN status – LC (Least Concern)
This species has a very large breeding range and is described as uncommon. The species is suspected to be increasing since it readily adapts to man-made habitats such as gardens and cultivated areas. It is believed to be expanding northwards, probably due to deforestation.

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